As a statistic, double-doubles are somewhat on the arbitrary side. A stat line of 20 points and nine rebounds is, at least on its face, better than 10 points and 10 rebounds.
That said, it does represent a significant impact on the game and, to that end, it’s worth noting that Georgia Tech forward Charles Mitchell has done something remarkable in that area. Mitchell has recorded double-doubles in the Yellow Jackets’ first eight games, helping them to a 6-2 start after their win at Tulane Saturday. Through Sunday, his eight was tied for most in the country, and he and Weber State forward Joel Bolomboy are the only two players in Division I who have a double-double in each of their games.
More notably, Mitchell’s eight consecutive double-doubles is longer than any Tech player in the ACC era. Consider who that includes – among others, John Salley, Tom Hammonds, James Forrest, Malcolm Mackey, Matt Harpring, Jason Collier, Alvin Jones, Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. Mackey and Jones, in fact, had seasons averaging double-doubles. (Mackey had two.)
The fact that none of them had a streak as long speaks both to how impressive the accomplishment is, but also that it’s only a piece of the puzzle. The point being, I’m doubtful anyone is ready to unretire Harpring’s jersey because he didn’t have eight double-doubles in a row. Or Salley or Hammonds’, for that matter.
But it does point to one critical aspect in how Mitchell has improved since last season, which is play with consistency. Last season, Mitchell at times showed he could hold his own against the ACC’s best but also was held back by foul trouble and his inability to bring full effort in each game.
Last season, he had seven double-doubles all season, including back-to-back games against Notre Dame and Syracuse in which he combined for 31 points and 23 rebounds. He also went missing in games against Clemson (six points, three rebounds, four fouls) and Duke (four points, two rebounds, three fouls).
Last week, Mitchell said he was striving “to have more consistency in my game and just continue to play at the level or play better than I am playing. Just trying to stay consistent throughout the whole season.”
Coach Brian Gregory said last week that Mitchell was his team’s best practice player. Even by his own admission, that title would not have belonged to Mitchell last season.
“If you asked me before, I’d probably give you three hard practices and then take four off,” he said.
After working to control his diet and improve his conditioning, Mitchell is at about 254 pounds, down from 279 last season. Since the end of last season, Mitchell lost 20.3 pounds of fat mass, according to strength and conditioning coach Mike Bewley, and it is evident in his appearance. It has helped him practice and play harder and longer.
“Consistency is the key,” he said. “If you can consistently bring it in practice, then it’s going to show on the basketball court in the game. If you can do it when nobody’s around, then of course you can do it when everybody’s around.”
Clearly, at least through eight games, he’s done it with everybody around.
Obviously, he has done it against a lighter non-conference schedule, albeit one that has included Tennessee and Arkansas. He hammered the Razorbacks for 18 points and 18 rebounds. No player has recorded as many rebounds against Arkansas going back at least to the 2010-11 season, according to sports-reference.com. Likewise, it’s the high for Tech over the same time period.
“I don’t know if that has ever happened, where a guy gets 18 and 18,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said after the game, an 83-73 win on Thanksgiving Day at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mitchell is averaging 14.5 points and 13 rebounds. After eight games last season, he was averaging 10.4 and 7.8.
Mitchell’s streak will end eventually. However, if Tech can continue to receive that sort of consistent effort and scoring production every game, particularly when the ACC schedule starts, it will give the Jackets a base that they haven’t had at any point in Gregory’s tenure.