COLLEGE PARK — Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he received a number of text messages after Friday’s season-opening 78-77 loss to then-No. 18 Connecticut from friends in the business who didn’t recognize the Terps, at least when it came to their rebounding.
Despite a height advantage at nearly every position, Maryland was outrebounded, 36-33. It was a disappointing and important aspect of the defeat, especially when you consider that the Terps were one of the best team in the country last year in rebounding margin, and that the Huskies were among the worst.
“It was us,” Turgeon said before practice Tuesday at Comcast Center. Connecticut "made an emphasis all week about how bad their rebounding was last year, and I thought ours was pretty good. Obviously I was fooled. I’m getting texts from people around the country [saying], ‘Coach, I’ve never seen your team not rebound.’ We’ve done a lot of rebounding drills since Friday night.”
Asked whether there was any reason in particular for the rebounding woes, Turgeon was typically blunt.
“It was just laziness, and not doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “If they want to be great, they’ll start doing those things. If they want to be mediocre, we’ll play like we did Friday night.”
Maryland plays again Wednesday nigh, in its home opener against Abilene Christian (0-2) at Comcast Center.
Among some of the changes you might see:
A little less time for junior Dez Wells at point guard. Wells finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but he also had six of Maryland’s 13 turnovers in his first game replacing an injured Seth Allen (broken foot).
“He’s adjusted to everybody, but now people have to adjust to him a little bit more,” Turgeon said of Wells. “That will help moving forward. It’s a lot on his plate. [Director of basketball operations Dustin] Clark made a good point. Not only did we lose Seth, but we lost half of Dez.
“He was playing at a really high level at the 2 and the 3. I’ve got to figure out a way to get guys in their natural positions, where they’re comfortable and doing what’s best for our team.”
If Wells goes to the wing, it likely will mean more minutes at the point for freshman Roddy Peters. Considered one the top point guards in the country coming out of Suitland High, Peters scored five points (on 2-for-2 shooting), two assists, two steals and three turnovers in 18 minutes.
“He did a lot of good things. Defensively is where he hurt us the most,” Turgeon said. “We just keep working with him. I was really proud of Roddy. He showed some really good point guard skills, had a really good pace to him. I thought Dez played in fifth gear too much. I thought Roddy changed up his pace.”
The Terps could at times field a lineup with Peters at the point, Wells and either Jake Layman or Nick Faust on the wing, Evan Smotrycz and either Charles Mitchell or Shaquille Cleare inside. Faust struggled with his shot Friday (5-for-18 overall, including 3-for-10 on 3-point shots, for a team-high 17 points) while Cleare simply struggled with everything but his ball screen defense in the second half.
“I’m going to coach my team like I have since halftime of the Connecticut game, which is figuring out a way that’s best for this team, whoever we’re playing,” Turgeon said. “Going forward, I’ve got to figure out what’s best for this team until we get Seth back. With five months left in the season, I’ve got a lot time to make us better.”
Turgeon said Wells, who was named Tuesday to an early-season John Wooden Award watch list, will continue to play primarily point guard, but that he has to cut down on his turnovers.
“Obviously, Dez has to work on his decision-making,” he said.
Turgeon said he is considering tweaking his starting lineup against Abilene Christian, with the possibility of moving sophomore Charles Mitchell ahead of fellow sophomore Shaquille Cleare. Mitchell had 12 minutes in 20 minutes off the bench, while Cleare had four points in 19 minutes.
“I don’t think Charles cares as long as he plays,” Turgeon said. “He just wants to win. They’re both going to play a lot. I’ve got to build depths. It’s not really about those two guys, I’ve got to build depth at every positon.”
Turgeon is correct in that Mitchell doesn’t care whether he starts.
“I’m not the type of kid who cares about his name being called before the game [in the starting lineups]. That’s all it is,” Mitchell said. “I’m not getting upset because my mom’s not happy that my name is being called before the game.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun