Dez Wells looks down the court during Maryland's 79-50… (USA TODAY Sports )
Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, a regular feature this season the day after Maryland basketball games. While we can’t bring you into the Terps’ locker room after games – reporters haven’t been allowed in there since the last couple of years under Gary Williams – we will recap what was said in the press conference afterward by Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his players. We will give some of our own insight into what transpired on the court during the previous day’s game and what the Terps will be working on at practice looking ahead to their next game.
Maryland 79, Delaware State 50, Saturday at Comcast Center
If Mark Turgeon has shown anything in a little over a season in College Park, it is that he is tough to please. He is an old-school perfectionist, just like mentor Larry Brown, who always talks about playing “the right way.” But he is a little more flexible than Brown in that he also lets a new generation -- a generation removed from his own -- play their way as well.
It is why you can see this season’s Maryland team starting to come together.
There is a nice mix of more fundamentally-sound players such as Alex Len, Logan Aronhalt and James Padgett with new-age ballers like Nick Faust, Charles Mitchell, Seth Allen and Pe’Shon Howard – as well as those like Dez Wells, Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman who seem to operate in either world depending on the possession.
Maryland’s most recent performance Saturday was one of its best of what is now an 11-1 season. It was a clear example of playing smart, efficient basketball against the slow-it-down zone defense Delaware State used the entire game. The Terps took care of the ball (11 turnovers), pounded it inside most of the game and came away with their 11th straight win.
And Turgeon was obviously pleased, as happy as he has seemed all season, maybe since he came to Maryland.
“I thought we played really well. We shared the ball well, we executed well, the only thing we didn’t do well was rebound (a 36-30 edge), which was a little disappointing,” Turgeon said in starting off his post-game news conference. “Our freshmen were great, our bench was great. Guys have been practicing well and it showed.”
Start the presses
Maryland changed up some things defensively against Delaware State because of the way the third MEAC team the Terps have played this season was trying to slow down the game. Turgeon went to a zone for a handful of possessions in the first half and did a lot of pressing in order to speed up the game and turn over Delaware State.
“It was so boring,” Turgeon said of his opponent’s style.
Turgeon certainly expected Delaware State coach Greg Jackson to play the way he did. It worked for awhile, as the Hornets hit enough shots to start the game and the Terps were a little too sloppy that the score stayed close for the first 10 minutes. The Terps went on a 17-2 run and wound up leading at halftime by 18, 40-22.
“He’s got to play that way. They’ve got to play so many of these games. He’s just trying to do what’s best for his program,” Turgeon said of Jackson. “We don’t practice a lot of pressing after makes, [but] we did a pretty good job with it. By us not pressing at the start, I thought we got a couple of easy baskets. We just tried to up the tempo.”
While the Terps were successful in doing it, I thought it raised some questions about using both tactics during the ACC season with the same element of surprise. Maryland has ranked near the bottom of Division I in steals since Turgeon took over for Gary Williams, in large part because he didn’t have the horses at the back end to defend the basket should the opposing team break the press.
But with Len, Mitchell and Cleare, and even the blue-collar Padgett, it might be something for Turgeon to integrate more into the game plan in the week left before the ACC schedule begins. I think he has enough athletes with length, athleticism and quick hands – Wells, in particular, has really quick hands – that pressing could help the Terps, especially when they have trouble shooting.
Dez used to be a Duke fan
With a lot of talk starting to focus on ACC play, I asked Wells about how big a deal it is for him to be playing in a conference he grew up watching in Raleigh, N.C., after playing his freshman year in the Atlantic 10 at Xavier.
Wells is not exactly the sentimental type.
“It’s going to be different, because the A-10 is a lot more physical than the ACC is, but you approach every game the same way, regardless of who you’re playing or how you’re playing in recent memory ” said Wells, whose physical style should make him difficult to guard.