Wizards

Mitchell leads Maryland past Delaware State 79-50

Mitchell leads Maryland past Delaware State 79-50

By Chris Knoche

CSNWashington.com Contributor

It would be impossible to blame Maryland coach Mark Turgeon for being excited about what he’s seeing right now.

His team just finished off their eleventh consecutive win by drilling Delaware State 79-50 before 12,389 at Comcast Center. He had just witnessed season best performances from two key reserves as well as a solid showing from start to finish by the rest of his club.

That the Terps had just spanked Delaware State was not surprising. The Hornets entered the game at 5-7 and a rout was predictable. The way it unfolded was both methodical and precise and represented the best outing–from start to finish–of the Terps this season.

Midway through the first half Delaware had slowed the game to a crawl with a laudable offensive patience and owned a 16-15 lead after a pair of made free throws. Turgeon and his troops were clearly frustrated with the pace and flow of the game.

Enter Charles Mitchell.

The 6’8” freshman has been a man-child for much of the season, to be certain, but he played this game like the newest present under the Terp Nation Christmas tree.

With his team trailing by one at that point, Mitchell scored the first six points of a 17-0 Maryland run that didn’t just put the Terps in command, it effectively ended the contest. The Terps had started the game 3-8 from the field and missed some easy shots in the paint. When you don’t score it completely takes any pressure defense- the easiest way to speed up the tempo of the game- out of the equation. From the time Mitchell caught fire to the end of the first half, the Terps shot 16-18 from the field and led 40-22 at intermission.

While Mitchell had a big hand in changing the course of the game in that first half he had plenty of help. Fellow freshmen Seth Allen and Jake Layman each had six points and shot a combined 5-6 from the field. Allen has proven himself to be up to the task of basketball at this level. Layman has offered tantalizing size and talent but not the production. In terms of style and substance, this was his best half of the season.

The second half would end up being a mirror image of the first with Delaware State starting quickly before succumbing to Maryland’s size and depth. Turgeon continued to coach like it was hockey and kept sending wave after wave of fresh Terps over the boards for regular line changes.

Mitchell ended the game with gargantuan numbers–season high 19 points and 14 rebounds. Allen and sophomore Dez Wells each chipped in ten points but the team numbers dwarfed the individual ones.

Maryland continued a new-found offensive efficiency and shot 33-58 (57%). Their selflessness was on display once again as they totaled 19 assists versus just 10 turnovers. They harassed the Hornets into horrid shooting (18-56, 32%) and forced 19 turnovers.

Perhaps the only thing that Turgeon could find to complain about after the game came in the most unlikely statistical category. The Terps have been in the top five nationally in rebounding all year long and Delaware State didn’t have a starter over 6’7” yet the battle on the backboards was pretty much even all day long. Were it not for Mitchell’s efforts the Terps may have actually found themselves out-rebounded for the first time this season. The final Maryland advantage of 36-30 felt deceptive given the fact that the Hornets tallied 16 rebounds on their offensive end.

Maryland has one more opportunity for a “tune-up” prior to the beginning of ACC play one week from today. They will host IUPUI at home on New Year’s Day as they ramp up to their league home opener against Virginia Tech.

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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

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Wizards pick up Kelly Oubre, Jr.'s contract option with bright future ahead

The play of Kelly Oubre, Jr. over the past calendar year had made the Wizards picking up his contract option an increasingly easy decision. On Saturday, they opted to keep him for the fourth year of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 season, and did so with a week to spare before the deadline.

Oubre, 21, has emerged as a key contributor for a Wizards team with expectations of a deep playoff run. He is still finding his trule role in the NBA, but with his youth and potential, and the fact he's still on a rookie deal, Oubre has a unique place on their roster.

John Wall and Bradley Beal have already emerged as stars. Otto Porter still has room to get much better, but has already arrived and earned a max contract. Oubre, though already established in their rotation, has plenty of room to grow.

Oubre, the 15th overall pick in 2015, doubled his minutes last season to 20.3 per game under head coach Scott Brooks with averages of 6.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals per game. He earned Brooks' trust mainly on the defensive end with his versatility and high motor.

Consistency is where Oubre needs to improve, but through two games this season he appears to have taken another step. Oubre added two inches to his vertical leap over the summer despite rehabbing from platelet-rich plasma treatment on his right knee. He also gained some muscle, allowing him to make strides as a rebounder. Oubre has 15 rebounds through two games and said it's specific focus of his.

[RELATED: WALL TALKS LONZO AND LAVAR BALL]

The Wizards are a good enough offensive team currently to where Oubre can focus on defense and rebounding. But his growing confidence on offense has been evident so far this year and especially in the preseason. He has worked on dribbling with his right hand and the result is more aggression attacking the rim. Though still not a polished product, Oubre is taking small steps to emerge as a more dangerous scoring threat.

The Wizards will have another decision to make on Oubre this time next year. One day before the 2018-19 regular season begins, they will have to choose whether to hand Oubre a rookie scale contract extension. They weren't able to beat that deadline with Porter and the next summer he received a $106.5 million max deal after hitting the market as a restricted free agent. 

Oubre at this very moment wouldn't command that type of money in free agency, but the same was said about Porter at this point in his career. Porter was able to improve significantly in his fourth season.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis said this summer that he would love to have Oubre force the issue with his performance on the court.

"He's going to come back and work really, really hard and challenge us to pay him a lot of money, too, which I'm glad to do," Leonsis said. 

It's early in the season, but Oubre may be on his way towards making the Wizards ponder his long-term future.

The Washington Post first reported Oubre's contract option getting picked up.

[RELATED: WALL EXPLAINS WOLF SEASON]

 

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

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John Wall doesn't hold LaVar Ball's talking against Lonzo, but knows 'he'll be targeted'

Clippers guard Patrick Beverley made a point to embarrass Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in the latter's NBA debut. After dominating him on the court, Beverley said he had to "set the tone." 

On Wednesday, Wizards point guard John Wall will get a crack at Ball when Washington plays the Lakers at the Staples Center. Wall knows why Beverley went after Ball like that, but says he doesn't blame Ball himself.

"I think his dad put him in a situation where guys are going to target him," Wall said on the Wizards Tipoff podcast, referencing LaVar Ball. "Lonzo is one of those kids that is very talented. He's been a good player for years, he just don't say much. I think his dad does all the talking for him."

Ball, 19, was the second overall pick in this June's NBA Draft. He had just three points on 1-of-6 shooting against the Clippers on Wednesday, but bounced back for 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists against the Suns on Friday. 

Wall thinks Ball will be fine as long as he can keep up his production on the court to back up his dad's trash-talking.

"He's a great kid from what I've seen on the outside looking in," Wall said. "A lot of people in this league are going to take it personally. It's not the son's fault. He went back and had a better game [vs. the Suns]. That's all he's gotta do is go out there and play. He's not gonna do any talking anyways. If he gets killed or don't get killed or kills somebody, he's not going to be the guy talking."

Wall is as competitive as they come and will give Ball a tough challenge on Wednesday night, but it doesn't sound like he plans to pull a Beverley and overtly embarrass him.

Listen to Wall's full 1-on-1 interview on the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

[RELATED: WALL SAYS HE'S THE BEST SHOT-BLOCKING PG EVER]