Perfect Dez Saves The Terps. Can His Three Jumpstart A Run?

Featured, Sports and Bets — January 30, 2014 at 10:19 pm by

The Terps had lost four out five coming into last night’s game with Miami. They almost made it five out of six by blowing a ten point lead in the final two minutes.  But Maryland had the ball with the clock winding its way down to single digits; and with that possession came a chance to save the game and save face in front of a non-sellout, but boisterous, crowd.  Everyone in the building, and every Terp fan watching or listening, knew who would take that last shot.  It would be the guy who hadn’t missed all night, the guy who had scored all 18 of his previous points in the second half, the guy who is the unquestioned leader of this team.  That guy, of course, is Dez Wells.  Wells dribbled and waited, then waved off a pick from Evan Smotrycz before stepping forward and draining a three from the top of the key with 5.9 seconds left. It was as money as it gets, and the 12,000 faithful in attendance exploded.  It was also a great moment in a season that has been filled with hard times and disappointment.  Even better, the 3 point lead held for those last remaining seconds, and Maryland escaped with a win.  It wasn’t a great victory, Miami isn’t a very good team, but it was a great moment for Wells, an extremely talented player who, when hot, can look unstoppable.  And Wells deserves it.  He is the leader of this Maryland team, a player who seems desperate for his peers to just get it.  Wells has bought into what Coach Turgeon is selling.  He is accountable, he plays hard-nosed basketball, and he has been a team first guy, playing out of position for the better part of two seasons as the Terps have dealt with injuries and poor play at the point guard position.  But when Wells is at the two, and he can slash and drive to the rack, he is a dangerous player, one that can slam the ball home or pull up for the mid range two or long three.  That was evident last night, as Dez hit all of his shots from the field and was able to get to the line six times while slashing and crashing his way down the lane.  He hit all of his foul shots too.  There is plenty more to watch of Dez this season, but I can’t wit to watch him play with the talented group that Coach Turgeon has coming in next year.

But is this shot heard round Comcast Center on a freezing cold wintry Wednesday night the start of something?  Is this the spark that ignites a fiery run towards the NCAA tournament?  Is this what wakes this team up?  Probably not, but a “run” is worth a thought.  The obvious key to this teams successes are defense and the play of its two forwards, the aforementioned Evan Smotrycz, and the streaky Jake Layman.  When the Terps play D, they are competitive, if not dangerous.  But lazy play on the less glamorous end of the floor has been an issue all year.  Just like any other basketball team, when the Terps’ offense is aided by a defense that creates easy buckets and fast break points, life is good.  When the Terps stand flat footed and play soft, life becomes the reality of a twenty point blowout at the hands of Pitt, or an embarrassing loss to N.C. Sate.  D is D, it needs to be played for an entire 40 minutes.  When Maryland plays well, a lot of times it’s because they showed up defensively.  But back to Layman and Smotrycz.  Both had 15 points last night, and both carried this team while Dez rode the pine in the first half saddled with foul issues.  With Seth Allen returning and playing decent basketball at the point, Dez is allowed to play the two, where he feels most comfortable.  He is obviously the straw the stirs the proverbial drink on offense, but he needs some support in the scoring department.  Layman is streaky, and he shoots too much, but either he and Smotrycz, or the inconsistent but talented Nick Faust, need to fill the bucket.  One man can’t do it alone, and these three forwards are the best suited to be the Robin to Dez’s Batman.  The only way the Terps can win is if two of these players get consistent.  They can’t rely on their point guard to carry the offensive load, and the bigs simply aren’t playing well enough to make a difference on the scoreboard.  Charles Mitchell plays hard and doesn’t get enough consistent minutes in my opinion, and Shaq Cleare just hasn’t found it yet.  (I say yet because I love his attitude and I think he’ll be a good player down the line.)  So the Terps need their forwards to step up to make a run possible.  There’s no evidence really supporting that this can happen on a consistent basis, but if it does it will be an interesting month of February.

The Terps go on the road for their next two; Saturday’s game is at Virginia Tech, who absolutely sucks, and Tuesday night the Terps travel to Chapel Hill to take on the Tarheels, who are one of the strangest teams in the country.  (They’ve beaten some of the best and lost to some of the worst.)  If they can win these next two, I’ll start believing in something, if not, well, I’ll just wait til next year.

And is it just me, or does Evan Smotrycz sometimes resemble Will Ferrell?

 

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