Maryland-Wake Forest pregame notes: Alex Len looking to rebound from rough outing

February 1, 2013
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon had more than a few harsh words for Alex Len after Maryland’s 73-71 loss to Florida State, when his 7-foot-1 center played only 17 minutes and finished with as many fouls (four) as points, not to mention a crucial missed dunk that would have extended the Terps’ lead to three points late in the game.

Turgeon lit into the sophomore after the game, but seemed content Friday with chalking up Len’s effort as an anomaly.

“He just didn’t play well,” Turgeon said. “He got behind the eight-ball, and he fouled. Alex has been really good for us all year. Just didn’t play well that night. Had a big dunk late, we went to him up one, so obviously we have a lot of confidence in him. Just keep working with him. He’s gotten so much better, so much stronger.

“I think what we need out of Alex is just to be more of a presence around the rim, a better defender. He just hasn’t been that the last couple of games for us, and I think when he’s a presence at the rim, we’re really good defensively. The offense has been there. He’s had a good year. He just had a bad night. Just wasn’t his night.”

Len’s teammates agreed.

“Every good player goes through that. I hope he understood that the best of the best go through having bad games sometime,” fellow big man Shaq Cleare said. “Time for him to clear his head and bounce back for tomorrow’s game.”

Wake Forest, Maryland’s opponent on Saturday afternoon, doesn’t rotate a player taller than 6 feet 9, so the game will provide a solid opportunity for Len to regain his traction and confidence. Becoming a more physical post presence, like Turgeon wants, would be a start. Forgetting his outing in Tallahassee would help, too.

“Alex was fine yesterday, he’ll be fine today,” Turgeon said. “Kids move forward, kids are resilient. Just move forward. He didn’t like the way he played. He wished he would have played better. But he didn’t. Things he can control, he’s got to control and do a good job. He’s been great. Glad we got him.”

>> Friday’s game preview post noted a substantial discrepancy in Dez Wells’s scoring between games at Comcast Center and on the road. The sophomore swingman averages 17.8 points per game away from College Park but just 6.5 per game at home.

One hypothesis would be that Maryland’s offense has struggled so mightily on the road that Wells has shouldered an extra scoring burden. He’s proven capable of taking over games, just like he did Wednesday against Florida State, finishing with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, flashing a gorgeous mid-range jumper that turned a few heads from the NBA scouts at courtside.

Turgeon, however, had a slightly different explanation.

“He’s a tough kid,” Turgeon said. “Loves challenges. Might not need him as much at home as we have on the road. He’s been more aggressive, we’re usually a little behind or right in it. He accepts challenges pretty well. Sometimes at home, it’s been hard for us at home too. We had one easy game, but everyone else has been a hard game. But I think everyone else is a little more comfortable in this building. That might have something to do with it.”

>> Today’s print advance in the Washington Post dealt with a Maryland team rapidly running out of time to secure impressive wins, and how the young Terps are moving forward past the heartbreak of the Florida State game. One Turgeon quote that didn’t make it into the article is below.

Wednesday’s loss “didn’t count as five losses,” he said. “Counted as one loss. Wish we would have won the game, thought we played well enough to win it. Told the guys yesterday, watched film, and I said it’s behind us. We learn from it. We made some mistakes defensively that probably cost us the game. So hopefully we’ll learn from those mistakes, don’t let it happen again.

“We had a game plan, and some of the mistakes weren’t a part of it. We move forward. We know Wake Forest is a much-improved team from last year, like us. We’re much improved, too. Move forward, looking forward to the practice today and preparing for Wake Forest.”

Some interesting stuff mixed with some cliches. Also, I would hope that making mistakes weren’t a part of the game plan.

>> Like many of his teammates, freshman guard Seth Allen has battled inconsistency lately. After becoming one of Maryland’s most consistent three-point threats, he’s made just 2 of 19 from beyond the arc in Maryland’s past six games. Paired with disciplinary issues that kept him out of the first half against Duke last weekend, and Allen has played just 26 minutes over the past two games, a total he’s topped in five games during his freshman year.

So what gives?

“Most young kids let their offense affect the rest of their game,” Turgeon said. “That’s what he’s doing. He let the offense affect his defense and his running the team the other night. And he’s done that. You see it with young kids. And you just keep preaching to them, fight through it, do all the other things if you’re not making your shots. And some kids handle it quicker than others.

“He was making some shots earlier in the year. Now he’s not making them. But that’s all right. Just needs to keep playing. Defending, running the team, getting out on the break. He needs to get some easy ones and take good shots. That’s really what it is, letting his offense affect the rest of his whole demeanor.”

>> Turgeon said that point guard Pe’Shon Howard, who missed the Florida State trip with the flu, should be “100 percent” for Friday’s practice and was just “sniffling a little” Thursday.

>> Per Maryland’s game notes, the Terps lead the all-time series against Wake Forest 66-56 dating back to 1952-53. The Terps have won nine of 11 since 2006, including four straight and both meetings last season by a combined 28 points.

MUCH, MUCH MORE

Turgeon channels his inner Forrest Gump.

– VIDEO: A chat with Shaq Cleare.

Maryland vs. Wake Forest: Previewing the game.

– Poll time! Terps-Deacs, who ya got?

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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