Future frontcourt combo

With Len struggling for a second straight game, Turgeon played freshmen Charles Mitchell and Shaquille Cleare together for longer stints than he had all season. Both of the young wide bodies responded with strong games, with Cleare getting 10 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes as a starter and Mitchell, who started the second half, picking up eight points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes.

I wrote in Terps Trio Friday that I thought Turgeon should have played Cleare more against BC rather than Len and I thought Saturday that the team played better with the two freshmen bigs than it did with the 7-foot-1 sophomore from the Ukraine. Mitchell helped the Terps get out of their early hole and Cleare helped them extend the lead in the second half.

“It’ good to see another big body out there than Shaq can bang on,” Turgeon said. “The Duke game he hd [Mason] Plumlee and then [Devin] Booker today. I always tell Shaq, ‘They’re big and strong, but they’re not big and strong as you are.’ And he can wear ‘em down. I was happy for him. Shaq really played well. Tuesday was his birthday at Boston College and it wasn’t a good matchup for him. He was really down after the game.”

Said Mitchell, “I feel when Alex is not at his best, when James [Padgett] is not at his best, I feel that it is our job, our duty [his and Cleare’s] to go in there,” Mitchell said. “I know some nights I’m not going to play well and they’re going to have my back.”

Mitchell said that the bond he has with Cleare that goes back to last summer when they first played as teammates in the Capital Classic has continued to build on and off the court. Mitchell said that Cleare was upset after the Boston College game “because we didn’t win” and figured that Cleare just went back into the gym, something he does after every day.

“He’s probably working out right now,” Mitchell said.

Sure enough, Cleare could be seen working in the team’s fitness and performance center on his low post game with director of performance Kyle Tarp.

Len's disappearing act

After putting together one of his best games of the season against Duke with 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, Len has been virtually invisible the past two games. He had five points and four rebounds in the loss to Boston College and didn’t have much to do with Saturday’s win either.

Turgeon tried to be kind, attributing Len’s lackluster play to being “a little dead-legged”.  Turgeon also said that he has has taken Cleare off Len in practice – “Shaq beating on you wears you down,” Turgeon said – but admitted that Len has to “change his mindset a little.”

When I asked Turgeon what he meant by that comment, the second-year coach said, “I think he’s just got to pretend he’s playing Plumlee every game, that might help. To me, Booker is a heckuva player and a tough challenge and he should have been a little more into it.”

Booker finished with 16 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots against Len.


 Though this didn’t look like that tough a week after the Duke win, but road games at Georgia Tech Wednesday and Wake Forest Saturday could be a tough haul for Turgeon’s young team. The Yellow Jackets beat Virginia at home and won road games at Wake Forest and Virginia Tech in a stretch of four wins in eight games going into Sunday’s game in Charlottesville. The Demon Deacons waxed No. 2 Miami Saturday, 80-65, in Winston-Salem, N.C. Saturday, handing the Hurricanes their first ACC loss of the season. It was only Wake Forest’s second win in its last eight games, but the other victory was a 25-point shellacking of Florida State at Joel Coliseum. I think the Terps will be lucky to split these two considering how they’ve played on the road this season.