NCAA

Maryland freshmen prove they belong in the big-time

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Maryland freshmen prove they belong in the big-time

On a night when the Maryland basketball program had a chance to announce it belonged back in the spotlight, the young Terrapin team seized the opportunity.

Despite losing 72-69, Maryland fought tooth and nail with the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats. Maryland entered the game unranked while Kentucky came in with its own ESPN reality show, a slew of high school All-Americans on its roster and the No. 3 ranking in the land.

Maryland was paced by leading scorer Alex Len. The 7-foot sophomore dominated stretches of the game, proving to be the best player on the court. After the game, Kentucky coach John Calipari called Len a "beast."

Many projections for Len entering the season expected the young man from the Ukraine to make tremendous strides in his game, and in the first game of the year he showed why. He finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds, highs for both teams. Len was quite impressive, and looks poised for an All-ACC type season, if not more, if he can continue with these types of performances.

But Maryland had more than just Len. Entering this season, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon brought in one of the highest rated recruiting classes to College Park in almost a decade. The stars of the recruiting class were big man Shaquille Cleare and guard/forward Jake Layman. Both Cleare and Layman showed some flashes in Brooklyn against the Wildcats, but the star freshmen performances belonged to guard Seth Allen and forward Charles Mitchell.

Allen, a lightly recruited combo guard from Woodbridge, Va., showed that he may soon be starting. In more than 20 minutes, Allen scored nine points and dished out five assists. Perhaps Allen's most impressive stat was that the freshman commited zero turnovers in 25 minutes of play. When the Terps briefly held a lead in the second half, it was Seth Allen who hit the three to put them there.

"Seth's a big time scorer," Turgeon said after the game. "He's going to be great for us."
 
Allen plays with a decisiveness that the other Terp guards seem to lack. He drives when he wants to, shoots when the shot is there, and makes the right passes. It also seems pretty obvious that on the court Allen plays with a chip on his shoulder. He was lightly recruited. Many "experts" questioned Turgeon when he offered Allen a scholarship. Now, it certainly looks like the coach made the right move.

Allen impressed, as did fellow freshman Charles Mitchell. Mitchell's recruitment came with more fanfare than Allen's, but the Georgia big man was not expected to make this significant of a contribution to the Terps this early. Mitchell showed his commitment to the team by slimming down in the offseason, entering the season with more stamina than he ever had in his high-school career.

In 16 minutes against a big Wildcat front court, Mitchell hauled down 10 rebounds, six of them on the offensive end. In the late minutes of a tight game, Turgeon went with Mitchell on the court teamed up with Len down low. That two-some, combined with Cleare and senior James Padgett, could be a lot for other teams in the ACC to handle.

Mitchell's game isn't without faults -- he is a freshman, after all. Repeatedly Mitchell was drawn out to the permiter when gaurding Kentucky's 6'10" Kyle Wiltjer. Despite his height, Wiltjer is more of a shooter than a banger. Mitchell looked uncomfortable guarding along the three-point line, and it is something the big man will have to work on. Wiltjer led the Wildcats in scoring with 19 points, 12 points coming from behind the three-point line.

Where Mitchell looked quite comfortable was in the paint, fighting for real estate and crashing the glass. Rebounding is as much hustle and determination as it is positioning and angles. For a freshman, Mitchell seems to understand that well ahead of the curve.

"Our young kids, all four of them, are ready for this stage," Turgeon said after the game about the freshmen class of Allen, Cleare, Mitchell and Jake Layman.

As the season progresses, it would be no surprise if one or both of Allen and Mitchell enter the starting lineup. Many coaches say that it doesn't matter who starts; rather, what matters is the players on the court at the end of the game. Considering that, Maryland fans should come to expect Allen and Mitchell finishing games for the Terps, just like they did against Kentucky.

Turgeon did not hide some frustration after the game.

"We are disappointed in the loss," he said. "We fully expected to win the game coming up here and we didn't do it. We weren't very good in the first half and I thought Kentucky was great."

Calipari did not go quite as far, but the famous Kentucky coach allowed that if Maryland did not shoot quite so bad from the three point line -- the Terps went 3 for 19 from deep -- they could have pulled off the upset. The Maryland team showed great resolve in the second half, storming all the way back from a 49-36 halftime deficit.

Calipari said he thinks Maryland "could be really good." Even in the loss, Turgeon evoked a similar idea.

"If tonight did anything for us, it energized our fan base. That's big for us," Turgeon said. "We're going to win. We're going to win this year. We just didn't win tonight."

Wilmer Difo homers but Phillies top Nats

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USA TODAY Sports

Wilmer Difo homers but Phillies top Nats

WASHINGTON -- Rhys Hoskins hit a two-run homer, Vince Velasquez pitched five effective innings and the Philadelphia Phillies snapped Washington's six-game win streak with a 3-1 victory over the Nationals on Saturday.

Velasquez (2-4) allowed one run and one hit in his first win since April 7. He also struck out four, walked four and hit a batter.

Edubray Ramos, Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris then combined for four innings of one-hit relief. Neris earned his sixth save.

Trea Turner led off the Washington ninth with a walk and was running when Matt Wieters popped out to short right field. Turner, who slid into second, lost track of the ball and was easily doubled off first.

Wilmer Difo homered for Washington. Third baseman Anthony Rendon went 0 for 2 with two walks after missing 19 games with what the team called a contusion to his toe.

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (2-3) tied his season high with nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. He was charged with three runs and six hits.

Andrew Stevenson accounted for Washington's other hit, a one-out single in the sixth. Pedro Severino followed with a walk, but Ramos induced a double-play grounder from Rafael Bautista.

Cesar Hernandez opened the game with a single off Roark and Hoskins homered to center on a 3-2 pitch. It was his fifth of the season.

Maikel Franco provided an insurance run when he followed Carlos Santana's one-out triple with a single in the sixth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: RHP Ben Lively (lower back strain) threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session. Lively was placed on the disabled list April 27. ... Manager Gabe Kapler said RHP Pat Neshek (shoulder strain) will throw a bullpen session as the next step in his rehabilitation. Neshek has not appeared in a game this season.

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman was scratched from the lineup due to stiffness in his side, according to manager Dave Martinez. ... RHP Trevor Gott, who sprained an ankle in the sixth inning Friday night, is day to day.

UP NEXT

The winners of the last three NL Cy Young Awards square off when Philadelphia's Jake Arrieta (3-1, 3.49 ERA) opposes Max Scherzer (6-1, 1.79 ERA). Arrieta won the award in 2015 with the Cubs and Scherzer, the National League Pitcher of the Month for April, has claimed the honor each of the last two seasons.

Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

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Future NBA prospect Omer Yurtseven transfers to Georgetown from NC State

The pieces are starting to come together for Patrick Ewing.

On Monday the Georgetown Hoyas picked up perhaps the biggest (literally and figuratively) target of the transfer market, Omer Yurtseven.

From North Carolina State, the transfer from Istanbul Turkey will have two years remaining of eligibility. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he is not allowed to play for the 2018-19 season.

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Standing at 7-0, the center helped power the Wolfpack to an NCAA tournament bid this past season. Averaging 13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks a contest, Yurstseven earned All-ACC Third Team honors in the 2017-18 season. He also touted a 58.3 shooting percentage and was not afraid to pull it up from deep either (22 made three-pointers).

NC State lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to No. 8 Seton Hall, but he was limited due to foul trouble with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes of play.

Initially, he is the option to fill the void that Jessie Govan will leave, whether that is during this offseason or next. Already the team has lost power forward Marcus Derrickson

Yurtseven will just be another frontcourt talent for Ewing with the Hoyas.

It was widely reported that he was considering playing options, both in the United States and abroad before this announcement. Easily he has the talent to go in first round of the NBA Draft whichever year he declares.

On the same day, the Hoyas also announced the signing of four-star guard James Akinjo.