When Maryland takes the floor on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke for the final time in the regular season as members of the ACC, the Terrapins could very well have two players on the floor at the same time who share one unique characteristic, given the context and intensity of this rivalry.
Maryland juniors Dez Wells and Nick Faust grew up as fans of Duke basketball, the two admitted, if you will, on Friday afternoon.
Hailing from Raleigh, N.C., it’s understandable that Wells grew up watching the Blue Devils. Faust on the other hand, a native Baltimorean, wasn’t as geographically within range but followed the program equally as close.
“[Maryland] didn’t win too many times against Duke back when I was young,” Wells said with a laugh. “But the times that they did, me and my mom were pretty upset.
“It’s kind of funny to see how the tables have turned … Both two great programs and great coaches.”
The tables have turned since Wells watched the rivalry in his youth, yes. Wells is right. Things have changed.
Juan Dixon, once the object of scorn for Duke fans at Cameron, is now on Maryland’s bench as a special assistant. Former Maryland head coach Gary Williams is now predominately doing work with the media.
Steve Blake is still in the NBA, recently recording a triple-double for the Los Angeles Lakers in a win over Cleveland. Back then, now-head coach Mark Turgeon was at Wichita State.
When Faust was asked about his allegiance to Duke back in the day, his response was genuine.
“Did I grow up a [Maryland fan]?” Faust asked, repeating the question to a reporter with a bit of shock in his voice. “No, I actually grew up a Duke fan.”
And what does he remember?
“I just remember a lot of J.J. Redick and Jason Williams killing Maryland a lot.”
So that sets Saturday’s stage. Two former Cameron loyals in their youth now trying to get a win for Maryland as the book closes on a long-standing rivalry in North Carolina.
Tip is at 6 p.m.