While Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon’s decision to start junior guard/forward Dez Wells at point guard when the season began was made due in part to the fact that Wells was Maryland’s best playmaker, the decision may have done more harm than good in the early going.
For some point guards understanding the balance between setting up their teammates and scoring themselves can be difficult, much less a player who didn’t play the position in the season prior. That issue ultimately slowed down Wells, and ultimately the decision was made to start freshman Roddy Peters at the position ahead of their game at Boston College on Thursday night. And the move paid off for the Terrapins, as Wells scored 22 of his career-high 33 points in the second half of Maryland’s 88-80 victory.
Wells was near unstoppable in the game’s final seven minutes, scoring 18 points and personally outscoring Boston College 18-16 during that stretch. Boston College tried both Joe Rahon and Garland Owens on Wells, but to no avail. However regardless of BC’s defensive issues or their lack of a player capable of containing Wells, it became even more apparent that an aggressive Wells results in a more productive Maryland.
Wells’ offensive rating of 141.7 was his best of the season to date, and his free throw rate against Boston College (61.1) was as high as it has been since the season opener against UConn. As a team the Terrapins, who had four other players score at least nine points, scored a season-high 1.33 points per possession and shot 55.2% from the field. Having a player like Wells in attack mode can open up things for the other players on the floor, and that was especially evident in the second half.
While it would be a bit unreasonable to expect Wells to score 30 points or more every night, it isn’t unreasonable to expect him to be the player who serves as the catalyst for the Terrapins on the offensive end. With one conference win under their belts, Maryland’s going to need that kind of aggression from Wells night in and night out when ACC play resumes in January.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.