Tech needs Mitchell’s rebounding vs. UNC

There are times when Charles Mitchell wields his 269 pounds with such ferocity that opponents give in, unwilling to trade abuse for a rebound.

“Sometimes, they just let me go get it and get out of my way because they’re tired of getting hit,” said Mitchell, Georgia Tech’s power forward. “You hit ’em a couple times, they’ll move out of your way.”

It’s unlikely that No. 15 North Carolina, Tech’s Saturday opponent in Chapel Hill, N.C. (noon, WATL), will be ready to surrender to Mitchell. As such, Mitchell’s offensive rebounding prowess could be critically important to the Yellow Jackets’ hopes against the Tar Heels, as Tech needs to do everything it can to maximize possessions and slow North Carolina’s transition game.

Mitchell has been coming off the bench for the past eight games, but remains the Jackets’ best offensive rebounder. He is averaging 6.8 rebounds per game, 3.5 on offense.

“A lot of times, offensive rebounding is mentality, just going after every ball and being in position to do that,” coach Brian Gregory said. “I think he’s done a good job of that.”

Through Thursday’s games, Mitchell was tied for 20th in the country and second in the ACC in offensive rebounds per game. He also ranked eighth in the country and first in the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage (estimate of percentage of offensive rebounds collected against all available rebounds while on the floor), according to

According to the website, whose data dates to the 2000-01 season, only three ACC players since that season have had a higher percentage in a single season than Mitchell’s 17.08.

Going into Saturday’s game, Mitchell actually has more offensive rebounds than defensive, 90-88. To Mitchell, offensive rebounding is a function of timing and effort. He finds that he has more of an advantage on offense than on defense.

“You’re really just moving around, just timing the ball off the rim,” he said. “You don’t have to box anybody out; they have to box you out.”

The offensive glass is one place where Tech could have an advantage against the Tar Heels. North Carolina ranks No. 12 in the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage, while Tech is No. 2 (behind the Tar Heels) in offensive rebounding percentage.

The extra opportunities that Mitchell, Sampson and Demarco Cox have helped furnish via the offensive glass help explain why Tech, despite ranking No. 13 in field-goal percentage in ACC play, has been able to remain competitive in most of its games.

Mitchell has further helped of late, showing a better finishing touch and taking better care of the ball. He turned the ball over once every nine minutes in Tech’s first 19 games, but the rate has been one per 35.3 minutes in the past seven. His free-throw shooting also has improved considerably. In his first two seasons at Maryland, he shot 41.7 percent from the line. This season, following his transfer, he’s making 66.2 percent.

But rebounding, particularly on offense, is his calling. With a thick frame, he’s got the body for it, too.

“He’s got a pretty good low end, you know what I mean?” Gregory said. “And he uses it pretty well.”

Said Tech forward Robert Sampson, second on the team at 6.4 rebounds per game, “It’s hard to get around him, definitely, because (when) he hits you, it backs you up.”

Mitchell’s prowess isn’t merely a function of unrelenting brawn. His position around the basket will often depend on who is shooting and where the shot is taken. For instance, when guard Josh Heath drives the lane, Mitchell knows to station himself in front of the basket. That’s where most of his misses, on pull-ups or floaters, end up.

Said Mitchell, “I think I just have a knack for it. I can’t tell you how. That’s something I know I’m really good at and focus on a lot.”