Nov. 7, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -
Quotes from head coach Mark Turgeon, junior guard Pe'Shon Howard and senior forward James Padgett in advance of Maryland's game vs. No. 3 Kentucky Friday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Head coach Mark Turgeon
On Dez Wells gaining immediate eligibility:
"We are obviously thrilled for Dez. I am very proud of my administration. You choose jobs for a number of reasons - number one its Maryland basketball. [Director of athletics] Kevin Anderson and his staff were phenomenal through the whole process. [Senior associate athletics director for compliance] Dan Trump, [senior associate athletics director/SWA] Lori Ebihara in particular were great, along with my basketball operations [director] Dustin Clark was tremendous in the whole process. I really didn't have much to do with it other than I don't like the word no or to lose. Those guys deserve all the credit."
"I thought Dez was great throughout the whole process. I thought he handled it very well. He never got too high or low. The reason Dez won't be available today is because it is very emotional. There were a lot of people crying this morning, adults included. He went through a lot of things so it was very emotional. We want to protect him today."
On when he found out the news about Dez Wells:
On if they have been practicing as if Dez Wells would be eligible:
"I found out at 8:30 this morning but I didn't tell Dez [Wells] until 10:30. We had to get all of our ducks in a row. That's between the NCAA and the process. I am not really allowed to talk about the process other than we found out this morning."
"We were preparing like he was going to play until we heard no. We have prepared with him. He has practiced pretty well. He will be a different animal now that he knows he will be playing. We will have to see how he handles that. I was practicing a certain way but now we have more depth. We can stay big lineup or go small lineup with four guards. We haven't been able to branch out knowing he was going to play because I didn't want to waste time. We just worked on what we have been working on. In the next few weeks we will change how we play a little bit but we can't do it before Friday. It will give us a chance in the future to do that."
On if he was surprised with the news about the eligibility:
"I wasn't surprised because I have been inside this since the very beginning. I believe in Dez and I believe in our guys as well as the NCAA. I would have been surprised if it went the other way. I am proud of them for coming to that conclusion. If you know the process and the news than you shouldn't be surprised. That is what the compliance people have been telling me. We let Dez know that we were probably going to get a no the first time. We were already working on the next part of it. We had a feeling the answer would come yesterday or today. There were a lot of anxious moments. You never knew what the answer was going to be."
On how emotional it was when he told Dez Wells:
"It was emotional. When I first told him he just smiled and gave everyone in the room that was a part of the process a hug and told them thank you. Then he started to make phone calls and that's when he got emotional. He called him mom, his sister and people who are really close to him. That was when it got very emotional. It was three to five months worth of emotion coming out."
On what Dez Wells brings to the team:
"He is a good player. He gives us toughness, experience having started 32 games on a top 25 team most of the year. He has played three games in the NCAA Tournament so he understands what it takes. He gives us depth and versatility. I think it helps us defensively and rebounding if I can ever get him to box out. It helps us in a lot of ways. It gives every player more confidence because he makes everyone better around him. He gives every coach on our staff including me more confidence that we can be a good team."
On if Dez Wells' eligibility changes the expectations:
"We were 17-15 last year and still have a lot of young kids who are going to play. Going into Friday's game, Kentucky is still rolling out players that we couldn't even get involved with. We need to be realistic. Do I expect us to be a very good team at some point this year? Yes I do. I think the young kids will grow up quickly, I think we have great depth. If we get unlucky with an injury this can help us endure that a little bit easier. It gives us a chance because this is a long season and you have to go through a lot of things. This gives us a chance to be a better team than we would have been without him, that's for sure."
On the relief after finding out:
"All of his family members, and all the people who have put in a lot of time since the day he told us he was coming... It has been a lot of work for them everyday doing something on the Dez Wells appeal and waiver. I feel good for them. I thank the NCAA for letting us know. I wanted to know before Kentucky so we had clarity going forward. The timing is never great but it is better than what it could have been."
On what Dez Wells said when he found out:
"He said thank you. I told him when we were recruiting him that we have the best chance of any school recruiting you to get you eligible. I believed in our people and that we were going to work hard to get it done. We weren't going to let anything deter us; we were going to keep fighting. I think he believed that when he committed to us. Kevin Anderson wasn't here today, he was already in New York, and so he called him to thank him. He thanked everyone around here. He knows a lot of people put in a lot of effort for him. That is what they get paid to do; we are here for the student-athletes. Those people were choked up when Dez thanked them and they said the smile on his face was worth all of the effort. It was a great moment for a lot of people."
On if he thought he could turn around the team so quickly:
"When the season ended I didn't think we could turn it around so quickly. We have been so blessed and fortunate to add the pieces since the season ended. Charles Mitchell committed to us the last week of the season. We added Logan Aronhalt, [Evan] Smotrycz, and then Dez Wells. There is no way I thought that could happen. To add those guys and have good chemistry like we do, it gives us a chance. We have put in a lot of work. I have great assistant coaches who are really good at what they do and they work hard. They deserve a lot credit for helping us to get these players here."
On the opportunity of playing Kentucky:
"We are excited about the opportunity and we were excited about the opportunity before this morning. I said before that John [Calipari] could have called anyone in the country but he called me and asked if I wanted to play in this game. We both knew that we were going to have young teams going in. I thank him for giving us this opportunity. The publicity that we are going to get from playing in this game is big for our program, win or lose. "
On who helped themselves in the exhibition game:
"Seth [Allen] and Charles [Mitchell] did help themselves in the exhibition game. They continue to practice well and I think we all have confidence in those guys that they are going to play well. There wasn't a guy in our rotation that we didn't have confidence in. That game those two helped themselves the most. We have a lot of starters. We can only start five but we have seven or eight starters on this team."
On if the expectations have changed with the addition of Dez Wells:
"I think it changed. We have experience and depth now. We were excited about the year anyway. We thought we had the chance to be pretty good. We thought we were a team that was going to get better and better. We expect to be good and be in some type of postseason. We just try to get better every day; for the most part we have done that. We had a bad week but the players have responded pretty good since that."
On Dez Wells' role against Kentucky and if he'll be limited by conditioning:
"He is in great shape. He has been practicing every day. How much, I don't know yet. It depends on if he stays out of foul trouble and how we, and he is playing. He is a major part of the game plan moving forward."
On if the players are looking at him as a leader:
"I think our guys have looked up to him since he has been here. He practices very hard. He competes in every drill that we have like it is the last competition he is every going to be in, and that rubs off on people. Our players respect that. They respect what he did and he is a good player. I think our guys are happy for him and they are excited as to what he brings to the table."
On the team's excitement heading into the first game:
"I hope we can hit the rim the first few shots. We will be excited. It is a 40-minute game though. They [Kentucky] will be the same way. I talked to Coach Calipari this morning and his team is a lot like mine. He isn't sure what he is going to get out of his young kids. Our kids will be excited that Dick Vitale will be there so I will have to temper that. There are a lot of things that will be involved. I hope they are locked into the game plan and how we are supposed to play. As long as they play the way they practice that is all that matters. They may not play well but as long as they do the right things that is all that coaches are looking for. I imagine our guys will do that."
On how the team matches up with Kentucky:
"I thought we matched up before the news this morning. They [Kentucky] are playing seven and a half or eight guys. We are playing nine. They can go small or big. We can go small or big as well. They have good players. They make scoring look easy, they just throw it up to the rim and guys dunk it. Size wise, and our player wise I think we match up pretty well."
Junior Guard Pe'Shon Howard
On what Dez Wells brings to the team:
"He is a great leader and he adds a lot of elements to our team. He has the experience of playing in a NCAA Tournament. Everyone is excited for him. He has been so supportive of us even with him not knowing if he was going to be eligible or not. He has brought it every day in practice and has helped us get better. We are just happy for him."
On how relieved Dez Wells was after knowing the news:
"I can't speak for him but knowing how I would be in that situation it would be a big relief. The entire time even when he didn't know if he could play or not he was a big part of the team."
On how Dez Wells makes the team better:
"He makes us a lot better. He can do a lot of different things on the court. He helps us with our depth. He just brings a lot to the team. "
Senior Forward James Padgett
On the team's reaction to Dez Wells being eligible:
"Everyone was excited for him, we are happy to have him back. We know he will be a great addition to our team."
On what Dez Wells brings to the team:
"He is very explosive. He is a great teammate and defender. He is doing a great job being a leader. We have a lot of young guys so he is one of the few guys with experience that we have."
On the change the team has underwent:
"When you are in college a lot of things happen. I remember someone told me that the people you come in with won't be the people that you leave with. In college there is a lot of change. There has been a big change since last year and I am excited for this year."
On opening the season vs. Kentucky:
"Everyone is excited. It's the first game of the season, in a new arena and we have a lot of new guys on the team. I think it will help us bring a lot of energy to the game."
On playing in his hometown of Brooklyn:
"It is a homecoming to me. I will have a lot of friends and family at the game. This is the first game of my senior season so I am excited to get it started."
On if he has seen the Barclays Center yet:
"When I was home I went shopping so I saw the Barclays Center being built. It looks good from the outside."
On the opportunity to play in the Barclays Center:
"I never imagined that I would get the chance to play there. I am blessed to have this opportunity to go home and open up my senior season there. We are playing Kentucky so it should be a good game. There will be a lot of people there. It is on ESPN so we are all excited for the game."
On the excitement of the first game:
"Everyone will be excited and have some jitters. I am focused on playing our game, good defense and seeing if we can come out with a win."
On improving the team's rebounding:
"We have more bigs and a deeper team. Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare are great rebounders. They will help us out a lot in the paint along with Alex [Len] and I.