Midnight Madness returns to Cole Field House
Maryland's backcourt was set: Seth Allen at point guard, Dez Wells at shooting guard, then shuffling in any combination of five or six quality frontcourt players to fill out the starting forward and center spots for Maryland.
But then injuries struck.
The news came Wednesday afternoon, Allen set to be out out 8-10 weeks after fracturing his foot during practice on Tuesday evening. He is scheduled to undergo surgery on Thursday, the program announced, which will likely have him back on the court some time between the Christmas holiday and the first week of the new year.
So what does Maryland do in the interim with its exhibition against Catholic on Sunday and its season opener against Connecticut in Brooklyn on the horizon?
The answer, in part, appears to be Dez Wells.
Originally slotted in at shooting guard and with freshman point guard Roddy Peters still developing his feel in the half-court, Wells will likely take the reins of the offense as the starter in Allen's absence.
We saw Wells as point guard at times last season and it was something of a mixed bag.
With his height at 6-5 and a solid 215 pounds, he is best at getting to the basket. That works well in two ways--either he can score the ball through contact when he gets there or he can find shooters on the perimeter when the defense collapses on him. Being that both Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz are proving to be legitimate options from three-point range, Maryland will be better than its 33.9 percent mark from that distance last season.
But then comes the issue. Wells averaged three assists and 2.8 turnovers per game last season, nearly a one-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. When the defense swarms en route to the rim, how much will he be able to limit turnovers and either score or pass it out to open shooters?
In preseason practices and scrimmages so far, there have been moments of both during the time he has experimented at the lead guard spot. But perhaps most importantly, head coach Mark Turgeon says, is his nature as a vocal on-court talent.
“I don’t know [how he has improved] as a player because we’re just getting started,” Turgeon said at the team’s media day. “But as a leader, it’s night and day.
“He’s really trying and he’s doing it in the right tone. Guys respect him. He’s done a nice job.”
Maryland will also work in Peters, who Turgeon has praised in the transition game. His impressive size and length at 6-4 allows him to see over the defense and find players in a position to score.
He looks much more comfortable on the break and finding space in the scattered court, especially off of rebounds and outlet passes from Maryland's bigs down low.
But in the half-court, working off of ball screens and setting up plays can still pose a challenge.
Maryland has one ACC game--Dec. 12 vs. Boston College--before Allen will likely return. The Terrapins open the heart of their ACC schedule on Jan. 4 vs. Georgia Tech.
But they'll face no shortage of solid point guards in that time. Nov. 8 is Ryan Boatright, Shabazz Napier and UConn. Dec. 4 is Aaron Craft and Ohio State. Dec. 12 is BC's Olivier Hanlan.
And it will be Wells' job to hold the fort.