Marlin Wise was back last night, and suddenly all was right with Towson University's once-dismal basketball team.
Wise walked onto the court for the first time in a game this season with 2: 16 gone in the first half, and he immediately transformed the Tigers into winners.
Wise was a leader, an inspiration to his teammates, a superb passer, a defensive force with his quickness and a legitimate offensive threat all wrapped up in one as Towson overcame Northeastern, 62-52, in an America East game at the Towson Center.
The victory ended an eight-game losing streak for Towson (2-9, 1-2) and prevented the team from losing a sixth straight game at the Towson Center, which would have broken a school record at the 22-year-old arena.
Wise, a 5-foot-11 junior point guard, was academically ineligible for the first 10 games but contributed seven points, seven assists and one steal in 19 outstanding minutes last night.
But guess what?
Wise said he was only "50 percent" and gave himself a "C" in his 1998-99 season debut.
"I was so excited and emotional out there," Wise said. "It was a humbling experience to sit out all those games. But I'm back now and ready to help this team win a lot of games the rest of the season. I've been practicing every day, but there is nothing like being out there."
Wise let Northeastern (4-7, 1-2) know real soon what he was all about, whipping a perfect pass on a backdoor play to Josh Davalli for a layup and a 7-7 tie just 5: 42 into the game.
"Marlin gave us so much," said Towson coach Mike Jaskulski. "Sure, there are all the obvious things he does, but he also makes our defensive matchups so much better for the likes of a shooter like Raul de Pablo. With Marlin out, Raul had to guard some really quick people and it wore his legs down, and you know how much a shooter relies on his legs."
When Wise was asked how tough it was to sit and watch for 10 games, he received a barb in jest from Jaskulski before he could answer.
"And he had to sit there while being stared at [by Jaskulski for not making the grade academically]," the coach said with a laugh. "I'm sure Damon [Cason] is glad Marlin's back."
Cason was able to move from the point to shooting guard last night and he responded with 10 points, three assists and one steal.
While most of the attention was focused on the return of Wise, sophomore forward Brian Barber was an all-around performer.
Barber sang the national anthem and led Towson with 12 points and nine rebounds in 34 minutes. It was the third time Barber has sang the national anthem at the Towson Center, and the team is 2-1 when he sings.
Guy Zenou contributed 11 points for the Tigers and Alphonso Hawes had seven rebounds for the winners, giving him 23 in the last two games.
Lightning-quick Northeastern guard Marcus Blossom kept his team close all night with 20 points.
NORTHEASTERN -- Kringe 2-6 1-2 5, Green 4-8 0-1 8, Adams 1-3 0-0 2, Rain 2-7 1-2 5, Blossom 8-18 3-5 20, Bond 0-0 2-2 2, Lattimore 1-1 1-2 3, Harris 3-6 0-0 7, Wright 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-51 8-14 52.
TOWSON -- Barber 4-8 4-6 12, Davalli 4-7 0-0 9, Hawes 1-2 2-3 4, de Pablo 1-2 2-2 5, Cason 4-6 0-0 10, Mauro 2-7 0-0 4, Wise 2-5 2-3 7, Holtz 0-1 0-0 0, Zenou 5-5 0-1 11. Totals 23-43 10-15 62.
Halftime--Towson, 33-29. Three-point goals--N 2-11 (Blossom 1-3, Harris 1-3, Rain 0-2, Kringe 0-3); TU 6-14 (Cason 2-3, Zenou 1-1, de Pablo 1-2, Davalli 1-3, Wise 1-4, Mauro 0-1). Rebounds--N 21 (Green 5); TU 39 (Barber 9). Assists--N 10 (Rain 5); TU 14 (Wise 7). Total fouls--N 19, TU 17. A--628.
Pub Date: 1/06/99