Karcher gives `home' crowd a show

30 Baltimore relatives see him ignite winning 7-0 run

Maryland notebook

February 14, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA -- Seeing 30 of his East Baltimore relatives behind the Temple bench, Owls forward Mark Karcher denied any emotional incentives. Yet his play spoke otherwise.

After Maryland closed to 55-54 with 5: 55 remaining, Karcher started a game-breaking 7-0 run with two 18-foot jumpers as well as making three steals in that three-minute stretch. Pumping his fist after each basket, the former St. Frances star and one-time Maryland recruit finished with 18 points in his first game against his hometown team.

"I didn't want to come out and make the game personal," Karcher said. "I just wanted to come out and get a win for the team, not for me. This was a big test for us as a team.

"I wanted this win as bad as anything, but I had to play within the system. This is a game I've always wanted to play."

The 6-foot-5 junior, who leads Temple with a 15.6 scoring average, had missed four straight shots before finding his rhythm in the clutch. Hitting both jumpers from the right side, Karcher lost Danny Miller on the first one and then curled off a screen for the other 28 seconds later.

Karcher shouted as he ran back on defense, an unusual display for a player whom teammates had described as "unemotional" on the court. His feelings also got the better of him later as he took an ill-advised three-pointer with 1: 10 left, when the Owls were looking to run time off the clock.

"It could have very easily hurt us," Temple coach John Chaney said. "He's got that macho feeling and you can't do that. In pro ball, you can get away with that stuff."

Once the final buzzer sounded, Karcher hugged Terps guard Juan Dixon, who played at Catholic League rival Calvert Hall. After a quick change in the locker room, he came back onto the court and played a little one-on-one with his 2-year-old son, Equan.

Karcher later sat with his grandmother, Eunice Lewis, who raised him and had never before watched her grandson play in college. Karcher said his 17-month-old daughter, Aria, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, didn't attend the game. Still, he said the day was special just having his grandmother there.

"I had her [his grandmother] in the back of my head," Karcher said. "I didn't want it to get to me. It was emotional and I didn't want to force things. I wanted to stay within the game."

What comments?

Two days before playing Temple, coach Gary Williams inferred that Maryland had competed against tougher competition than the Owls' Atlantic 10 schedule.

"The other night was the ultimate," said Williams, referring to the victory at Duke. "They were ranked third and these guys [Temple] are 19th. I don't know. [With games against] Fordham, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Duquesne, they play a little different level. We'll see what happens."

When reminded about the comments yesterday, Williams said he didn't remember making them, then argued that they were not made on the record and called the questioner "an idiot" several times.

Et cetera

Maryland had more turnovers (27) than field goals (24) for the second time this season. The Terps had 28 turnovers and just 25 baskets against George Washington on Dec. 5. Comedian and Temple graduate Bill Cosby chatted with Maryland's Dixon, Terence Morris, Drew Nicholas, Tahj Holden, Calvin McCall and LaRon Cephas for five minutes during their shoot-around. Cosby then talked with the Temple players after they learned that the brother of teammate Alex Wesby had died of an apparent drug overdose Saturday. Wesby, a reserve, dressed for the game, but did not play. Temple's 2-year-old home court, The Apollo, was renamed The Liacouras Center. During the pre-game ceremony dedicating the facility to outgoing university president Peter Liacouras, Terps fans in the upper deck could be heard chanting, "Let's go Maryland."

Sun staff writer Paul McMullen contributed to this article.

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