Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House
COLLEGE PARK--Maryland sophomores Shaquille Cleare and Charles Mitchell are roommates. They’re both 6-8 and close to 260 pounds and are often on different teams in practice, pushing, shoving and scrapping for position on a team trying to find the fight within the dog, so to speak, with the bulk of the ACC schedule on the horizon.
They are complementary pieces. They are best friends. They pace each other, even if the method isn’t exactly the PR polished let’s-sit-down-and-talk-this-out style.
“No one is harder on us than both of us. We be talking trash, close to fights,” Cleare says of his battles with Mitchell in practice, before cracking a smile.
“But I’m going to win the fight anyway. That isn’t important.”
Their two seasons, though, have taken divergent paths. Mitchell has been a key producer off the bench for the Terrapins, averaging 8.8 points and 6.6 assists per game. Cleare, on the other hand, has started every game but averaged only 4.1 points and 2.7 rebounds.
Saturday afternoon in a 66-62 Maryland win over Florida Atlantic was different, as Cleare broke out for a season-high 10 points and added five rebounds. He exploited the opponent’s zone, settling in near the rim with his hands up, ready and in a position to score, and it paid off.
Off of dribble penetration by Maryland’s guards and wings, Cleare had space to work and often an open look at the basket.
“If a team runs a on you zone like that, you just really have to be patient,” Cleare said. “That’s what we’ve been drilled with every day in practice and it was just part of the game today.”
Head coach Mark Turgeon was equally as pleased, both with Cleare and his complement, Mitchell.
“A lot of [their baskets] were layups and things, but they finished,” Turgeon said. “So to get 20 points out of those two is good. We hadn’t had that this year … It’s good to see them two play well and play physical.”
Maryland now has a week off from games as players take their final exams, but expect the Cleare-Mitchell dynamic not to miss a beat.
“If he’s not getting it done, I’m going to get on him because that’s like my little brother,” Cleare said. “If I’m messing up, he always gets on me. We just want to push one another every day.”