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November 13, 2013

Turgeon Rethinks Offense

Mark Turgeon saw what you saw on Friday night.

His offense, led by Dez Wells at the point, looked unorganized in the team's loss to Connecticut. His players looked out of position, because well, they were. Wells isn't a point guard, and Turgeon knows it, just like anyone who was watching knows it. He just hasn't figured out how to fix it yet. But he is trying.

"I've got to figure out a way to get guys into their natural positions, where they're comfortable and what is best for our team," Turgeon said on Tuesday.

To many, the easy solution is to insert freshman Roddy Peters into the spot vacated by the injured Seth Allen. Peters is a four-star recruit, ranked in the top 50 of a group being compared to the all-time great freshman classes. But, Turgeon admonishes, Peters doesn't come without risk.

"[Peters] did a lot of really good things," the coach said. "Defensively is where he hurt us the most. We just keep working with him. He knows that. There were four possessions in the second half where he could have done better."

Peters played 18 minutes on Friday night and the Terps were plus three with him on the court. In the second half, when Peters had his alleged defensive lapse, that number rose to plus six. The freshman finished the night with five points, three turnovers, two assists and three fouls.

Maryland hosts an Abilene Christian team tonight that has lost their first two games by a combined 47 points. If all goes according to plan, the Terps should roll in their home opener, presenting an opportunity for Turgeon to experiment. While he again on Tuesday confirmed that Wells would start at point guard against the Wildcats, the third-year coach seemed infinitely more amicable to tinkering with his lineup.

"I'm going to coach my team like I have since halftime of the Connecticut game," Turgeon said. "That is figuring out a way that is best for this team. No matter who we're playing or where we're playing - I've got to figure out what is best for this team until Seth is back."

This is good news for the Maryland fans that spent Friday night screaming at their television. Yes, the Terps have a problem. But their coach is on the job, and there was evidence of it as Maryland stormed back on the Huskies.

Turgeon plugged in Charles Mitchell for an ineffective Shaquille Cleare to open the second half. Wells played the majority of his 18 minutes in the second half. Even Nick Faust got involved at the point when UConn's press was in full force. In short, Turgeon observed what was happening on the floor and reacted accordingly, something he plans to do more going forward.

Mitchell was instrumental in bringing the Terps back in Brooklyn. He had 12 points in 20 minutes and had a pair of and-ones in the second half that swung momentum Maryland's way. Turgeon hasn't decided if he will reward Mitchell's efforts with a start on Wednesday, which seemed to sit fine with the 6-foot-8 sophomore.

"Me and Shaq don't focus on who is going to start or who is going to play," Mitchell said. "Just when we both get into the game, we're going to play our hardest and play to the best of our ability. We don't worry about our name being called before the game. We worry about winning the game."

In the backcourt, Turgeon has to take pressure off his best player. Wells settled down after four early turnovers and finished the night with 13 points -- right on his average from last season -- but he struggled to get there. The junior shot 3-of-10 from the field, with the final two misses coming with the Terps down in the final minute.

"[Wells has] a lot on his plate," Turgeon said, also acknowledging he has to, at times, move his star player off the ball. Yesterday, Wells was named to the Wooden Award preseason top 50 list.

"Not only did we lose Seth, but we lost half of Dez moving him to point. Dez was playing at a really high level at the two and the three."

You don't often hear that type of candor from a coach like Turgeon. If he's right, expectations surrounding Wells' scoring output must be tempered in the short-term. And other Terps must step up.


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