After sitting out against UCLA, Mychal Mulder came in with a chip on his shoulder against Valparaiso, and capitalized.
Some have blamed it on defensive struggles, others believe it may have been due to lack of ball-handling or passing ability against the Bruins’ elite backcourt. Regardless, Mulder never entered the game against UCLA, and the fans were heated.
Judging by a deleted tweet immediately following the game, Mulder wasn’t a happy camper either.
Nonetheless, Coach Cal gave him another shot against Valparaiso, and the Windsor, Canada native proved he belonged on the court.
In his post-game presser, Calipari said he knew going into the game that he’d be giving Mulder minutes, and was happy with the results.
“Mychal was good,” Calipari said. “What I want to do is have he and Isaiah on the court together because Isaiah makes Mychal comfortable. And Isaiah figures out ways of getting him shots he can make. And Isaiah will talk to him through defense and help him, and he just makes him more comfortable on the court.”
Mulder finished the game with nine points and seven rebounds, just one shy of his career high on the glass. He had confidence and made plays both with and without the ball, providing a massive spark off the bench.
“I go into every game motivated, regardless of the game,” Mulder said. “I was motivated in practice and kept working hard so I didn’t let (the UCLA game) bother me at all. I was ready for my opportunity and when that came today, I tried to make the most of it.”
Dominique Hawkins believes Mulder has come a long way from last year, and thinks he has earned the right to be on the court. “He’s knocking down shots, and I think he’s able to come in and bring energy on defense.”
After the game, I spoke with Mulder’s father, who was visibly relieved following his son’s big game. “It’s about damn time,” he joked. “No, in all honesty he looked really comfortable out there, the team looked good. I enjoyed watching him play tonight.”