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.
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?