COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and players Dez Wells and Melo Trimble talked about UMD's upcoming March 22 NCAA tournament game against West Virginia at 8:40 p.m. in Nationwide Arena. Here's what they had to say:
Q. Gary was talking about you and the way you
handled the ball and so forth and stopping you,
slowing you down will be a key. Wondering what
teams have tried to do against you this year and
whatever kind of variance of success they've had?
MELO TRIMBLE: Mostly this year try to blitz the ball
screens and pretty much not letting me have the ball
back once I give it up, and just deny me the ball and
stuff like that. And pretty much try to frustrate me, be
physical with me try to take me out of my game.
Q. Who is the best one?
MELO TRIMBLE: I would say Michigan State team.
[Travis Trice] really tried to take me out of my game by being
physical and stuff like that. And when we played
Oklahoma State, they was a little bit physical too, and
tried to frustrate me and stuff like that.
Q. After having a day to reflect on what happened,
how good does it feel to be here and still be
playing basketball the morning?
DEZ WELLS: It feels great in the tournament, get a
tournament win. That's big for your program. So we
just want to keep this going. But it feels amazing to be
Q. I'm wondering what is it like to try to prepare for
West Virginia's press on short notice? And also it
seems like you guys have a lot of different ball
handlers other than just a point guard, but like four
guys on the floor, and your size at the guard
positions, are those any kind of advantages in
helping you guys to prepare for the press?
DEZ WELLS: We do have big guards. But they're a
great team. So we just have to prepare for them and
be ready for whatever they throw at us. But they like to
play high octane and like to force turnovers. So I think
we've done a great job of taking care of the ball in
those kind of situations. But I'm ready for the
MELO TRIMBLE: Pretty much what Dez said, we have
big guards and stuff like that. I think now that we're in
the tournament, we play with more poise now that
we've seen how they press, and just be more calm, be
more confident with the ball.
Q. Melo, what impresses you about Juwan Staten,
the West Virginia point guard and how he plays?
MELO TRIMBLE: He's a tough point guard, can score
at all angles. He has a nice pull-up. He's quick and
explosive, kind of like myself. He's a veteran guard.
He's been in college for four years. So he's a great
Q. Dez, Jake didn't attempt a shot play until late in
the second half yesterday. It seems like he's been
lacking in aggressiveness in the offense in the last
few games. In that sense, do you guys talk to him
about being more aggressive or do you think he
needs to be more aggressive? Why do you think
he's been sort of lack of aggressive not taking
shots on offense?
DEZ WELLS: We let Jake be who he is on the court.
That's what has allowed him to elevate his game at
times and stuff, but we just tell Jake to be who he is,
each and every day and each and every practice, and
every time he steps on the court to compete with us. I
hadn't realize he didn't take a shot until the second half.
I remember the shot, they called a charge on him or
something like that. Jake is confident. He'll be back.
He'll be ready to play tomorrow. So we're not worried
about that at all.
Q. Melo, wanted to ask you, when you get ready to
play a team that presses or gets after it like West
Virginia, do you have to sort of psych yourself up a
little bit more than regulation, regular kind of
team? How do you kind of primp for that kind of
pressure coming at you?
MELO TRIMBLE: Just going out and playing with
confidence, and not worrying about our mistakes and
playing basketball. We had teams press against us
before, the whole game, just like West Virginia, but not
as aggressive. Just going out there playing with
confidence and we should be able to do fine.
Q. Dez, having been around a little bit, your roster's
changed from last year to this year but more
importantly your success has changed, too. What
do you think was the key to turning it around this
year and getting back into the tournament?
DEZ WELLS: I think the commitment day in, day out to
a certain level of excellence each and every practice
and each and every game. You had a willingness to
buy into what Coach Turgeon wants us to do as a team
and everybody being unselfish and everybody's
focused on winning. When everybody has the same
dream, the same goals in mind, it makes it a lot easier
for Coach Turgeon to coach and makes it a lot better
and more fun for us to play with each other.
Q. Their pressure is to force turnovers but it's also
to set the tempo. I'm wondering, they wanted to be
at fast pace, is that something you guys are
comfortable with. It appears you like to run, too.
Do they want to play a little quicker perhaps than
DEZ WELLS: I think they like to play at a -- like a
frenetic pace, but we're used to that. Like we like to
run. The challenge for us would be to recognize when
we have an advantage when we break their press. So
if we don't have numbers or we don't have an
advantage against their defense after we break the
press, then to bring the ball back out and get it set up
for a good play. Just taking care of the ball.
control our turnovers and control the tempo of the
game, then I think we have a good chance of winning.
Q. Daxter Miles said you two played against each
other in AAU ball. What do you recall from that?
MELO TRIMBLE: At the time I was a little younger than
him. From what I can recall that he was a scorer, just
like he is now. And he always played with a heart and
he always -- he was just out there competing a lot and
playing good defense, doing whatever it took to win.
Q. He said the team he played for tended to be a
little bit more physical than the team that you
played for. Is that true? And does that kind of
remind you of what you're facing now with West
MELO TRIMBLE: That's true. But at the time we was
young. So I mean that's probably why they were more
physical than us. But now things are different. I'm with
a better team. My teammates now, we all just want to
win, do whatever it takes.
Q. I think you all played at Ohio State this year,
right? Which is the better arena in Columbus, the
Ohio State arena or this one?
DEZ WELLS: I think any arena is better than a regular
season arena when you're playing in the NCAA
Tournament. I'd say Nationwide is nice. But Ohio
State has a nice arena as well.
MELO TRIMBLE: Yeah, like Dez said, Nationwide is
pretty good. It's nice. But Ohio State is better because
that's where we're going to be playing, where I'll be
playing for the next four years or whatever. So, yeah.
Q. Just to be fair, since you are playing tomorrow,
what do you all do that's hard to prepare for that
maybe people haven't discovered yet? A lot of the
conversation is getting ready for West Virginia and
their pressure and things like that, the other team
will be, I'm sure you have things that you think do
well that's difficult to prepare for that West Virginia
needs to be aware of. What are those things?
What has to happen for you guys tomorrow?
DEZ WELLS: I think it's really hard to guard us in man,
to guard us in man because we have so many good
shooters and so many guys that can penetrate the ball.
And we have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things
with the basketball, inside/out. I think that's a big
adjustment. But from what I saw they press back into a
zone. So trying to figure out the key to breaking that
zone and their press will be essential for us. So it's
going to be a great challenge on either end.
Q. It's a little late in the season, I guess, making
any changes. Do you pretty much know what West
Virginia is going to do? I assume they pretty much
know what you're going to do. Do you fine tune
thing and hope to adapt to personnel at this point?
COACH TURGEON: West Virginia plays a style that we
haven't seen all year. So we'll have to prep for that.
And they really don't allow you to run much offense or
doing anything like that. So we'll have to prepare and
get ready. We have different press offenses in and
different things we do that we've done. But, no, it's that
time of year. You just give guys some information and
prepare them for certain things and hopefully you play
Q. Dovetailing off that, how do you prepare a team
for pressure? Is it mainly keep your cool? More
than anything else? What's sort of the motto or
COACH TURGEON: There's different ways to prepare
for pressure. And whether you attack, whether you --
you gotta play with poise. But I think it will take us a
while to get used to the pressure and the speed of the
game. And hopefully we'll adapt quickly to it. And then
it comes down to the decision-making, being tough,
being strong with the ball and all that. They're
relentless, like no team I've seen in a long time, as far
as constant pressure, pressure on the ball. Doubling
the ball type thing. So it's a unique style. It's worked
really well for them this year, obviously.
Q. West Virginia's defensive numbers improved
from last year to this year because they completely
revamped what they were doing. Your numbers
improved. Did you guys make any tweaks from last
year or was it simple personnel or what went into
the improvement of your numbers?
COACH TURGEON: I think we have more defensive
numbers, we have more length around the rim. I think
that's helped us. We have some pretty good depth.
We have some pretty good defenders. We have smart
defenders. Really didn't change a lot. So we press
less. We were in the league a lot more this year which
made a difference, so we pressed less. But I think it's
just having rim protectors. Damonte Dodd and Ceko
have helped with their length.
Q. Referring back to yesterday's game, you were
on the other side of defending a 3. How difficult is
it to run a play that gets a good look at a 3 when at
the end of the game situation and you know the
other team has to get that 3?
COACH TURGEON: Offensively it's really hard.
Unless there's just a huge mistake made, it's really
hard to get a clean look. So for us I thought we did a
terrific job on that whole possession before the timeout
and after the timeout. I thought we did a great job. But
it's really hard. It's hard to get a clean 3, especially
when the defense is set.
Q. You've mentioned how relentless West Virginia
is and they kind of have that reputation nationally
as being one of the toughest teams in the country.
Is that something that your team has a mindset of
they want to step up to that challenge or do they
not care what people think about the other team?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, I mean, we talked about it
in scouting report this morning. West Virginia has
always played with toughness since Huggins has been
there. All his teams have played that way.
So there's a
lot of areas where you need to be strong in double
teams against pressure, when the ball's on the glass is
probably when they're their best. So there will be a lot
of areas we have to step up. I thought we played with
more toughness last night than we've played with in a
while. But we're going to have to do that again and
bring it even a little bit more tomorrow night.
Q. It's kind of a unique game tomorrow in the
sense that Maryland and West Virginia, both East
Coast kind of schools that are playing in
conferences more further west. Coach Huggins,
since joining the Big 12, has made an effort to try
to kind of rekindle local rivalries and staying close
in the non-conference.
Do you have to kind of look
at that as well in your non-conference scheduling?
And question two, the size of your guards, being a
bit bigger, having a little more size, does that help
in dealing with the pressure from West Virginia?
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, the first question, we just
schedule the best we can, whether it's local, national.
We have some built-in things that give us a chance to
have a nice schedule. So we have that. It's a little
easier when you can play local teams as far as travel
and budget-wise. I know that's always big. And the
second part of your question, I hope it helps. I hope
that we can see over the double teams. See over the
traps. But we've got to be able to handle them getting
underneath us in that pressure. So that's key. But I do
have some big, strong guards that are pretty good at
handling the ball and hopefully that heighth does help
Q. This season when Damonte is in foul trouble,
he's sort of been rendered ineffective. Last night
he had foul trouble all night, was still able to have
eight points, four blocks in just 16 minutes. How
important was that and what was the key to him
overcoming that foul trouble and still being
defensive in the key?
COACH TURGEON: He was good last night. And I
think if you've been watching Damonte really almost
every game down here at the stretch he's improved
and gotten better and playing with more confidence.
Last night he helped us offensively too, got some
putbacks and things around the rim. So good to see.
It really would be nice if he wasn't in foul trouble for a
I thought the Michigan State game hurt us with
not having him and I thought last night it hurt us, not
having him in there as far as protecting the rim and
good ball screen defender, too. It will be hard because
West Virginia just attacks all the time. But hopefully he
can figure out a way to stay out of trouble tomorrow
night and help us.
Q. Yesterday, just another close game for you guys.
It seemed like you handled that well, you're used to
it. It tends to happen a lot in this tournament,
which I know you know that. What is it about your
team or just maybe the personalities or just even
characteristics or statistics that you think best
explains why it's a tough-out in close games or
even the tournament?
COACH TURGEON: For us, it's been we won some
close games. And we had some close games that
probably shouldn't have been close. And it just kind of
became who we were. And so we'd get an eight-point
lead and all of a sudden it would be tied. We'd go back
up six and be tied. It's kind of gone on all year. The
reason we've been successful in those games so far
this year is when the game's on the line we defend
pretty well and we rebound pretty well.
really had to work hard on execution late in the games
because of it. And then we have obviously a really
good point guard in Melo and player in Dez Wells and
Jake Layman, guys we can go to. And knock on wood
we've been able to make free throws in close games.
So really that's how we've been able to come out on
top in most of the games.
Q. Wonder if you have an opinion on an NCAA
Tournament game starting almost at 11:00, like last
COACH TURGEON: Yeah, my opinion is it's not good.
It's not good for anybody, I don't think. Not good for the
players. Not good for the fans. I'll probably get in
trouble for saying that. But I wish we could start earlier.
Long day as it is sitting around being nervous.
Q. The two teams are somewhat similar in that the
rosters have kind of shuffled a little bit from the
last offseason to this season, and it's not easy
blending in guys and getting back with a
significant win improvement. How has that
happened on your watch this year?
COACH TURGEON: I have good seniors, good
leadership. Dez Wells, his leadership has been terrific.
We have a good group -- we have a group of guys that
respect each other on the floor and our pieces fit. Our
personalities fit and it's just been a real fun team. And
I kind of knew way back in June when we started
practicing that we were going to be pretty good. I didn't
know we'd win 28 games and be sitting here today, but
I knew we had a chance to be pretty good.
Q. Bobby Hurley came up here the other day was
mentioning when he was trying to simulate
Buffalo's defense he was out there joining his
crew, to join their full court press, that simulation.
Kansas threw eight guys out there. Are you guys
trying to do anything else that's kind of a little bit
off beat to simulate what you're going to see from
COACH TURGEON: It's really hard. We played a
game yesterday. And we're going to have to have a ton
of energy for tomorrow night. So we can't practice too
much today. Something I never do but I did this year is
we practiced on press offense earlier this week versus
six, seven guys. I had a feeling that it might come to
this. So we've prepared a little bit earlier in the week
when we had time for West Virginia. Today we'll add a
few things, just have some different looks. But not a lot
of prep time.
And I think Huggins had a press
conference right when I got into the tournament and
said, we're going to be really hard to prepare for for
that second team. And he's right, because you don't
have a lot of time to prepare for all the things they do in
their presses. But we'll do some things. I've got smart
players and they should be able to react. And we
couldn't simulate their pressure no matter how hard we
tried or their speed. So we're just going to have to get
used to it tomorrow.
Q. I want to ask about Jake. How has he affected
the game without scoring, have you noticed? And
what do you have to do to get him back to scoring?
COACH TURGEON: I thought Jake was terrific last
night. He had a tough matchup with Peters. Really
competed. Rebounded well for us. Stepped up and
made free throws late in the game. But we need to get
Jake going. We need to get him more shots. But he's
got to find shots. They were zoning. Jared comes out
and finds five shots in the first half. Jake's gotta find
those shots, too, in our zone offense.
tomorrow night, with the style of play we're going
against will open things up. For us to beat West
Virginia we need Jake to get going offensively. And I
think it will be good. I think he'll be more relaxed
tomorrow night and ready to go and ready to help us.
Q. Want to follow up on what you just answered a
little while ago. But was it a little bit of a mind
game for you to sort of like throw a little bit of
press, preparation in there early? You know what I
mean, from a Jake standpoint? How do you kind of
approach that, because you know you've got to
play two games in three days?
COACH TURGEON: I think the whole thing was, when
I sold it to my players: Guys, we're going to work on
everything today. We had a couple of extra days to
practice. We went twice on Tuesday. I think we
practiced twice Tuesday. So I had time to do things. I
said we're going to prepare for everything. We're going
to work on press offense, zone offense, this defense,
So kind of just had that mindset to kind
of fool them. They're probably smart enough to know
we were working against West Virginia in that practice.
But it was good. It was 15-, 20-minute session on
press offense and just did one of two different things
and just put a lot of guys on the court, made it really
hard for us.
Q. With regard to preparation, Dez said your half
court offense can be tough to defend. I think you
and Melo both mentioned length, maybe even at
the guard position in particular, what advantages in
short prep does Maryland have that West Virginia
has to get ready for?
COACH TURGEON: I don't know what advantages we
have. It would be really hard to run a half court offense
against these guys. I know that. But we have good
players. So if they're trapping us and pressuring us,
we're good at driving the ball. If they trap, we've got a
lot of good players that can make plays.
So it's just
that we don't get too sped up and make bad decisions
is the whole deal. But I like our team, when teams are
trapping us and pressing us, because I think we have
really good players that can make plays.
Q. This has nothing to do with your game in
particular, but it's been 45 years since Austin Carr
set the record for 61 points in an NCAA
Tournament game. Looks like a record that may
never be broken. Can you, with the style of game
that college basketball has become, could you ever
-- is that an unbreakable record? Could you ever
even imagine a guy going off for 61 these days?
COACH TURGEON: I don't know if it's unbreakable. It
will be hard in a tournament game because you're
playing against really good teams, probably really well
coached. To get to 61 would be hard. You don't know
who is going to come along next, who is going to be
the next great player and have the opportunity to get
hot. And the team might -- but that's pretty amazing
And I was a big Notre Dame fan. So that was
good to see. But it's hard. But I think our game is
terrific. People talk about game this, game that, not
scoring. Some really good coaches. Some really good
players. Some really good defenses. And I think our
game's in great shape. Obviously by the first day of
this NCAA Tournament it showed that.
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