Maryland sophomore Dez Wells has not been in a good mood for the past two weeks, ever since he left Florida State’s Michael Snaer alone in the corner for a wide-open 3-point shot to beat the Terps in Tallahassee Jan. 30.
Wells had left Snaer to help on Seminoles guard Ian Miller, who had beaten his man and Maryland center Alex Len for what appeared to be an uncontested layup to win the game. Afterwards, Wells said that he was illegal screened – replays did not support his argument.
The 19-point performance by Wells – one of the more electrifying since transferring from Xavier last summer for the 6-5 swingman – was negated by another tough road loss. While Maryland has won its last two games, including its first ACC road victory Thursday night at Virginia Tech, Wells has sulked.
As the Terps were celebrating a 26-point win over Wake Forest at Comcast Center three days after the Virginia Tech, Wells was sitting on the bench after being removed by Mark Turgeon, who was clearly not happy with the fact that Wells had taken – and missed – a showboating windmill dunk minutes before.
It didn't get any easier for Wells against the Hokies.
Turgeon admittedly came down a little hard on Wells at halftime Thursday night for his sloppy play in the first half, After helping the Terps hold on for a 55-50 victory with a big 3-pointer and a couple of hustle plays that led to victory, Wells nearly threw it away with an ill-advised pass in the backcourt.
Wells, who had impressed everyone with his attitude and leadership as well as his talent since coming to Maryland, was again not in a great mood afterward. But Turgeon said that Wells was thrust in a tough position given that he didn't know he would be eligible until right before the season opener after the school won his waiver hearing.
"It's really unfair. You come here in August and you don't know you're going to play until November, I told him that," Turgeon said. "I was jumping on him, I told him, 'It's not fair to you, you're kind of our emotional leader, when your chin is down, everyone's chin is down. I think he's handled it well, he handled it well in the second half."
But it is clear that Turgeon is looking for Wells to continue being Maryland's emotional leader – not to mention a key player on both ends of the court – for the Terps to have any chance of making a run toward their first NCAA tournament appearance in three years.
"He's got to step up and be a leader. James [Padgett] has to be a leader," Turgeon said.