- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

Maryland coach Gary Williams suspended forward Travis Garrison for tonight’s game against Wake Forest at Comcast Center after the senior turned himself into police Friday on assault and sex offense charges.

Garrison, who was released on his own recognizance Friday, was charged with second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense in connection with an Oct.27 incident at the Cornerstone Grill and Loft in College Park. Both charges are misdemeanors.

“It’s frustrating, especially when seniors are involved because they should know better,” Williams said. “At the same time, they’re my players and I’m doing everything I can to help Travis in this situation.”

Williams said he informed his team, as well as some athletic department officials, of Garrison’s one-game suspension Friday. However, the coach was rankled by a report later in the day on Comcast SportsNet that Garrison would sit out against Wake Forest.

“[That] was supposed to be kept confidential because … if I could know today that a Wake Forest starter wasn’t starting, that would be an advantage to my preparation to get ready for the game,” Williams said. “I’m very disappointed that someone within the close family of Maryland basketball leaked that to Comcast. That part I don’t understand, because that hurts our basketball team in that situation.”

It’s the second time in six months a Maryland player was arrested. Senior guard Chris McCray was charged with three misdemeanors in connection with a fight outside a College Park bar in August. The charges were later dropped.

Williams said his players aren’t permitted in bars because of McCray’s incident.

“Travis was suspended because he was where he shouldn’t have been,” Williams said.

In any case, the 23rd-ranked Terrapins (11-4, 1-2 ACC) will be without one of their interior mainstays against the Demon Deacons (11-4, 0-2). Garrison started nine of the last 10 games for the Terps, and is averaging 9.7 points and 6.5 rebounds. He has missed one game in his career, Maryland’s home meeting with Duke during his freshman year.

Williams declined to reveal how Garrison’s absence would affect Maryland’s lineup, though Wake Forest center Eric Williams could provide even more problems inside than usual against a weakened frontcourt. The senior is averaging 16.3 points and 8.6 rebounds, and is coming off a 22-point, 20-rebound outing in Wednesday’s loss at Clemson.

The timing of the suspension is especially poor for a team coming off consecutive road losses to Miami and Duke.

“We just have to go out and play our game whether it’s with Travis or without because this is a big game for us,” junior point guard D.J. Strawberry said.

Wednesday’s 76-52 loss at Duke was particularly sobering since it exposed many of Maryland’s weaknesses. The Terps struggled to run their offense, committing 29 turnovers while shooting 30.2 percent, and were pushed into a faster game than they would have liked.

Maryland also surrendered the first seven points, its second straight flat start. That was a concern in the opening weeks of the season, although it seemed the Terps had overcome the problem until the past week.

“We have to look at ourselves — each person individually look at themselves — and see if they’re giving everything to the team,” Strawberry said. “I even have to look at myself and see what I’m doing wrong because we just haven’t been up for these games and been ready somehow. We just have to be ready [tonight].”

In Wake Forest, the Terps face another team that has struggled recently. The Demon Deacons fell out of the national rankings this week for the first time since December 2002. Yet even against an opponent in need of a victory, Gary Williams expects Maryland to turn in a better performance tonight.

“We’re competitors,” Williams said. “This has been a tough week. Good teams rise when times get tough.”

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