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Defensively, freshman guard Dion Wiley taking on all challenges for Terps

Terps freshman guard Dion Wiley.
Terps freshman guard Dion Wiley. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

COLLEGE PARK — One of the first things that Dion Wiley did to impress his new teammates at Maryland was hit 38 of 51 3-point shots during a late-night session with a ball machine this past summer.

One of the next things that Wiley did was ask Maryland coach Mark Turgeon if he could guard Dez Wells when preseason practice began in late September.

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Wiley's progress on the defensive side of the court might be even more impressive than what the 6-foot-4 shooting guard, a big-time scorer since his sophomore year at Potomac High in Oxon Hill, has done offensively.

While Turgeon said after Monday's 93-57 win over Central Connecticut State that Wiley's 10 points didn't surprise him -- "We knew he was good with the ball in his hands, we knew he could play" -- Wiley's defense has been a revelation.

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"The one thing that does surprise me is how he's taken on a challenge defensively," Turgeon said. "He guards Dez every day, doesn't back down to him. Today he wanted to guard [Central Connecticut State's Matt] Mobley. That's good to see."

The loss of more than 25 pounds and better all-around conditioning has transformed Wiley into a better player than many expected. Not known to play particularly hard for long stretches -- and any defense -- Wiley has done both so far this season.

Asked if he has tried to prove he is more than just a long-range shooter, Wiley said: "I didn't feel like I had to prove it, but I didn't like being called just a shooter. I just took it personally and worked on my defense."

Wiley admits that guarding Wells, even in practice, isn't easy.

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"A couple of times, he'll make me look bad," Wiley said with a smile. "Coach Turgeon would say, 'Are you competing?' I think I'm competing my hardest, but he's just a good scorer. Some days I get the best of him."

Wells said he took Wiley and the other freshmen "under my wing" as soon as they arrived for summer workouts in early June.

"When we're practicing and we're competing, I just tell everybody, 'Don't hold back, there are no friends when you're playing against somebody," Wells said. "Nobody should ever have to coach your motor."

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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