Center Kerwin may get start tonight Slumping Smith would become reserve

January 13, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. B — CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- In recent days, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams has flip-flopped his starting forwards and guards to shake the Terrapins out of their funk.

Now, with his team's losing streak at five going into tonight's game against North Carolina, Williams is contemplating his first change in a lineup that had been together for Maryland's first 13 games.

Chris Kerwin, a 6-foot-10 junior who transferred from Old Dominion, might start at center against the Tar Heels, with junior Evers Burns moving to power forward and senior Garfield Smith going to the bench.

"We'll see," said Williams. "That's a possibility."

The move would give the Terrapins more height, but Williams is hoping that Kerwin can give Maryland more defense and rebounding. Smith had done that earlier in the season, but recently has struggled in all areas.

"Carolina does have great size," Williams said after practice yesterday at the Smith Center. "We obviously need to get some size in there."

As much as the move would be made to help bolster Smith's confidence, it also is a reward for Kerwin's recent play. After barely playing earlier in the season, Kerwin has given Maryland quality minutes in its first three ACC games.

Meanwhile, Smith is going through a disastrous shooting stretch. The 6-foot-6 senior went through a similar period last season, was benched briefly and came back to become one of the most consistent Terps down the stretch. He has missed 30 of his past 39 shots, including an 0-for-3 performance Saturday.

"I remember [last season]," said Williams. "Every player is going to have their peaks and valleys. Garfield's going through that now. We've got to get him out of it."

Kerwin said yesterday that he hadn't been told whether he would start against the Tar Heels. But after playing well against both Georgia Tech's Matt Geiger and Duke's Christian Laettner, the prospect seemed strong that he would line up tonight against North Carolina's Eric Montross.

"Whatever he tells me, I'll do," said Kerwin.

NOTES: Reserve G Cougar Downing, who sat out Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, didn't practice yesterday. . . . After tonight, Maryland is off until it plays Florida State on Saturday at home.

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