Turgeon, Wells, Trimble Talk Terps-WVU

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.

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 here still.

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 challenge.

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 player.

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 you do?

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.

We can 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 Virginia?

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 well.

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 mantra there?

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 us.

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 game.

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.

And we've 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 night's?

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 West Virginia?

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.

So hopefully 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, that 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 record.

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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