Welcome back to Morning Shootaround, which will be 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 night’s game and what the Terps will be working on at practice looking ahead to their next game.
Final score: Maryland 91, LIU Brooklyn 74 @Comcast Center
* Finally, this is what Dez Wells looks like. The player who seemed to grow in stature as his case with the NCAA lagged on this fall arrived Friday night at Comcast Center. I asked him which part was the most fun after his 15-point, 8-rebound, 5-assist, 3-block and 2-steal game. I limited it to dunks and blocks – he had a couple each that were ESPN worthy.
“Actually, I like the assists more,” he said.
Not only did Wells talk with Turgeon before the game, he also talked with his mother down in North Carolina.
“She got on me about having three rebounds a game. She’s played basketball. She told me if I had anything less than five rebounds a game I can’t come home for Christmas,” Wells said.
Wells said this is the deepest, most talented team he’s played on, which bodes well considering that Xavier won 23 games and went to the Sweet 16 last year with Wells as a 10-point-per-game freshman.
“What do we have, like two people at every position,” said Wells, who played a team-high 33 minutes Friday. “It’s great. I’ve never been on a team with this much depth and as talented at each backup and bench player. It’s awesome, just knowing that you can sit down on the bench and not worry about coming back in in five seconds. Coach lets you go in and make a mistake, that’s a part of growth. I love these guys and going to practice with them.”
* Forget the discussion about Maryland’s point guard. Pe’Shon Howard had 13 assists – two shy of the school record shared by Greivis Vasquez and Terrell Stokes – and only turnover against a fairly pesky bunch of Blackbirds. That he had seven points (taking only two shots) and seven rebounds is the kind of line Turgeon will be more than happy to take.
It seems to me that the combination of Howard’s suddenly steady play, Seth Allen’s outside shooting and Nick Faust’s early season struggles will keep the junior from Los Angeles at the point for the foreseeable future. I remember hearing early in the preseason that the Terps would use Allen with Wells, but now I can see Turgeon going to a three-guard set (four if Faust plays at forward as he did in the last few minutes when Maryland broke open the game).
Asked what his favorite pass was against LIU, Howard said, “All of 'em, whenever my teammates scored.”
Howard had a beautiful lob to freshman Jake Layman for an alley-oop and nearly had another one later on to Wells, who missed but was able to get the rebound and find Alex Len for a dunk. Len had a quiet 18 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in a performance that was overshadowed by Wells and Allen.
* As I sat at a quiet Comcast Center long after the game, Faust was out working with one of the team managers on his shot. The sophomore from Baltimore (City) spent all summer working on it, but it’s not just the mechanics that are off, it seems to be Faust’s head. He shot 2-of-8 Friday night and has made just 10-of-29 field goals for the season. Many of his shots are rushed, off balanced and wild.
Turgeon made his point to Faust at the beginning of the second half, benching him in favor of Layman. But Turgeon also made the point after the game that Faust played 23 minutes – “It wasn’t like he played two,” the coach said – and Faust was on the floor when Maryland broke open the game with a impromptu small lineup that was put together to defend a team without a player over 6-foot-8.
I asked Turgeon how concerned he was about Faust being out of control.
“That was the reason he didn’t start the second half, he’s got to learn,” Turgeon said. “I don’t want the same Nick that I had last year. I want Nick to get better. He’s got to let it come. He likes to score, he’s got to do what’s best for the team. Hopefully he’ll do that as we move forward, but we’ve got enough people to overcome it.”
Is Faust pressing?
“I think he was allowed to play that way last year. He’s not allowed to play that way this year, and he’s got to get it out of his system. We need Nick. I just need him to play smarter offensively and better defensively. It’ll come. I’m not worried about Nick. Nick’s a great kid from a great family, but he is pressing.”
In the bonus
The odd man out in the way Turgeon seems to be subbing is transfer Logan Aronhalt. The transfer from Albany, a fifth-year senior, played only five minutes Friday night. He did hit a 3-pointer from the left wing – about the same spot he was in last Friday when Howard took the shot against Kentucky – but he didn’t seem to do much else.
I think Aronhalt’s role, and minutes, will be taken by Allen if the freshman guard continues to shoot this well. He was 7-of-10 overall, 5-of 6 on 3-pointers, after shooting 5-of-15 (2-of-8 on 3’s) in the first two games. Turgeon said he didn’t know Allen could shoot it that well – and he certainly won’t every night.
The Terps play again Tuesday night against Lafayette in the final leg of the Barclays Classic. The Patriot League team was crushed Friday night at Kentucky, 101-49. This could be the least competitive of the three teams Maryland will have played after losing to the defending national champions in Brooklyn.
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