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Ursinus point guard connection leads Bernie Rogers to Lycoming

12/21/2020, 9:45am EST
By Kevin Callahan

Point guard Bernie Rogers handles the basketball

Haverford School senior Bernie Rogers (above, in 2019) committed to Lycoming College, continuing his tradition of playing for former Ursinus point guards. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Kevin Callahan (@CP_Kcallahan)

Bernie Rogers is the son of an Ursinus College point guard. He also plays at The Haverford School for a former star point guard for the Bears.

Extending the connection, the heady and hard working senior point guard committed to play at Lycoming College for another former Ursinus star point guard.

“After I went up there to visit, I kind of got this feeling. It just felt like home and it felt right,” Rogers said about Mike McGarvey, the Lycoming head coach. “He made it clear he thought I could fit in perfectly and, from a culture standpoint, I was able to watch them play and all the guys seem to get along and they enjoyed playing with each other.

“Coach McGarvey really saw me being in the program and encouraged me to go there.”

It seems natural for him to play for McGarvey since Rogers’ father, Bernie Rogers, also was a standout point guard at Ursinus.

“My dad told me about him. It just made it even better because, growing up, I’d hear stories about him playing and Coach McGarvey did the same,” the younger Rogers said about his dad, who is the head coach at The Haverford School.

McGarvey flourished at Ursinus from 2002 to 2006. A decade earlier, the elder Rogers paced the Bears in scoring and assists for four straight seasons, scoring over 1,000 points. He was the team MVP in 1994 and 1995, while a two time All-Conference selection at the Collegeville, Pa., school.

“You know, with the pandemic, it has been really hard. You hope all kids find a right spot for themselves, and I took him to some different Division IIIs over the summer,’’ the elder Rogers said. “It’s hard to tell with pandemic. There [aren’t] a lot of people on campus. You just don’t get the feel.

“So, I just kept telling him all along that sometimes it just has a way of working itself out. Mike called late in the fall and said his senior point guard isn’t taking an extra year and they are looking for a point guard and he said, ‘I’ve seen Bernie play a lot and would love for you guys to come up.’

“And I just think going up to visit and watching the team work out, it just kind of clicked and he just felt comfortable.”

McGarvey, who played at Penn Charter, had his No. 11 jersey retired at Ursinus after a record-setting playing career when he was a consensus two-time All-American and two-time Centennial Conference Player of the Year. He started every game of his career and finished fourth on the Bears' all-time scoring list with 1,460 points and ranked 14th in the Division III record book with 754 career assists. 

Leading Ursinus to three conference championships, McGarvey was inducted into both the Ursinus College Hall of Fame (2016) and the Sam Cozen Philadelphia Area Small College Hall of Fame (2015).

But, the younger Rogers didn’t just choose to play for McGarvey because of his accomplishments at Ursinus or the cool connection with his father. He chose Lycoming because the program is on the rise. However, McGarvey does stay connected with his former college teammates, which does enforce the family culture he is building.

Last February, McGarvey had 15 of his former Ursinus teammates watch Lycoming beat Arcadia University 68-64 to capture the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

McGarvey won the MAC crown in just his second season as head coach, after being an assistant at Colgate University for seven seasons under Matt Langel.

The younger Rogers sees himself as the same type of point guard as his father, and, therefore, McGarvey.

“I like to think so,” he said, “I think we both are very unselfish. We’d rather see our team win any day than worry about points or anything. We both lived for hustle plays. I enjoy going out to make my teammates better than any self awards.”

Another symbiotic similarity is both Rogers are from Northeast Philly, as is McGarvey.

“I just think there was a connection where it just feels like he could see himself being [at Lycoming] the next four years,” the elder Rogers said.

“And with that and seeing the team practice, Mike is doing a great job. They got some talent and they have a chance to be good for the four years he is going to be there. I think being a small point guard, it’s kind of with Mike’s career, not only as a player, but as a coach, he has that small point guard mentality. So I think my son also related to that.”

The elder Rogers, a first team All-Catholic selection at Archbishop Ryan in 1992, coached his alma mater for 15 seasons before leaving for The Haverford School five years ago. He coached his brother Andrew, who was recruited to play at University of Maine, while at Ryan, so he has endured the recruiting challenge on a personal level.

“It’s a little different when it is your own son,” he said. “I’ve seen the hard work he put in. [I’m] glad he gets [a] chance to play at the next level.

“I think having played Division III and coached Division III and my son having followed my camps the past 20 years, I think he is a kid who gets how good Division III is,” Rogers’ father added. “Some kids, it takes a while to realize that and I think he understands that going in, how competitive it is and how blessed you are to have a spot on a team the next four years.”

Head coach Bernie Rogers watches the game while squatting on the sideline

Haverford School head coach Bernie Rogers (above, in 2019) was a star point guard for Ursinus in the 1990s, scoring over 1,000 points. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Last February, just two weeks before McGarvey led Lycoming to the MAC title, Haverford posted a 45-43 victory over Camden Catholic to earn the elder Rogers his 300th career win over 20 seasons (15 at Archbishop Ryan, five at The Haverford School).

In 2019, he reached a milestone when The Haverford School went 28-0, becoming the first Inter-Ac League team to post a perfect season since 1939, when Friends Central was 21-0.

Perfect records and championships, though, are an afterthought now, as Rogers is just hoping his son has a chance to play this season.

“He has hung in there. Luckily, we have a gym in the neighborhood he can get into, so that has been a little bit of an outlet,” he said. “For him and a couple of other seniors, you only get one senior year and they are excited.”

And Haverford will be worth watching, too, with Rogers and junior guard Jameel Brown, who recently committed to Purdue.

“He is [a] special player and he also is one of best teammates I ever had,” the younger Rogers said. “He is one of those guys who makes everyone else look better.”

The talented 6-foot-4 shooting guard chose the Boilermakers over Penn, Temple, Xavier and Marquette. 

“Anytime I come down, I’m looking to get him shots and every time he makes one, it makes us all look better,” the younger Rogers said. “He can shoot it from anywhere.”

Understandably, Rogers wants to pass the ball to Brown again soon.

“I’m kind of getting sick of just practic[ing] on [my] own in [an] empty gym,” the younger Rogers said. “You miss everything, Friday night games and play[ing] in front of people, and I worked my whole life to play for Dad.”

He will also play for his grandfather Bernie Rogers, who passed away in September at age 73. He was a longtime successful coach for the Somerton Youth Organization in Northeast Philly.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate he won’t see me play,” the younger Rogers said. “But, just to have his own name makes me feel like everything I do is for him and I’m just trying to continue his legacy.”

Just like he will be doing by playing for another former Ursinus point guard great.

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