Garrison Suspended One Game For Involvement in Bar Incident

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 15, 2006

Maryland forward Travis Garrison will serve a one-game suspension tonight against Wake Forest because of his involvement in an incident at a College Park bar Oct. 27, Coach Gary Williams said yesterday.

Garrison, a senior, turned himself in to Prince George's County police Friday and was charged with second-degree assault and a fourth-degree sex offense, both misdemeanors. Williams said he suspended Garrison because Garrison was "where he shouldn't have been," and Williams will allow the legal process to take its course before determining whether further punishment is warranted.

"It's a response that is separate from whether he is guilty or not guilty," Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow said of the suspension. "It has to do with the team rules that he violated."

Garrison is accused of grabbing a woman's buttocks three times and, when she protested, slapping her face with an open hand, splitting open her lip, according to police documents.

Williams said players are not allowed to frequent bars, even in October, because of an incident involving senior Chris McCray, who was arrested in August because police said he refused to leave the scene of a fight. All charges from that incident were dropped.

McCray was listed in court documents as a witness to the incident involving Garrison at Cornerstone Grill & Loft on Baltimore Avenue. But Williams said McCray will not be suspended because "he was there, but that's it."

Garrison, who was not available to comment yesterday, is expected to be on Maryland's bench during tonight's game at Comcast Center.

"It's frustrating, especially when seniors are involved because they should know better," Williams said. "But at the same time, they are my players. I'm doing everything I can to help Travis in this situation."

When asked if the decision to suspend Garrison was made by Williams or Yow, Williams said: "Me. Me." Yow said yesterday that she and Williams discussed the suspension and that she deemed it appropriate.

Williams said only a small number of individuals were made aware of the suspension Friday evening, including players, whom Williams told in confidence, and "some people in the athletic department that you have to tell." Williams was upset when a television station reported the suspension late Friday night because he felt someone leaked the information to the detriment of the program.

Garrison's arrest and suspension could not have come at a worse time for the Terrapins, who have struggled mightily in blowout losses at Miami and Duke over the past eight days. The 23rd-ranked Terps (11-4, 1-2 ACC) still lack a victory on the road this season and will look to avoid a costly third consecutive conference loss tonight.

Point guard D.J. Strawberry called tonight's game a "must-win" because it's critical to protect home court in the ACC. The game is just as crucial for the Demon Deacons (11-4, 0-2), who are trying to avoid their first 0-3 conference start since the 1989-90 season.

Much like Maryland, Wake Forest has had trouble at point guard. The Demon Deacons have committed at least 20 turnovers in six games this year.

The Terps will look to rebound from a 29-turnover effort in a 76-52 defeat at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. Duke extended its defense throughout, rendering Maryland's half-court offense futile in the first half. Williams and players said the Terps rushed things in the half court and did not allow plays to develop at the usual pace.

No player seemed to take the loss harder than Strawberry, who is starting at point guard because Maryland has few alternatives.

"I have to play better," said Strawberry, who has had 11 turnovers and four assists the past two games. "I was extremely disappointed in my performance at Duke. I just got outplayed. It's not really sitting well with me right now."

Strawberry and center Ekene Ibekwe, whose play will be key in Garrison's absence, declined to discuss Garrison's situation. They said it has not caused a distraction because everyone is focused on playing well tonight.

"It's been a tough week," Williams said. "Good teams rise when things get tough. You get your back to the wall a little bit. Besides, I'm from New Jersey."

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