You could just tell immediately that Dez Wells was ready to play at Northwestern on Tuesday night.
The Maryland sophomore guard had a certain confidence, an energy. He converted the Terps' first field goal on a feed from Alex Len. Then he hit the team’s second shot as well in Maryland's 77-57 win.
Later, Wells was heckled by some fans behind the basket. If anything, he only played with more energy after that. This is clearly a player who is going to enjoy playing in ACC road venues.
Some spectators behind one of the baskets chanted “No means no,” a reference to an old sexual assault allegation that a prosecutor said was unproven.
Wells seemed to be able to feed off the taunts without losing his focus. That’s no easy task.
His performance reminded me of some of former Terp Greivis Vasquez’s efforts. Fans on the road used to yell all sorts of things about Greivis. “Vasquez, where is your green card?” is one fan’s taunt that I remember -– and perhaps Vasquez, now in the NBA, does as well.
“You have to have tougher skin if you’re going to play this game,” Wells said Tuesday night. “Imagine how it’s going to be at Duke and Carolina. This is probably light compared to Duke and Carolina.”
I noted in my game story that Wells had additional motivation. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Wells was upset with his play Saturday against Georgia Southern, when he shot 3-for-7 and had five turnovers. “As bad as he’s maybe ever played in a game” was the way Turgeon described it.
Said Wells, whose 23 points against Northwestern was a career high: “I really felt like I let my team down the Georgia Southern game.”
Of course, Maryland’s effort Tuesday night was about much more than Wells.
“It was almost a perfect second half for us,” Turgeon said.
He was talking about:
* How the Terps did a better job establishing their inside post game. The Terps shot 20 for 30 after halftime.
* How Maryland responded when Northwestern went into its zone defense. Logan Aronhalt was the zone buster. He didn’t attempt a shot in the first half. But he converted three of his five 3-point attempts in the second half.
* How the Terps held Northwestern to 34 percent shooting, including just 6-for-25 on 3s. “Our defense was pretty phenomenal,” Turgeon said.
Said Turgeon of his halftime adjustments: “I’d like to say it was a great speech, but I think it was just a few things we did.”