Turgeon, Trimble, Wells Discuss Valpo

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maryland players Dez Wells and Melo Trimble, along with head coach Mark Turgeon, addressed the media in Columbus March 19 before the Terps-Valparaiso NCAA tournament matchup March 20 at 4:40 p.m.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maryland players Dez Wells and Melo Trimble, along with head coach Mark Turgeon, addressed the media in Columbus March 19 before the Terps-Valparaiso NCAA tournament matchup March 20 at 4:40 p.m.

See what they had to say below:

Q. Dez and Melo, I know you both could answer this question. You're finally here, what's it like to look around this building you'll go out to practice in a couple of minutes. What's it like to finally be in Columbus, digging into the prep now?

DEZ WELLS: It's a lot of excitement surrounding this tournament. Deservingly so. A lot of teams are here that have earned spots here, and we're one of those teams. So it's a lot of excitement around the program and everybody is excited to take this further, try to make a run. So everybody is excited. Man, this is the best time of the year and the best tournament of the year. So I'm just excited for my team to try to make a run.

MELO TRIMBLE: I'm just very excited and very blessed to be here.

Q. Melo, you've talked a lot this year about how you look up to Dez as sort of a big brother. What has Dez taught you about the NCAA Tournament and how have you leaned on him?

MELO TRIMBLE: I mean, it's a big tournament. And just everything, it's still the same, you're still playing basketball and people gotta stay focused because it's a very important part of the year.

Q. Dez, as a freshman, you were in Ohio. You were in the NCAA Tournament now it's come full circle. Have you reflected on that at all?

DEZ WELLS: No, I do all my reflecting once my career is over. As of now I'm ready to be a part of the legacy of Maryland and getting Maryland back to the tournament and us trying to make a run. So I'm just excited about that.

Once everything is over with, I think that's when I'll reflect and stuff. I don't want to reflect too early. And I feel like you get complacent when you start doing things like that. You always want to be on your toes. I'll do my reflecting after everything is done with.

Q. Has the past four years gone fast?

DEZ WELLS: Yeah, it's gone very fast. I tell the young guys all the time, make sure you guys work as hard as you can for as long as you can and whenever you have the opportunity, because this goes fast. And this is the best time of your life, like everybody in here knows, college is the best time of your life. You've got to keep your priorities and everything in perspective. But it goes extremely fast.

Q. Dez, you're one of a couple of people who have been on the team who has been to this tournament before. Is there anything you've shared with the team, something about this tournament or how you need to approach this tournament different than the rest of the season per se?

DEZ WELLS: I tell the guys that the window of opportunity shrinks. Shrinks tremendously for us to do something really special in this tournament. So the little things that we've been able to get by with or being able to win while like not executing during the season we can't do that now.

We have to have everything -- has to come like full circle at this point. We have to box out and limit turnovers and things like that and loose balls and all the little things matter a lot. We have to continue to execute, but we have to just each and every play means a lot. Play every possession like it's your last.

Q. Mark was saying yesterday how the preparation might shift a little bit once you guys got here and you might get more into Valpo. How has today been different, I guess, and have you guys started to delve more into Valpo?

MELO TRIMBLE: I don't think anything has changed. I mean we did the same thing we did in practice. We go over their plays and stuff like that and just basically worry about ourselves and our offense and defense. And that's pretty much what we've been doing all season.

DEZ WELLS: What was the question?

Q. Mark said that the focus might shift today and tomorrow on Valpo. You guys worked on yourselves all week. Have you seen that maybe the last 24 hours?

DEZ WELLS: Yeah, Coach Turgeon, he stressed a lot for us to be ready for the game when the game gets here. You prepare and do all those things, you get all those things out of the way, but you can't play the game before the game gets there.

So we've been focusing on ourselves and doing a lot of great things in practice. But I think we'll all be ready once the game gets here. Valpo, they're a really good team. We'll prepare for them and be ready for them tomorrow.

Q. This Valparaiso team is a pretty big team. Do you guys look at the tape or see what they do? Does it compare at all to what you've seen during the season with the Big Ten with some of these bigger guys?

MELO TRIMBLE: They are a pretty big team, shot blockers. Basically they can stretch the floor and shoot. All of them can shoot. [Indiscernible] We're pretty much seeing that throughout the season different teams have different matchups with us. They can shoot or just power it in, so it's nothing new just. It's different, we're in the tournament now, so it makes a different ballgame.

Q. I know you've talked a little bit about this, but what do you guys remember of watching Maryland in the NCAA Tournament when you guys were growing up?

DEZ WELLS: Do you even remember that?

MELO TRIMBLE: I just remember, I honestly don't really remember anything. I just remember Juan Dixon throwing the ball in the air and they winning the championship.

DEZ WELLS: I'm a little older. I remember the fight, the fighting and stuff they had to do to get there. It was amazing seeing Juan and Steve Blake and Lonnie Baxter and Chris Wilcox and seeing all the things that they did, it was amazing.

Even though I felt like I was there when I was watching and it was a great building block to have like a foundation to have something like that, and to have Juan on our staff and stuff. It was amazing. I remember, man. It was an amazing feat that they did. I can't put it in words.

Mark Turgeon Opening Statement

COACH TURGEON: Obviously we're thrilled to be here. It's been a while for Maryland. And it's been a fun year. Got a great group of guys that have been fun to coach and won a lot of games and we're looking forward to it. Happy to be in Columbus. Big Ten country. And looking forward to playing Valpo.

Q. For those who haven't necessarily been in tuned to your team all season, not as much was expected from others as what you ended up getting out of this team, some transition as far as players in preseason. What came together to get you to where you are at this point?

COACH TURGEON: Well, one, we have great leadership. I think it starts there with our seniors. But our personalities fit. Our pieces fit. Guys respect each other. And I knew in June when we started doing our individual work and we started doing some team stuff that we had a chance to be pretty good.

We had good pieces and the guys liked each other. And from there it's kind of grown and we gained confidence. We played a tough schedule. We handled the schedule and did, I thought, an unbelievable job in the Big Ten to be 14-4 this year. So personalities fit. Pieces fit. Good players. Good guys. Just been a fun year at this point.

Q. When you hear about Valpo, they've had all these injuries, they've had to consistently reinvent themselves. How do you go about prepping for a team then that's shown different lineups throughout the course of the year?

COACH TURGEON: To be honest with you, I don't pay attention to injuries because it's not going to be part of our game. I just watched the last seven or eight games with what they have. And they've done an amazing job. Bryce has done an amazing job with this team.

They remind me a lot of us. They defend well. Games are close. They're good in the half court when they need to be. Guys step up and make plays. They've got a great player in Peters. Very confident, very physical team. So I don't know what they were like when they had those other players, but I do know what they're like now.

And they battled through the semis and the finals with a kid being hurt, which was amazing in itself. So I just watched them lately, I know what they are and what we need to do to be successful against them. This time of year no matter who you play is going to be a heck of a team. We know Valpo is a heck of a team.

Q. You mentioned being in Big Ten country.

Obviously a first year for that. How was that transition for you guys? Do you think it helped you?

COACH TURGEON: Well, I don't know if it helped us. I had a good team. We beat Iowa State early in the year. And we won at Oklahoma State. So we had a good team. I think we're going to be good no matter what league we're in. But everything worked out well, considering you had to learn all these 13 new teams, new coaches, new systems.

My assistant coaches did an unbelievable job preparing us. And obviously looking in now it looks like it was good for us. It's a great basketball league, great coaches, great players. We got the most teams, seven teams, I believe, in the NCAA Tournament. Tied the Big 12. It's heck of a league. It was good for us.

Q. What I was getting at, you mentioned it. You had to prepare for each team like a new team and that's what you've got to do for the tournament. Does that help -- nothing is new when everything is new?

COACH TURGEON: No doubt. Great question. Everything was new this year. So the one thing I like about my team is we've been -- we've just been focused in every game on that team and it's been an amazing deal. Now, we didn't win all those games and we didn't play well in a couple of them but for the most part we were dialed in the scouting reports and did a great job.

So there's no doubt in my mind that coming into this tournament that we'll be dialed in to Valpo and what we need to do to beat them. So maybe going through what we went through really helped us prepare for this tournament.

Q. You've got a few guys on this team who played in this tournament before between Dez and Evan and Richaud. What have you seen from those guys, those seniors, as far as shedding some light on what it's like to play in this tournament and how do you have to prepare for it differently, per se?

COACH TURGEON: We had a meeting last night and everybody that's been a part of the tournament just talked about it. And obviously they shared some moments. Just enjoyed it. Talked to the players about enjoying it. Don't make it bigger than it is. It's a 40- minute game. Could be longer with overtime.

But ten-foot rims, free-throw line is still the same. Three referees, halftime is longer but besides that everything is the same. But we're just preparing the way we need to prepare. But no I think those guys have been helpful and I think a lot of the coaches on our staff have been not only in the NCAA Tournament but advanced in it and I think all those stories helped our new guys.

Q. You talked a lot earlier in the year about how you thought Dez's injury and Evan's injury would help you down the road. Do you feel that's the case now and how do you feel that guys like Dion and Jared are prepared for a stage like this?

COACH TURGEON: They've played a lot of minutes. Jared and Dion have played a lot of minutes. Jared probably a little bit more. They're prepared for this. They've played in all scenarios, tough road environments, great home crowds, whatever it is.

So played against all kinds of different styles. So they'll be ready. Did the injuries help? Yeah, I think so. I think it helped us develop our team a little bit. I think it helped -- probably wasn't the best thing for Evan because he had multiple injuries, but Dez has been good because he's been fresher down the stretch and I think he's been able to put us on his back here when we won those eight straight games, because he was mentally and physically fresh for us. And hopefully that will continue in the tournament.

Q. When you're at Wichita State and you're playing postseason and you're at Texas A&M and you're in the tournament four consecutive years, when you're here does it surprise you that it took four years to get to the spot you're in?

COACH TURGEON: So I've got an ego, so, yeah, maybe it did take longer than I anticipated, because I think we're going to win every game and obviously we haven't. But I'm really proud of what we've done at Maryland, I really am.

Our first year to win 17 games I thought was an amazing feat. Our second year we came up just short and that's the year we could have got in. We were probably one game short of the tournament. Went to Final Four in the NIT, I was really, really proud of that team. And what we've been able to do this year. I think we've won 84, 85, 86 games in four years but everything's based on whether you get in this tournament or not.

So I think I've enjoyed this year more because of what I've gone through to get to this point. And luckily I'm a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit grayer, and I've learned to appreciate good teams. And this team's been a lot of fun to coach. It's made up for a lot of things we've been through to get to this point.

Q. They're bigger than probably a fair amount of mid-majors. Is that something that you can sort of use to I guess maybe the best way to phrase it would be, does that size make them a little different from most mid-majors, and when you sort of point out, hey, to your team, don't overlook this team, they'll look you right in the eye, is that something you can use and what about their size and how to combat it?

COACH TURGEON: Well, I think the thing that we look at first is 28 wins and whether they were 6'10" or 5'11", 28 wins says a lot. I think it's probably an advantage for us that they're bigger because that's what we're used to. If they had a bunch of six-foot guards running around, center at 6'5", shooting 3s, those are hard teams to guard.

So I think it's a little bit of an advantage for us that they're this big. And their size is something that we see every day when we play. So now just respect factor, one, we respect the heck out of them.

But the eye test, when you go out there, oh boy, they're pretty big, yeah, probably is going to help, too. But this time of year you're dialed in no matter what's going on. But they do have a very, very big, tall, lanky team for a so-called mid-major team.

Q. You've probably been asked this before but why isn't Melo -- why does it seem like he's not quite in that conversation with the sort of one-and-done guys or top freshmen in the country?

COACH TURGEON: I know why. I probably just won't say. But he's got great hair. That's why he should be mentioned. At least he thinks he has great hair. I think NBA looks for a certain style of player, certain type of player. Length, speed. Above the rim, things like that. And he's not that guy. He's not the six, seven wing span, run and dunk 'em kind of kid, he's just a really good basketball player. So he's close to that conversation.

And I think where he was a year ago to where he is now. He wouldn't have even been considered in that conversation but he shed 20 pounds. He's worked his tail off. Another year or so, maybe the conversation will be different. But I'm just glad we got him. He's a heck of a player.

Q. To that point about size, this Valparaiso team it's only been outrebounded I think five times in the season. When you know that that's going to be their strength, that's going to be what they want to do, do you guys spend any extra effort battling them on the boards or do you say we'll rotate and get back and we'll worry about it afterwards?

COACH TURGEON: No, we're going to do what we do. We have not been a great rebounding team all year for one of my teams. If you look at the history of my teams we've always been good rebounding teams. This team for whatever reason we're not. We got outrebounded both games in the Big Ten. But we were close, one was one, and the other was three. We're competing better on the boards than we have as the year's gone on we've competed better.

So we look at it as a challenge tomorrow. They're plus-7 on the boards. They've outrebounded a lot of opponents. It will be a challenge for us, but we're not going to back away or any of that stuff. We're going to try to compete.

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