Pregame notes: Shaquille Cleare healthy after back spasms

January 16, 2013

Some pregame notes to tide you over until Maryland tips off against No. 14 North Carolina State at 7 p.m.

>> Shaquille Cleare was set to start Sunday against Miami, his potential presence giving the Maryland basketball team an additional size advantage inside and allowing Alex Len to display his potential at power forward. But back spasms derailed Cleare’s opportunity before it even began, limiting him throughout practice and to just four minutes against the Hurricanes.

In fact, Maryland’s freshman center is averaging just nine minutes through three ACC games, with a paltry six minutes in the past two. He missed the entire second half in Coral Gables, seeing just one short stint before returning to the bench with one rebound, one foul and one turnover.

Coach Mark Turgeon said Cleare’s absence was primarily attributed to his injured back, which has since healed, though the ineffective minutes didn’t help matters. Cleare figures to be ready for Wednesday night’s test against No. 14 North Carolina State, though.

“He had a great practice today, kept him in, a lot of reps, really competed,” Turgeon said Tuesday. “We need him. We’ll need Shaq. … He was great today. One of his best practices of the year. He’s healthy.”

North Carolina State doesn’t rotate a player taller than 6 feet 9, so having Cleare and Len together could ratchet up the physicality inside and play towards Maryland’s advantage.

>> Dez Wells grew up five minutes from the North Carolina State campus in Raleigh, playing against many current Wolfpack in local tournaments and open gyms. He and Rodney Purvis have a particular friendly rivalry.

“After the fourth or fifth point scored, it turns into football,” Wells said. “It’s not even basketball anymore.”

Wells was also high school teammates with C.J. Leslie at Word of God Academy, winning two state titles there, including one his sophomore season with John Wall.

“It was fun,” wells said. “Playing against those guys in the summer league and stuff, it’s a lot of fun when you’re playing against good competition. It’s really good. That’s something we’re looking forward to in the game tomorrow. Just going out and compete, see how we measure up.

“We talk to each other after every game. It’s going to be exciting playing against those guys. We go home for break, we meet up somewhere and just play open gym. It’s going to be difficult, but it’s going to be fun.”

>> Former Terps coach Gary Williams will be honored with a painting commemorating the 2002 NCAA title team. Artist Opie Otterstad designed and painted the piece, which is part of a collection of 75 individual paintings, one for each of the 75 national title teams since 1939. After its unveiling at halftime, the painting will be auctioned beginning on Jan. 17th at www.ncaa.com/art.

>> Colleague Dan Steinberg wondered in mid-December whether Nick Faust’s curly W tattoo was in support of the Washington Nationals. Turns out, it’s to represent West Baltimore. Apologies for the lack of Natitutde.

>> If you haven’t already, check out this video profile of 2013 Terps signee Roddy Peters. Great stuff from colleague Branden Roth.

>> Wednesday’s game is sold out to the general public.

MUCH, MUCH MORE

Terps to wear Pride uniforms.

Maryland-N.C. State, who ya got?

Terps look for better execution.

Maryland looks for answers to offensive woes.

Mark Turgeon talks point guard situation.

N.C. State’s Mark Gottfried breaks down the matchup.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Matt Bonesteel · January 16, 2013

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