How can Maryland most effectively use Dez Wells?

How can Maryland most effectively use Dez Wells?
November 11, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Turgeon, Wells on final seconds of game vs. UConn

In your college days, less organized and more cluttered, you likely didn’t use everything for its intended purpose. Your buddy slept on the couch. Your sink was a storage compartment. Your stove was an extension of your countertop.

But once you cleaned it up, shifted some things around, used cabinets as cabinets and a couch as a couch, you’d find things worked more efficiently. Everything was in its right place.

Taking a look at Maryland’s starting five after its loss to Connecticut on Friday, there is some rearranging that could be done in the Terrapins’ house, so to speak.

Dez Wells, following the injury to starting point guard Seth Allen, has been shifted to the lead guard spot and was up-and-down in the team’s loss to UConn, finishing with 13 points on 3-of-10 shooting while adding six assists and six turnovers.

The problem isn’t that Wells is the point guard. The problem is that Wells isn’t the shooting guard. In the same way that it’s not a problem that the stove is a countertop, the problem is that it’s also not a stove anymore.

Wells has shown in the past that he works best when playing off the ball, taking passes off screens for shots or creating space when getting into the lane. With the ball in his hands to begin every possession, that possibility is negated by default.

It’s part of the reason that junior Nick Faust took 18 shots from the shooting guard position. Wells is the best scoring option on the floor when it comes to what he does regularly at the two-guard--attacking the rim. Maryland would likely rather see Wells take 18 shots than Faust.

So freeing him up to do that, taking him off the ball, might be Maryland’s best option.

Head coach Mark Turgeon admitted in the preseason that freshman point guard Roddy Peters would have to “play through mistakes” this season due to Maryland’s lack of depth in the backcourt. There were periods of shakiness--including three turnovers to just two assists--but if Turgeon wants to hold true to that, the possibility is there.

Peters is best in transition, as he showed in flashes on Friday, being able to find players in a position to score when the court is scattered. The speed of the college game still causes him trouble in the half-court, but Maryland played up-tempo for the most part on Friday anyway.

So why not let him play through those mistakes? Wells finished with a one-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio. If there is a commitment to an up-tempo pace, could Peters not achieve at least that one-to-one mark?

I’m no economist, but there’s one term I can recall: Cost-benefit analysis. Maryland loses more net production by not having Wells at shooting guard than it gains by slotting him in as the lead guard over Peters or even Faust.

What Wells can bring as a creator and facilitator off the ball by freeing up space for shooters like Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman outweighs the need to have the ball in his hands at all times, it appears.

Dez Wells is the stove. And it’s just a matter of time before things start to heat up. Watch highlights of Well's 30-point performance against Duke in the ACC tournament for evidence of that.

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