COLLEGE PARK — Historically, Mark Turgeon's teams usually have had a couple go-to guys, players who because of talent or toughness or some intangible trait could lead a struggling group out of a slump.
It happened at Wichita State, with center Paul Miller and forward P.J. Cousinard. It happened at Texas A&M, first with guard Donald Sloan and later with forward Khris Middleton.
It even happened at Maryland in Turgeon's two first seasons, though many wondered whether guard Terrell Stoglin shot too much and why center Alex Len wasn't as dominant as he perhaps could have been.
Going into Wednesday's game against Notre Dame (10-6, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) at Comcast Center, the question remains: Who will lead Maryland (10-7, 2-2) past its two straight road blowouts?
There are two obvious candidates in junior guard Dez Wells and sophomore forward Jake Layman. Though both have taken over games this season, they also have disappeared for long stretches.
Another possibility, sophomore guard Seth Allen, is still trying to work his way back into shape after missing the first 12 games of the season with a broken foot.
Wells and Layman both scored in double figures in Sunday's 85-61 demolition at Florida State — Wells led the Terps with 15 points, while Layman scored all of his 11 in the second half, after Maryland had fallen behind by 20 at halftime — but neither was much of a factor.
"We've got to run our system better," Turgeon said after practice Tuesday. "We can't have Roddy [Peters] have six shots and Dez have [four] and Jake have [eight] and Nick [Faust] have [seven]. We've got to run our system better. If we run our system better, the right guys will get the shots."
Helped by a number of factors — a lack of ball movement, Maryland players not moving without the ball, poor ball screens and timid drives to the basket — defenses have been able to stop Wells, by clogging the lane, and Layman, by cheating toward him on the wing.
After taking at least 10 shots and scoring in double figures in nine straight games, and averaging nearly 13 shots and more than 17 points in that stretch, Wells has averaged a little over six shots and 10 points over the past four.
"You've just got to move on. That's life. You're not going to play good every night, you're not going to be the team we are when we play great. We're not going to be that team," Wells, who leads Maryland with 14.4 points a game, said in Tallahassee, Fla., after Maryland's most lopsided loss of the season.
After scoring in double figures in 11 of Maryland's first 13 games, at one point averaging close to 16 points a game, Layman has scored in double figures only once in the past four games and is shooting 29.4 percent (10-for-34) over his past five.
"I think I have to work harder to get open and get better looks for me and just be more aggressive, like I tried to be in the second half at Florida State — getting to the hoop, getting fouled, stuff like that," Layman said Tuesday.
Turgeon, who now has lost back-to-back games by 20 points or more for the first time in his career, said it comes down to point guards Roddy Peters and Allen running Maryland's system better than they have so far this season when it comes to finding Layman in particular and open shooters in general.
"A lot of times, to be honest, within our plays, guys just flat-out miss" Layman looking to shoot, Turgeon said. "With that said, everyone's really aware of him [defensively], so if you miss him, when you finally get that chance, it's a problem."
Asked whether he considers himself one of the team's go-to guys, Layman said: "Not the No. 1 go-to guy, but I think I have to contribute a lot more than I am on the offensive end."
Layman said the Terps have enough players capable of filling that role, depending on the matchup in a particular game.
"It depends on the matchup, who's feeling it that night, because we have a lot of scorers," said Layman, whose scoring average has dipped to 12.9 points a game with his recent drought. "There's not one guy we're really looking at as our No. 1 guy."
Junior forward Evan Smotrycz played that role earlier in the season, scoring in double figures in eight of the team's first nine games, including a season-high 20 against Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the Paradise Jam. He has been in double figures only four times since.
"I think it's good to have depth, good to be able to have a bunch of guys who can score. I don't care if it's one guy every night," Smotrycz said. "Personally, I think I need to be more consistent making other guys better. I think I've been shooting a little quick and feel like I should make some plays for other guys."
Junior guard Nick Faust (City), who has scored in double figures six times in the nine games since being moved out of the starting lineup, said: "I think we're fine spreading it around the way it is. I feel as if whoever is hot that night should get the ball. I feel we're doing a great job of that. We've got to find guys like Jake more shots and get him open."
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