Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
What are your thoughts on Maryland’s just-released basketball schedule?
Jeff Barker: A few thoughts:
- Weekly Maryland recruiting roundup
- Trayvon Reed, 7-foot-1 center from Georgia, commits to Terps
- Maryland's 2013-14 basketball schedule highlighted by quick turnarounds
- 2013-14 Terps basketball [Pictures]
- Analyzing Maryland's 2013-14 men's basketball season player by player
- Maryland-Duke memories
See more photos »
- Maryland Madness sights & sounds [Video]
- Video: Williams retires as Maryland basketball head coach
** True to his word, Mark Turgeon is slowly starting to elevate the nonconference schedule.
There’s a balance to be struck. You want to play some (but not too many) early home games that boost your victory total and your bottom line, and get you accustomed to playing together under game conditions. But you don’t want to over-schedule cupcakes that damage your at-large NCAA prospects down the road.
The home schedule includes Oregon State and Tulsa. The Terps play Connecticut in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ohio State on the road in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. They travel to the Virgin Islands for a preseason tournament and play George Washington at Verizon Center in Washington.
That’s an upgrade in my book from previous November-December matchups.
The same thing is going to happen with football, by the way. Those Terps-FCS games are going to go away.
** We’ve noted that there sure are some quick turnarounds -- a few periods in which the Terps play two games in three days (one at home and one on the road). Those can be draining, particularly at the end of a long season. Those periods cause some players to recall their AAU days when multiple games were played in a single day.
** No Duke, North Carolina or N.C. State at home? We knew about that already. No one was expecting the ACC to do the Terps any favors. I can't help but wonder what the atmosphere will be like -- nostalgic? -- at Maryland's last-ever ACC game at home against Virginia on a Sunday afternoon.
Will Dez Wells’ decision to sue Xavier for expelling him last summer impact the rest of his career at Maryland?
Don Markus: While most college students are not involved in lawsuits, Wells has already been through a great deal of turmoil throughout his first two seasons.
There was the suspension for his involvement in the brawl with crosstown rival Cincinnati his freshman year. There was the hearing with the Xavier student conduct board after he was accused of raping a female student. There was the subsequent expulsion despite the case being dropped by local prosecutors. There was the transfer to Maryland and waiting out the appeal to have the NCAA waive the one-year rule of sitting out in College Park.
Wells did a great job last season blocking out the taunts on the road, particularly at Northwestern and Duke where large sections of fans chanted “No means no…” He also seemed to move on from the whole affair and never brought it up to the media. Though his attorney said that Wells was deeply affected by the false accusations, you got a sense that Wells was able to put it behind him. Apparently he had not, according to the lawsuit.
When I talked with attorney Peter Ginsberg on Wednesday, I specifically asked him about how the ongoing lawsuit could impact Wells in terms of his performance and his relationship with his coaches and athletic director Kevin Anderson. From what I’ve been told, Maryland coaches and officials -- including university president Wallace Loh -- are not happy that Wells never told them that he was suing Xavier. Considering the chance Anderson took in taking Wells in last summer, I believe Wells owed him that.
With Wells unquestionably the team’s best player and one of its leaders this season, his relationship with Mark Turgeon is going to be important. You would have to think there’s some type of breach of trust now between the two, and the fact that neither Wells nor his mother informed the coach of the impending suit when the team was in the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago might indicate that the relationship is not as close as it was when Wells first arrived last summer.
Wells has proven to be both emotional and sensitive. He cried after making his Maryland debut against Kentucky last season. He was one of the team’s most effervescent players, but he could also mope when things weren’t going his way. That’s without the burden of a lawsuit being played out.
What happens if his threatened lawsuit results in a seven-figure settlement in midseason? It happened when Ginsberg represented former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin and teammate Erik Williams in the late 1990s when a local television station reported rape allegations that turned out to be false.
It’s one thing for a high-paid professional athlete to find out he is about to get a check for $1 million. Until he turns pro, I would think it would be hard to keep your focus -- either on basketball or academics -- if the same thing happens Wells.
Or what happens if the suit is eventually thrown out? It happened with another Ginsberg client, Jonathan Vilma, who had filed a defamation suit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after initially being suspended for the 2012 season for his role in Bountygate. Though Goodell’s ruling was overturned by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue in mediation, Vilma was still upset enough to file a defamation suit.