Garlic, at 27, adds touch of seasoning at Goucher Gophers guard a leader and scorer

December 11, 1992|By Dave Glassman | Dave Glassman,Contributing Writer

There are late bloomers in college basketball who struggle fo three years, then -- when they're 21- or 22-year-old seniors -- surprise with their contributions. Then there is Gerard Garlic.

Garlic is not your garden-variety late bloomer. He's 27, living in a dormitory, and, for just the second season since he was graduated from Catonsville High School in 1983, he is playing organized basketball. And he's playing it very well, as a starting guard for Goucher College.

He is averaging 17.8 points for the Gophers and -- despite his 5-foot-11, 165-pound frame -- 5.0 rebounds. Both are second on the team to his friend and roommate, sophomore David Clark (19.5, 7.1), a 1991 All-Metro guard at Catonsville. Garlic also leads the team with 18 steals, and he's second in assists with 18.

Goucher (3-3) plays Washington (2-4) tonight (8) in the first round the Wild Goose Classic in Chestertown. In the first game, it's Kean vs. Dominican at 6 p.m. The consolation game will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow, followed by the championship at 3 p.m.

Garlic's history of late starts goes back to high school, where he played only two years of basketball. As a junior at Catonsville, "I was eighth man on a seven-man team," he said. As a senior, he was a defensive specialist on a Comets team that reached the state 3A championship game.

After Garlic's graduation, his father, an Air Force recruiter in Catonsville, was transferred to New Jersey. Garlic went with the family. Then followed a series of jobs that included loading trucks, supervising cashiers in a department store and seasonal work as a tax preparer.

He sometimes took courses at Burlington County College in New Jersey and spent a semester at Temple University in 1986, but left for financial reasons. In 1988, Burlington started a basketball program, so Garlic enrolled full time and played organized ball for the first time since high school.

In the summer of 1989 he came to live with his grandmother in West Baltimore and began playing and coaching in recreation and summer leagues. He helped John Grap coach in a CYO league and the Project Survival pro-am league. Then, in 1990, he re-established contact with Clark, whom he had met in 1986, on a 19-under AAU team he helped coach. The two became close friends.

Garlic made a promise to Clark. "I told him I was going to go to the same school he was," he said.

When Grap began coaching the girls basketball team at Beth Tfiloh, Garlic went along, and there he met boys head coach Gordon Kaplan, now assistant coach at Goucher.

Last year, Clark was a freshman at Goucher and Garlic began attending the Gophers' games. Kaplan, who had seen Garlic play in Project Survival games, planted the seed. "Gordon asked me if I was interested in coming to Goucher," Garlic said.

Goucher head coach Len Trevino had heard from Clark and Kaplan about Garlic's basketball talent, but he was more anxious about him making the academic transition than the athletic one.

"I brought him in and asked him if he wanted to come back to school," Trevino said. "You're not going to succeed with a non-traditional recruit if he doesn't want to be a student. He was already thinking about returning to school. He'd started running into stumbling blocks in his work life. He acknowledged he hadn't been under a coach or in a structured setting for a while."

But it all came together, and Garlic enrolled as a second-semester sophomore with three years of athletic eligibility.

He's in the process of adjusting from run-and-gun, rec-center ball to Goucher's three-guard, motion offense. But that's not what has most impressed his coach. "I was concerned about his grades because he'd been out of school a while," Trevino said. "He's doing very, very well."

On the court, Trevino is no less pleased by the man he had never seen play before the Nov. 1 practice. "He's extremely athletic," Trevino said. "The hardest part is blending his talents in. . . . At this level, not many match up to his athleticism. He jumps very well and is extremely quick. He has great vision. That's where the assists are coming in. When the kids get to know him a little better his assist numbers are going to come up. That's one of the things I was amazed at."

The coaching experience Garlic brings to the floor helps him in practice and sometimes hinders him in competition. "He understands the step-by-step process of teaching," said Trevino. understands where the steps are going to go. . . . [But] he has a tendency to over-analyze things, to step back from the game."

And Garlic knows his background can help his teammates. "I can understand what coach sees and wants better," he said. "I guess I'm sort of the mediator right now. They can probably relate to me easier and I can relay it to the coach."

So, does he miss coaching? "I do. I miss my girls at Beth Tfiloh. That was probably the purest as far as teaching, because it was a new program, and getting to show someone something new and help them develop."

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