Clark, Goucher succeed on basketball frontier

March 02, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

With a pioneering spirit, David Clark, an All-Metro choice from Catonsville, joined the first class of Goucher College basketball recruits in 1991.

"Basically, I saw it as helping to set the foundation for a new basketball program," Clark said. "It was an opportunity to get a solid education, but it was also a challenge to start from scratch and to try to anticipate what was down the road."

Now, four years later, Clark, a chemistry major, is both an All-Capital Athletic League choice and an Academic All-America. The 6-foot-3 senior guard will also achieve his boyhood ambition of playing in an NCAA tournament, with the Gophers (18-9) playing defending champion Lebanon Valley (22-5) today in the opening round of the Northeast Division III regionals in Annville, Pa.

"Playing here four years is everything I expected and more," said Clark, who holds the school records for points (1,783) and assists (409) while starting all 103 games in his college career. He is averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists this year.

Clark was the first Baltimore-area player signed by coach Leonard Trevino, who had to make do with walk-ons in his and Goucher's first year of men's basketball, 1990.

"Baltimore was a real tough sell for us as far as recruiting," said Trevino, who had worked previously as an assistant at the University of South Dakota. "Kids in this area only knew of Goucher as an all-girls school. But I saw Clark play in a high school game, liked his athleticism, and worked hard to get him.

"It's because of David I've been able to get a couple of other Baltimore players [senior guard Gerald Garlic, a junior college transfer and former Catonsville teammate of Clark, and xTC sophomore guard Robby Friend of Poly]. He helped open a lot of doors for me."

But Clark, who had led Catonsville to a 25-1 record and the state finals as a senior in high school, was anything but a polished player his first year at Goucher.

"David was like a lot of freshmen," said Trevino. "He had a lot of natural ability, but a lot of the moves that work for you in high school won't work in college. . . . He had a lot of flash, but he had to tone down his game."

Recalling his freshman year, Clark said, "It was tough at first because we had no upperclassmen to look to for guidance. We were all starting from scratch, sort of learning on the job."

Clark firmly established himself as the team leader near the end of his freshman year in an improbable 111-109 victory over Mary Washington. He forced overtime by hitting a 45-foot buzzer-beater. He finished with 38 points, a single-game record that still stands.

But Clark had to endure two losing seasons before gaining his first taste of success last year when the Gophers finished 17-9 and won the Capital Athletic Conference title.

"It was just a matter of us maturing together over three years," said Clark. "But we were also adding depth each season. We got a strong inside player in [6-7 sophomore] Predrag Durkovic, and now we have a real solid nucleus."

For Trevino, the Gophers came of age in 1993 when they upset Johns Hopkins, 87-73, their first victory in three games against their non-conference rivals.

"That was a milestone for us," he said. "That made our kids believe in themselves. It made our program, and the student body really started to get behind us."

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