BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – There is nothing sweeter than revenge, especially on the biggest stage.
While many college basketball fans watched Alabama and Maryland battle it out for a spot in the Sweet 16, Charles Bediako had his own personal game against Maryland’s Julian Reese. With Bediako representing IMG Academy and Reese representing St. Frances Academy, the now Maryland forward played one of his better games against the Canadian in 2020.
Three years later, Bediako got the better of Reese as the Crimson Tide punched its ticket to the Sweet 16 thanks to a 73-51 victory over the Terapins.
“That was kind of a personal game for me,” said Bediako. “I played him in high school and his team got the best of my team. I played well, but they won. … I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure we lost by 11, so when I saw him today I said, ‘Okay, it’s a bit of a revenge game.’ I was happy that we came out positive.”
The jovial Bediako was a bit more serious than usual before the game and that pent-up aggression reached a new high when Reese opened the scoring 40 seconds into the game.
“I saw it in his eyes, it was like ‘No, that’s never going to happen again,'” said Nimari Burnett. “That’s the kind of mindset that Charles can get into. He can literally shut out the opponent. It’s exciting to see him become the anchor of our defense throughout the season, especially at this time of year.”
Reese and Bediako clashed throughout the night with the two talking a bit of nonsense to each other after battling for rebounds. The estuary run climaxed when the 7-footer did his best Dennis Rodman impression, tipping the ball twice in the air before finally snatching it away from Reese, leading to an offensive foul.
Bediako held up four fingers and counted how many fouls the Maryland forward had committed in the game to an eye roll and Resse pleaded his case with the umpire.
The idea of Bediako’s trash-talk brought a smile to Burnett’s face, who received a few gags from the center during practice.
“He says little things that if you don’t hear it, it’s on you, but that’s how he feels,” Burnett said. “Whether they hear it or not, whether we hear it or not, you can see it on his face when he gets those stops.”
While Bediako showed much of his mean streak and held Reese to 14 points and two rebounds, it was a bit of a process for him to accept the mantra as Alabama’s edge protector. His friendly gargantuan demeanor off the field doesn’t go along with the edge protector growl, but Jahvon Quinerly is one of the teammates who constantly pushes him to be a little meaner on the floor.
“I like the type of person he is, but there are times when I say to him, ‘Bro, you’re too nice. You have to be mean sometimes,'” Quinerly said. “I’m just really happy for him. I’ve really seen him grow and he’s been great to us.”
Bediako’s snarl became the nudge Alabama needed to take down a physical Maryland team. After recording his third double-double of the season, Alabama head coach Nate Oats hopes he brings his “Angry Chuck” persona with him when the team heads to Louisville.
“He’s very gentle,” Oats said. “But the whole angry Chuck deal is very true. He has a side of him that comes out when we need it to come out. Part of his offensive rebound is that he plays aggressively and hard. Punish the switches. He puts them on the guards. He also gets them on the big ones.