Much of Maryland's 54-47 loss at Miami on Sunday was unsightly.
One part, though, was puzzling: The limited action of freshman Shaquille Cleare.
The freshman was supposed to start, but back spasms kept him out of practice Saturday. Cleare checked in for four minutes in the first half, but never returned.
Later, coach Mark Turgeon said Cleare didn't play well, which was a bit odd because (a) He didn't play much, maybe not enough from a non-coach's perspective to get a great feel for how he was faring and (b) He wasn't the only Terp who didn't distinguish himself against the Hurricanes.
And so the subject was broached against Tuesday.
"His back was bothering him a little bit," Turgeon said. "He hadn’t practiced. Just didn’t really have a flow for what we were doing. I didn’t want to risk it so I didn’t play him."
That makes more sense.
Here's the upshot for Cleare, who is averaging 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds, and the Terps (13-3, 1-2 ACC): The big fella had what Turgeon described as one of his best practices of the season Tuesday and should be good to go Wednesday against N.C. State (14-2, 3-0).
"I hope Shaq can play tomorrow night and play well," Turgeon said. "He had a great practice today. Kept him in and he got a lot of reps. He really competed. We need him."
--- Patrick Stevens