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Testudo Times staff roundtable - Basketball rollercoaster

The Testudo Times staff reflects on a rollercoaster week in Maryland basketball.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland played poorly for 77 minutes last week, but still went 1-1.  Are the Terps experiencing a mid-season slump, or something more worrisome?

Todd: I'm not sure it's either, but I'd be inclined to lean more toward the former. Beating Maryland right now is a quality win for anyone and for some (like Northwestern), it's a marquee win. I don't think that was the case at the beginning of the year and I think the team needs a few games to adjust to that.

Noah: I think it is something worrisome if it continues. This team did a great job getting back into and winning the game against Northwestern, but Maryland can't afford to play poorly for 35 minutes and win games against great teams.

Andrew K.: I'm going to answer this after the Ohio State game, as that will tell us a lot.

Jake: I think it's simply a case of a young team for the most part hitting a bit of a wall. For Melo, Nickens and really Dodd too, this is their first real go around. It's the first go around for Pack in a P5 conference. Something like this was going to happen eventually. The key is breaking through that wall before it's a full-blown slump.

David W.: I'll say it's a midseason slump. Maryland played 19 games of good defense this year. I'm willing to give the Terrapins the benefit of the doubt for 77 bad minutes - for now.

Dez Wells can at times make maddening mistakes, and at other times he excels as the hero.  What are your thoughts on Wells as a player and a leader?

Todd: I think Dez is unquestionably the emotional core and leader of this team and until someone proves otherwise, he's the guy who's consistently making big plays at the end of close games and the one I want controlling that situation. As a player, he's been a little maddening but I think in part this has to do with our expectations as fans and this season I think he's still suffering more from his wrist injury than we know. If memory serves, Dez made a driving layup down the right side early in the last three-minute run against Northwestern. I'm fairly certain he switched to his left hand. If I'm right, I think it says a lot.

Noah: Dez Wells is the beating heart of this basketball team. He is the vocal leader on the floor and the leader in the locker room. When he attacks the basket early and often, the Terps excel. When he doesn't they don't do as well. He is a great leader and he is a great player. Like Todd says, wrist injuries are tough to deal with and it is not like Dez is going to tell us just how much it affects him. The season could potentially swing on whether that wrist of his heals or not.

Andrew K.: Until the Northwestern game, Wells looked like a different player since he came back from his wrist injury. Gone was the physical player attempting to will his way towards baskets. The Wells we saw against the Wildcats was the Dez of old. He can be maddening at times, with turnovers as well as disappearing from the offense. But he's capable of infusing the team with a sense of energy and much needed points.

Jake: As the emotional and vocal leader...Dez is the guy. Without question. He's the senior presence, the role model, and much more. And his passion and commitment is up there with anyone. It's so easy to love Dez. I don't think he's fully recovered and I think that's hurt him. He seems out of control a lot more and his shot isn't the same.

David W.: Behind Melo Trimble, I still think he's the most important player on the team, and I'm a huge Jake Layman fan. I think back to a moment in the second half of the loss to Virginia: UMD was about to shoot two free throws coming out of a timeout with a chance to cut the Cavaliers' lead to single digits and Dez, in a shirt and tie, was in the middle of the huddle at the free throw line giving an impromptu speech to the five players on the floor. Leadership is more important in college sports than in the pros, and Dez is a consummate leader. And even when he's making boneheaded plays offensively, he tends to be steady on the defensive end.

The Terps got a huge commitment from Anthony Cowan earlier in the week.  Landing a talented point guard early in the cycle bodes well for the rest of the class.  What are your impressions of Mr. Cowan?

Todd: I'm happy to have the commitment and love that he passionately wants to be a Terp. I know nothing about him as a player beyond what TT has published.

Noah: Meh. He wasn't highly sought after by the best programs in the country. He was looking at Georgetown, Illinois, GW and FSU if memory serves. Mostly local schools and Georgetown is the only one that stands out. It's great for Maryland to get a local kid but I don't think it will influence the rest of the class unless he goes Stefon Diggs and actively tries to get other guys to stay home.

Andrew K.: I'm a little wary of projecting too much on a high school junior. But from all accounts, he sounds like the type of true point guard that can steer a team. He's also a potential great advocate for the DMV2UMD movement. But let's see how he performs this summer and next season before getting overly excited.

David W.: I won't act like I know much about him, but I've heard promising things from those that know him and his AAU program. Point guards can be hard to come by, so locking down one who has a potential to be a contributor post-Melo is important.

College football's signing period starts next week.  Maryland still has work left to do on the defensive line, and may still be in the conversation for Isaiah Prince.  Should Maryland fans be expecting fireworks on signing day?

Todd: Hoping, yep. Expecting, nope (or is that Knope?).

Noah: I think Maryland swings someone on signing day. This new stay home and represent Maryland movement might get to some of these kids.

Andrew K.: Maryland keeps trending up in the recruit rankings. There's a buzz that I think will spill over onto next week's signing period.

Jake: Hopefully. We'll see.

David W.: I think there's a chance Kai Locksley or Isaiah Prince could flip, but 2016 will be the big year.