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November 3, 2013

Wells and Peters up-and-down in their debuts at point

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Two days after it was announced he would slide over to the point guard position, Dez Wells looked like a player trying to find his way on Sunday against an overmatched Catholic team. The Terps rolled, 84-39, but afterwards it was clear they have some work to do on the offensive end of the floor.

Wells took only four shots, making three and totaling seven points. He added four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 24 minutes on the court. Last year's leading scorer, Wells moved to point guard after sophomore Seth Allen broke his foot this week in practice.

"There is no question there is an adjustment," head coach Mark Turgeon when asked about his point guard. "Because he was playing at an unbelievably high level and then we moved him to the point after the Villanova scrimmage and it changed things for him."

Maryland turned the ball over four of the first six times they had it, including a careless giveaway by Wells on the Terps' first possession. After a 2012-13 season in which turnovers were their undoing, it was probably not the start Turgeon imagined.

Wells and the Maryland offense seemed to settle down after sophomore Jake Layman drilled three pointers on three consecutive possessions, putting the Terps up, 17-10, and essentially ending any chance of the Cardinal hanging around.

"It felt pretty good. I was a little tired at first, but once I got my second wind I was fine," Wells said.

The four shot attempts were the fewest from Wells since he transferred from Xavier before last season. He took five shots six times last year when he averaged 13.1 points per game as a sophomore. Wells pointed to the widening lead, which was 25 at halftime, as the primary reason he preferred to act as a distributor on Sunday.

"I can still have that scorer's mentality when we're not doing so well or when we need a basket," he said. "It's just me scoring from a different angle, or a different position on the court."

After picking up a second foul at the 8:35 mark of the first half, Wells was quickly pulled, turning the team over to freshman point guard Roddy Peters. In typical freshman fashion, Peters flashed some talent and some inconsistency, matching Wells' seven points on two-of-five shooting in 20 minutes.

Halfway through the first half Peters brilliantly executed a pick-and-roll with Charles Mitchell, sliding a bounce pass to the 6-foot-8 sophomore only to have him miss the layup. Several possessions later Peters blew by his man using a right-to-left crossover. He glided into the lane between defenders and flipped a layup off the glass on the other side for a pretty first bucket.

"The thing with Roddy is he tries to hit the home run all the time - he was able to do that in high school - and he gets too deep sometimes," Turgeon said. "He was better today than he was two weeks ago. He had a phenomenal week of practice so it showed."

Turgeon also praised his freshman's effort on the defensive end, where Peters apparently "doesn't like to play a lot." He indicated that Peters should typically see more time opposite Wells at the two than was allowed on Sunday.

The Terps scored 84 points against the Cardinal. They made nine threes and 19 free throws. It was hardly a performance that warranted sounding the alarms, particularly when you consider they were probably working on things in a game they knew they would win.

With that said, Turgeon did express concern over an offense that, at times, seemed stuck in neutral. But he did not waver on his faith in his team leader and best player.

"As we continue to add things to our offense, [Wells] will be in position to do more things. We need Dez to shoot more than four shots a game to be successful. He is trying to run the team. He has been an unbelievable leader and communicator for us."

Wells, Peters and their fellow Terps better get acclimated to their new lineup quickly. The Terps open their season on Friday night against No. 18 UConn at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Wells' counterpart in that game will be first-team All-Big East guard Shabazz Napier. If the point guard situation is going to be a problem for Maryland this year, we should find out pretty quickly, making Friday night sink or swim time for the Terps' duo.

"The thing we did the worst [tonight] was our offensive execution," Turgeon said. "It can be a lot better than it was and maybe that starts with those two."




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