Brig Owens, the former Washington Redskins football player, attends every home Maryland basketball game. There's a reason for that and it's a touching human interest story.
One of Owens' former Washington teammates, All-Pro middle linebacker Harold McLinton, was killed in an auto accident in 1978. Among McLinton's survivors was a son, Kevin, then 7 years old.
Today Kevin McLinton is a junior backcourt starter on the undefeated (3-0) Maryland basketball team that will play Providence in the Meadowlands tomorrow night (7 o'clock) in the final ACC-Big East Challenge.
And Owens, who is married and has two children of his own, has become a sort of surrogate father to Kevin.
"We're close, real close," says Kevin McLinton. "Brig's at every game at Cole and some practices. We talk all the time.
"If I don't see him, he calls me at least twice a week and we talk man-to-man. I'm lucky to have a friend like Brig. He's been a big help to me."
Another McLinton, 17-year-old Darren, is on the varsity at Springbrook High, which Kevin once led to a state championship in basketball and another in football. Kevin returned an interception 99 yards for the clinching touchdown in the title game, played at Byrd Stadium.
Kevin McLinton, 6 feet 3 and 208 pounds, is a natural athlete who is coach Gary Williams' kind of player -- solid at both ends of the floor and hard working in practice as well as games. He's averaging 9.7 points, is tied for the team lead in rebounds with 7.7 per game and is averaging 3.3 steals.
* Speaking of the ACC and Big East, someone at College Park remarked the other day how much better off Maryland is with Andy Geiger as athletic director instead of his predecessor, Lew Perkins, who jumped to Connecticut, of the Big East, in the summer of '90.
Another Terps supporter disagreed, saying, "Don't forget, Lew Perkins hired Gary Williams. It was Andy Geiger who gave Joe Krivak a four-year contract."
* Pete Pompey is in St. Louis today, which is hardly where you'd expect the basketball coach at Dunbar High to be when his team is in Baltimore.
But then the basketball people at Dunbar no doubt are learning more geography out of the classroom than in it these days.
Dunbar, rated No. 1 in the nation in USA Today's preseason poll, opens its season Friday against Beaver Falls (Pa.) in Johnstown.
From there the Poets will go to tournaments in St. Louis, Hawaii, and Myrtle Beach, S.C. The St. Louis tournament flew Pompey out there today for a news conference.
"Tournament sponsors pay the expenses for these teams," explains Bill Spotts, chairman of the Reebok Charm City Classic to be played at the Towson Center Jan. 17-18 (all profits to charity). "The Hawaii tournament is paying all expenses for six days for a Dunbar traveling party of 20."
If you want to see Dunbar locally, you'll have to wait until Dec. 12 when the Poets play at Mount St. Joe.
In Charm City pairings announced yesterday, Dunbar will meet St. Raymond's, of The Bronx, N.Y., on Friday at 7 p.m. with Southern High meeting St. Anthony's, of Jersey City, N.J., at 9. The next night the two Baltimore schools will swap opponents.
* In the wake of Cal Ripken's winning the MVP and Gold Glove awards, Johnny Rice expresses the feelings of a lot of his fellow Baltimore sports lovers.
"Do you realize how lucky we've been?" he asks. "For all those years we had the greatest third baseman ever, Brooks Robinson. Now we have the greatest shortstop, Cal Ripken. We had John Unitas, and he's considered the greatest quarterback. And I put Chuck Thompson up in the same class."
* If there was any doubt about the ability of Frank Montgomery, who fights Baltimore's Vincent Pettway in a 10-rounder at the Pikesville Armory tomorrow night, it has been dispelled.
Montgomery recently went nine tough rounds with Buddy McGirt, who took away Simon Brown's WBC welterweight title in Las Vegas last Friday.
Pettway (32-4 with 27 KOs) needs this fight to earn an International Boxing Federation title shot.
"Pettway is a better fighter since he moved up to junior middleweight," says promoter Stu Satosky. "He wouldn't eat for a couple days before making the weight at 147 and he just wasn't strong. He'll be 151 or 152 for this fight. That's a more natural weight for him."
There are 14 local fighters on the nine-bout card, one reason ticket sales have been brisk.