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Terps' Berend Weijs hopes to have bigger role — and body — this season

By the time Berend Weijs was done last March with a frustrating junior season at Maryland, he knew something had to change before he took the court this season for new coach Mark Turgeon.

At 6 feet 10 and 200 pounds last season, Weijs was the kind of skinny dude that gets knocked around and beat up in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He simply didn't have the girth to hang in the low post.

He spent the offseason getting cozy with a few of his favorite fatty, high-calorie munchies — and still managed to put on just 10 pounds of muscle. Now, Weijs has taken eating to another level.

If he's awake, he's supposed to be chomping on something. It's almost a full-time job.

"I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want to, and it just digests before it's even in my stomach," said Weijs, a native of Amsterdam.

"It's very hard, but I've been working with a dietician. She's put me on a lot of things that have a lot of calories — like small amounts [of food] that have a lot of calories. I've just got to keep doing it. I can't slack off."

After transferring from Harcum College, a junior college in Bryn Mawr, Pa. where he averaged 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in the 2009-10 season, Weijs had visions of making a significant contribution last season for the Terrapins.

It never happened.

Weijs played in each of Maryland's first 16 contests, but never more than 13 minutes in a game. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds for the season, and played a total of just 23 minutes in the final 17 games.

"I don't really know what happened," Weijs said. "Jordan Williams was playing great — double-doubles every game, and I think [former coach] Gary [Williams] had more trust in him than he had in me. … I don't really know what happened, or what went on in coach's mind. I didn't get worse. I didn't get hurt."

Turgeon envisions a bigger role for Weijs, but it'll be a role dependent upon finding specific spots for him. He shot 59 percent from the floor last season (20 of 34), but didn't attempt a 3-pointer. Turgeon believes Weijs, who also had 19 blocks last season, will get his long-range looks this season.

"We're not going to [go into] the guts of a game and try to post Berend up real deep," Turgeon said. "That's not going to happen, but he can get out on the break, and he can make plays on the break. Berend being a foreign kid really likes to shoot it. … He can really step out and shoot the ball. I think as the year goes on, you'll see me allowing Berend to shoot 3s."

In between gobbling mouthfuls of trail mix, granola bars and energy bars, Weijs said he spent much of his offseason working on his footwork. If he can't out-muscle opposing big guys, he plans to out-quick them.

"With good footwork, I can go around the bigger guys," Weijs said. "Just playing smarter is going to be very important."

nwood@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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