Logan Aronhalt finding his groove as a role-playing shooter

November 27, 2012

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

With Northwestern expected to throw some 1-3-1 zone at the Maryland basketball team during Tuesday night’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup, senior guard Logan Aronhalt may again be counted on to provide a spark off the bench. The fifth-year transfer from Albany turned in by far the best performance of his Maryland career against Georgia Southern, hitting 4 of 4 three-pointers for 12 points.

Just getting to that point, however, was a struggle. Once Dez Wells transferred this August and instantly joined the starting lineup as a dynamic wing threat, Aronhalt’s potential minutes got cut even less. He’s been thrust into a tough position thus far, forced to come off the bench for limited playing time and still make open shots, while playing an unfamiliar man-to-man defensive scheme given the matchup zone he played at Albany.

An early-morning shooting session helped refocus Aronhalt before the Georgia Southern game, and Turgeon said he’s still plenty happy about attending Maryland. Aronhalt is pursuing a graduate degree in exercise physiology, and has been learning from director of basketball performance Kyle Tarp about the program’s nutrition, regeneration and stretching routines.

But Aronhalt has been fighting through back, knee and ankle issues this season, Turgeon said, and played just four minutes against Kentucky, 13 in the blowout of Morehead State, five against LIU-Brooklyn and nine against Lafayette.

“I think he’s handled it professionally,” Turgeon said. “He’s handled it like a fifth-year senior. He’s been very mature about it. Things changed dramatically for him with Dez. He’s handled it well. I think he knows why he’s here and what he needs to do to help us. Each game will be different.”

Before Georgia Southern, Aronhalt hadn’t made more than one three-pointer in any of Maryland’s regular season games (he was 3 of 7 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc in the exhibition against Indiana University of Pennsylvania).

Finding a stable rotation has been a challenge for Turgeon thus far, and he’s still unsure of where Aronhalt fits into the equation moving forward.

“I don’t know yet,” Turgeon said. “It was good to see him make shots and get multiple shots. I think he made one the game before that. A lot of pressure when you don’t p lay a lot, come in and get an open look to make it. I was happy for him. Really helped our team the other night. I think he guarded better. That’s really the biggest hiccup with him, defensively, just being able to do it. If he can do it defensively, I know he can help us offensively.”

>> Charles Mitchell has received plenty of deserved praise thus far, scoring a team-high 13 points against Georgia Southern and tacking on 11 rebounds for his first career double-double. But Turgeon remains hard on his freshman forward, arguably Mitchell’s biggest critic, if only because of the potential he sees.

“I don’t think he’s playing as well as everyone thinks he’s playing,” Turgeon said. “He rebounds well and he gets second-chance buckets and he made some nice points, but he’s got to become a lot better defender. He’s got to become a better screener.

“I’ve been pretty hard on Charles, because I do think there’s a lot there for him. I was happy for him the other night, because he made shots and played with energy. I thought we’d get a kid who’d play hard, try to rebound every ball. I do think he’ll be better low-post scorer as time goes on. I think he’ll be a guy we can go to later in his career, hopefully this year.

He looks like he’s ready because of the hustle plays, but he’s got a long ways to go, mentally and physically, understanding. For a lot of our young guys, the game’s just moving way too fast. Three of the four, it’s moving fast.”

Who’s the fourth? “It’s easier when you’re a point guard,” Turgeon said. “Does that give it away?” (It’s Seth Allen.)

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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