ACC Media Day came and went with a good amount of fanfare this year since it’s the last time Maryland will be in attendance. Typically these events are filled with stock questions without much pomp and frill, but yesterday actually felt, dare I say, emotional? To never have to hear Coach K ramble about how much he “loves this team more than any other team” or Roy Williams amble up to the stage to talk about corn husks and the benefit they have to your teeth, it’s as exciting as it is upsetting.
Nonetheless, Nick Faust, Evan Smotrycz and of course Coach Turgeon did well to provide us with some interesting snippets to chew on until Friday’s Midnight Madness event. There seem to be a few running trends emanating from the quotes we’ve gathered so far this season, and seeing as how Turgeon tends not to veer away from the truth, we take them at face value:
- This team will miss Alex Len on the defensive end.
- This is the “next step” year, where an NCAA Tournament bid is the bar.
- Jake Layman’s hair is gone, but he’s going to be good
- Turnovers may still be an issue
- Roddy Peters is a menace on the fast break.
- The ACC is tougher, and we’re the villains. So nothing has changed.
On the differences without Alex Len:
“It’s a s a big difference. Alex was a presence offensively and defensively, more so on the defensive side. His presence was a must. This year it’s a more so gap-building defense, building out, guarding, pressuring the ball. It’s more so on the ball defense in the past two years where before, it was a lot of help side, things like that.” – Faust
(These next quotes are about becoming a more up-and-down team after Len’s departure)
“Yeah, for sure. Having Evan and Jake, guys like that who can really stretch the floor. Evan can also play a little five at times. We’ll definitely be a running team. Having them two on the court at the same time is dangerous. Leaves open driving lanes and things like that which will help us out a lot.”- Faust
“I think we have a team who can do a lot of different things well. Real versatile, guys that can score in a number of different ways. As long as we get stops and we’re able to get out and run, I think we’ll be tough to stop.” – Smotrycz
On this year’s expectations:
“Our expectations are pretty high. First year it was new to me, only had a few players. Last year we had a bunch of new players, trying to teach them the system. This year kind of feels like the way it’s supposed to feel. We have a lot of good players. We can go big, small. We have added some good pieces. We’re much further along than we’ve been. We were able to go on a tour this summer, that really helped us. The maturity level is at a different level from last year. I think we lost a lot of games because we were so young and immature. That’s changed…Across the board, the pieces fit.” – Turgeon
On Jake Layman’s transformation:
“Big step forward, I would say Jake Layman. He’s matured a lot. He’s knocking down shots at a high rate right now. He’s definitely going to be a big contribution to the team because he can really stroke it when it’s going. Hair is gone. ” – Faust
“I’d probably go with Jake, too…Jake has been playing particularly well.” – Smotrycz
On Jake Layman’s haircut:
“I think his mom and dad made him cut it. That’s the second questions I’ve had on his hair today….He’s playing well, he has confidence.” – Turgeon
On Dez Wells making major strides:
Wells has been more of a vocal leader in practice . Dez works, he’s hungry, wants to be part of something special. He had a great spring, a great summer. He’s had a great fall so far. Hopefully he’ll have a great winter.”
On the turnover issue:
“Turnovers and decision making, shot selection is a main concern. We’ve gotten better. We’ve worked hard at it. Actually stole a drill from Jim Larranaga that I think has helped with our turnovers in practice. Can’t do the same drill in the game. It’s helped us. Our guys have been more conscious about taking care of the basketball.
Nick Faust had turnovers. Dez Wells led us in turnovers at the three spot. Jake Layman turned the ball over. Charles Mitchell turned the ball over. Individually they all have to get better at taking care of the basketball.” – Turgeon
On Roddy Peters:
“I think he’s ready to help right away. Great in the open court. He sees the game pretty well for as fast as he’s moving. Sometimes you have to kind of slow him down when coach wants us to get into a set or stuff. He’s learning. I think he’ll definitely be able to contribute right away.” – Smotrycz“Roddy is playing pretty well. Kind of has a John Wall style of play. Open transition in the fast court.” – Faust“Roddy Peters will be in at the point guard, too. They’re both good players. They’re both very good on the break. They both need to get better in the halfcourt as far as running our team.” – Turgeon