Maryland-Virginia pregame notes: Charles Mitchell has ‘paid his dues’


(Associated Press)

Maryland forward Charles Mitchell was back on the Comcast Center floor Saturday afternoon, just like he had been the day before. Any discipline stemming from his midgame tirade during Tuesday night’s game against Virginia Tech ended when Coach Mark Turgeon banished the sophomore into the locker room. Nothing more was needed.

“He’s paid his dues,” Turgeon said, repeating himself for emphasis. “He paid his dues.”

Turgeon and Mitchell met Thursday, when through undisclosed conversations they discussed the incident which saw Mitchell yell at assistant coach Scott Spinelli, receive his punishment, exit through the tunnel and eventually return to sit at the end of the bench. Later that day, the program announced that Mitchell would be eligible to play Sunday in the regular season finale against No. 5 Virginia, when his services as the team’s leading rebounder would be sorely needed.

“I don’t want to get into it too much, but Charles has been, off the court, he goes to class, he’s on time for study hall, he does a lot of things right,” Turgeon said. “Just gets a little too emotional in games. He was embarrassed by it. He was embarrassed when he had to leave the bench and go to the locker room. But he needed it. It’s part of his … hopefully it’ll help him grow up a little bit.”

Turgeon hadn’t decided whether Mitchell or center Shaq Cleare – who had his best game in a month once his close friend and classmate left the game – would start against the Cavaliers, but praised Mitchell for his work ethic after their meeting. The Terps received two days off after beating Virginia Tech, so Mitchell didn’t miss any practice or workouts.

“Great,’ Turgeon said, when asked about Mitchell. “Fantastic. Really, really good. We all have been. We’ve had two great practices.”

>> The Terrapins were so impatient during their 61-53 loss to Virginia on Feb. 10 that Turgeon installed a three-man perimeter weave, with no purpose except to keep his players from shooting too early in the shot clock. The guards handed off the basketball, far from even the three-point line, several times before resetting and going into the basic offense.

Ideally, the Terps would be disciplined enough in the rematch to run their standard motion offense while being more patient on their shot selection.

“But when you get caught up and you play 35 seconds of defense down here, because they grind you, you just have to tell yourself, you need to make them work too,” forward Evan Smotrycz said. “We don’t want to be on defense the whole game. Ideally we move the ball, guys get great shots.”

Turgeon was unsure whether Maryland would do something similar Sunday, but seemed more focused on how his team would guard the visitors. The Cavaliers boast seven regulars scoring more than 1.00 points per possession – the Terps have five – and love to bleed clock to find easy, late looks.

“We’ve been working on guarding the whole clock because they’ll run their little down screen, then late go into a side ball screen,” Smotrycz said. “That’s usually when they score. We’ve been working on finishing rebounds and finishing late-clock situations.”

>> A total sellout Sunday would be Maryland’s second in ACC games this season and seventh during the Turgeon era. For contrast, Comcast Center never had fewer than five conference sellouts in a season under Gary Williams, and three of the four smallest ACC crowds in building history have come this season.

Tuesday’s attendance barely cracked 10,500, which given the circumstances – a midweek night game against a last-place team the day after a heavy show – was viewed as a win by Turgeon.

“I come out early and I look at it,” Turgeon said, when asked how much he pays attention to attendance. “After halftime you’ll come out and it’s usually a little different. You take a quick look. Normally you don’t pay attention. Next day I’ll ask what we have.”

Perhaps a schedule absent of North Carolina and Duke has contributed to low ticket sales this season, but the Terps sold out two ACC games during Turgeon’s inaugural season and three last year.

>> Students will receive these T-shirts, which appear to be the same that football fans received when Virginia last came to town.

 

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · March 8, 2014