Today's exhibition game against Catholic, when it was initially scheduled, should have been nothing more than a tune up before Maryland tipped off the regular season against UConn. But with the injury to Seth Allen last week, Sunday's scrimmage became an opportunity for Maryland to see how they'll handle the next eight to ten weeks with Dez Wells and freshman Roddy Peter running the point.
"I thought Roddy [Peters] was pretty good" head coach Mark Turgeon said after his team's 84-39 win over the Cardinals. "Where I was really proud of Roddy was on the defensive end because that's where he doesn't really like to play a lot and he really concentrated and took on a challenge. So that was better. He had a phenomenal week of practice and it showed."
When asked about Wells' play at the point guard position, Turgeon said "Dez Wells is trying to run the team. He's been and unbelievable leader and communicator for us. The thing I liked about today was our guys really cheered for each other. Guys were accepting roles."
Mark Turgeon also hinted that in future games, he'll likely have Dez in at the one and Roddy at the two, which we saw a few times on Sunday. But he also noted that the plan is to move Dez back over to the two, but will that happen before Seth Allen returns?
"I think in a normal game situation he'd be in there at the two, and Dez [Wells] would handle it" Turgeon said. "I thought Dez did well. He got in foul trouble. I'll play Dez with two as the season goes on. In the first half I didn't do it today."
Dez also admitted that he feels he has a lot he needs to improve on, but also knows he's physically able to play any position on the court. "Mentally I have to continue to watch film and study guys and see what they like to do and take bits and pieces from each and everybody's game that I watch when I watch film" Wells said.
When asked about the start of the game, if he was thinking rather than just playing, Wells admitted that was the case for him on Sunday. "I would say I was thinking too much when we first started out. But that goes along with the second wind. Once you get your second wind, get your team to settle down, and then the game starts to slow down for you. So that's just an adjustment I had to make."
Another note about Dez; he's a team player. When I asked him about what it's like having both Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman on the court at the same time, with their versatility, he's first response was "Regardless of what line we put on the court, our guys are going to be able to score the ball." He then continued, saying "We've worked really hard in the off-season; Jake has, Evan has. And it was really good to see Evan out there. He hasn't played in about 365 days, well, a little more than that, since he played his last official game. He was really aggressive, he was attacking the basket, rebounding. It was good to see him get his feet wet again."
Freshman Roddy Peters played 20 minutes on Sunday and had a good amount of time running the offense in the 1st half after Dez Wells picked up his second personal foul with just over eight minutes left before halftime. Turgeon mentioned that Peters had a great week in practice and continues to improve defensively, but needs to slow things down and not try to hit a homerun on every play. "Where I was really proud of Roddy was on the defensive end because that's where he doesn't really like to play a lot and he really concentrated and took on a challenge" Turgeon said. "So that was better. He had a phenomenal week of practice and it showed."
Smotrycz was one of the players who I was most impressed with yesterday. He showed a great ability and willingness to go inside and got to the line more than anyone on the team, hitting seven of his eight free throw attempts. He also lead the team in assists (4) and had seven rebounds and a block.
"Evan is a smart player, so he recognized that he had mismatches, so he was able to go inside a little bit more" Turgeon said when asked about being able to have both Smotrycz and Layman on the court at the same time. "It allows us to switch defensively, which confuses people. They're good players, they're smart players, and I'm just really pleased with the improvement across the board with our guys."
"Having both of us on the floor and having shooters in the corners creates opportunities for us and creates nightmares for other teams" sophomore Jake Layman said.
Layman, who lead all scorers with 23 points, continued to show why many people are mentioning him as a breakout star for this season. He scored 11 straight points during a two minute stretch in the 1st half that turned a two point Catholic lead into a seven point Maryland lead, sparking a 36-9 run for the Terps to close out the half.
Nick Faust also played well yesterday, taking open shots and doing a great job defensively while guarding Catholic's leading returning scorer from last season, Steve Limberiou, holding him to just seven points. "Nick [Faust] was a whole different kid when he shot open shots, he passed the ball to open guys and he just guarded his tail off" Turgeon said. "That's a sign of maturity with our team."
Turgeon had stated at the start of the season that he wanted Nick to guard the opposing team's best player, so it appears Nick is settling into that role nicely. He was also Maryland's second leading scorer yesterday, putting up 14 points while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out an assist and a block.
Some additional notes:
- Turgeon mentioned that he played a lot of players yesterday to try to keep the score down, as he had a lot of respect for Catholic's coach. He mentioned that during the regular season, while Allen is out, their rotation will likely be 7-8 players, with Dodd being the 8th and, if needed, Varun Ram would be the 9th.
- Shaq Cleare, who started at center, had a very quiet game in 20 minutes on the court, finishing with just two points and four rebounds.
- Charles Mitchell finished with a double-double and looked much more aggressive on offense, but had a little trouble finishing around the rim, scoring 10 points on 4/10 shooting while grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds.
- Damonte Dodd continues to progress. He made the most of his 11 minutes on the court, grabbing eight rebounds, blocking two shots, and scoring four points on 2/2 shooting. Turgeon said Dodd is light years ahead of where he was at the beginning of the summer.
- Varun Ram is a good player. If Maryland gets into foul trouble, especially during the non-conference portion of their schedule before Seth Allen returns, don't be surprised to see him getting a few minutes in key games to give Dez and Peters a breather.
- Seth Allen was in attendance, on the bench, with a cast and crutches.
- With Dalone Hill out, Scott Spinelli, Bino Ranson, and Dustin Clark were on the bench next to Turgeon on Sunday.
- Jon Graham, who still hasn't heard from the NCAA on his waiver request, was not dressed for the game, but sat at the end of Maryland's bench.
- 7,019 was the attendance Sunday, but it didn't seem like there were that many people in the building.