NORTH ADAMS -- Basketball has, by nature, become a tall person's game.
From Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and LeBron James, those of average height need not apply.
That's what makes it so interesting watching MCLA men's basketball players Ruben DelRosario and John Jones. Not only do they not tower over the average college student, but they might be among the smallest players at their position in the nation.
In the MCLA program, point guard DelRosario is listed at 5 feet, 5 inches but is emphatic that he's 5-6. Jones is the Trailblazers' power forward; his program listing is 6-0, and he admits to that.
"In the game of basketball, everybody feels like they want to be a little taller," said DelRosario, a junior from Springfield, who was always the smallest guy on the court.
Ramon Viches is the MCLA center and at 6-foot-5, is one of the taller Trailblazers. He said that while the two players have different functions on the court, they are not that dissimilar and both play much bigger than they are.
"Their competitive spirit allows them to do so," said Viches. "John will literally go out there and give his left leg for the team. Ruben is the same way. They're so passionate about the game. Their heart allows how big they play, not their height or their stature."
For the record, Jones and DelRosario are two of the top three scorers on the 3-11 Trailblazers. Jones leads MCLA with a 17.6 scoring average. DelRosario is third on the Trailblazers with a 11.9 scoring average. He has 40 assists to lead MCLA. Eight different times, the guard has scored in double figures.
"When I grew up, I had two older brothers and they were obviously bigger than me and a lot stronger than me," said DelRosario. "Every time I went out there, I played against bigger guys all the time. I always had to bring my game to show that just because I was small, it doesn't mean I can't play just as good as them."
Jones, who has dunked in games, was never the bigger kid when he was young and he said he thought he could be a point guard. But his youth league coaches had him playing either the 3 or the 4, the small or power forward positions.
"I was pretty much a smaller guy, trapping on the court and trying to hustle all the other dudes because they were much bigger than me," said the Boston native. "That's where I get my competitive [nature] from."
MCLA basketball coach Jamie Morrison has had bigger players at their positions, but that takes nothing away from the talent and the work both Jones and DelRosario have shown.
"With John, it's effort and he's super-athletic," Morrison said. "It's not just effort. He's talented.
"As a pure basketball player, you've really seen him come into his own."
DelRosario has a similar motor to Jones, according to the Trailblazers' head coach.
"I trust him with the basketball. He makes good decisions," said Morrison. "He's a really talented offensive player."
Jones had 11 rebounds against Dickinson (Pa.), 16 against St. Joseph's (Vt.), 18 against Castleton State and 13 on Tuesday night against Fitchburg State. He had seven in the loss to Williams, going up against a team that averaged 6-6 across the front line.
"I use my quickness to snatch [rebounds] over the big guys before they can get their hands on it," said Jones.
DelRosario, a graduate of Springfield Central, said he enjoys watching the smaller guards in the NBA and has a particular affinity for UMass' 5-8 sparkplug Chaz Williams. And DelRosario said he wishes he could do what Williams can do.
"Sometimes, I wish I could dunk," the MCLA guard said with a smile. "Sometimes, when I see an open lane, my adrenaline could give me that extra two feet."
To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman