Sometimes, it seems like there isn’t much to be learned from exhibition games. DI teams struggle against, and sometimes even lose to, DII opponents, but there’s not much real intelligence to be gained from such outcomes. Plenty of teams have struggled in the exhibition season only to play well thereafter.
Sometimes, however, a pre-season game is a debut, a coming-out party. For Maryland, a game against the paradoxically-named Indiana University of Pennsylvania provided just such a dramatic reveal. Mark Turgeon’s team won 73-61, but the second-year Maryland head coach was less than pleased with the effort and focus his team showed throughout the game. That includes Nick Faust, who scored 13 points but gave the ball away four times.
So who drew Turgeon’s praise? A freshman. Not behemoth Shaq Cleare, who nabbed four boards but put in no points. Turgeon told the Washington Post who really caught his attention:
“I thought we played soft in the post, both offensively and defensively. We were too nice and too friendly, except for Charles Mitchell.”
Mitchell, a 6-foot-8 freshman from Atlanta, was monstrous in his public debut. He had eight points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive. (Seth) Allen paced the Terrapins with a game-high 16 points, added five assists and wreaked havoc on the Division II River Hawks’ offense with five steals.
Mitchell was not a big-name recruit for the Terps — Scout.com gave him just three stars, questioning his size and athleticism — but he could turn into the right guy for the team nonetheless. The Terrapins were middle of the pack in ACC rebounding, with a particular deficit on the defensive end, last season. If the undersized, moderately athletic but not-nice Mitchell proves himself to be determined to do the dirty work his team needs, he might find a fair amount of playing time.
We shall see. The Terps will get a huge test in the upcoming week, facing the young, mega-talented defending champs from Kentucky in Brooklyn.
(photo: Maryland Athletics)
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.