Every now and then, Charles Mitchell doesn’t practice quite the way Mark Turgeon wants him to.
And in response, the Maryland coach will wryly inform Mitchell he’s hurting himself in one big way: Playing time.
“It makes me want to just show him I’m really motivated,” Mitchell said. “It’s like proving a point to someone when you were a little kid. If someone told you you couldn’t do something, you just did it just to prove a point. It’s not proving a point, just showing him I’m motivated and I care about winning. I guess he knows that, but he picks on me about it at practice. Every little thing.”
It would seem Mitchell, who averaged 9.5 rebounds in Maryland’s first two games, can handle a little criticism from his coach.
Maybe even a lot of criticism.
What he’d rather not handle is coming off the floor.
“Every time I take Charles out, he’s pissed,” Turgeon said. “If he played 39 minutes and 50 seconds, he’d be mad. So when he’s not practicing hard, I tell him that: ‘If you would practice a little harder, maybe I wouldn’t take you out as much.”
When Turgeon’s comment was relayed to Mitchell on Thursday, he leaned back and cackled knowingly. In an instant, a few unspoken sentiments clearly came into play.
There was a hand-caught-in-the-cookie-jar element to the laugh. There was the understanding what might have previously been an inside joke was revealed.
But most importantly, Mitchell’s competitiveness was stoked as well.
“It’s not a selfish thing,” Mitchell said. “I have a winning spirit and I feel like I’ll do any little thing to help my team win. I’m not a selfish person at all because I just love helping my team win. If I was on the court for 10 seconds, I would probably dive for a loose ball or something to help my team win.”
It does beg the question: Could Mitchell, if necessary, play 40 minutes right now? His best total in two games was 21 minutes on Monday.
“Forty minutes straight?” Mitchell said. “Probably 32 —- [maybe] 39:40 with 20 seconds to get a little bit of water. But if he told me to do it, I’d do it.”
When you have a winning spirit, there’s no turning down extra playing time.
—- Patrick Stevens