Turgeon, Terps excited to welcome Dez Wells

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Turgeon, Terps excited to welcome Dez Wells

When Dez Wells first heard the news that theNCAA would allow him to play this year for theMaryland Terrapins, his face lit up in a smile. As the news set in, Wells realized the importance of the NCAA's decision, and hugs and tears filled the room. 

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon explained that the scene in the room was emotional, and eventually those emotions turned into excitement.

"Obviously we're thrilled. We're thrilled for Dez," Turgeon said. The coach explained that he was very proud of the athletic administration at Maryland for continuing to fight for Wells, and that all parties involved -- coaches, players and administration -- worked hard to arrive at today's news. 

"I believed in Dez and I believed in my administration," Turgeon said.

Wells transferred to Maryland this season after playing his freshman season at Xavier University. Typically a transfer player is forced to sit out a season, but Maryland requested that the rule be waived in Wells' case. Maryland was first denied that waiver, but the circumstances for Wells were unique. His expulsion from Xavier University amid sexual assault allegations had many question marks -- an Ohio grand jury decided not to press charges against Wells, and the Xavier administration was later admonished for their handling of the situation --and the Terps appealed the NCAA's initial decision. 

"I wasn't surprised because I was in on the beginning of this," Turgeon said of the NCAA decision. "Once they had all the facts I wasn't surprised. I would have been surprised if it went the other way."

His comments were a far cry from some previous eligibility issues that former Maryland coachGary Williams encountered. In those days, Williams and former athletic director Debbie Yow often bumped heads, and Williams did not always think he had the full support of the athleitc administration. Turgeon's experience sounded completely different from those days, and he personally thanked and saluted many of the athletic department staff who fought for Wells' eligibility. 

Now that Wells is eligible, the Terps immediately improve on the court. Wells, a 6'5", 215 lb. slasher that averaged almost 10 points and five rebounds as a freshman, gives Turgeon depth and an explosive athlete. 

"Dez is a good player," the coach said. He listed toughness and experience as two of Wells best qualities. In his freshman season at Xavier, Wells played on a team that went to Sweet 16. That experience gives other Maryland players confidence too, Turgeon explained. 

"He understands what it takes," Turgeon said. "He helps us in a lot of ways. He gives every player more confidence."

Senior forward James Padgett echoed Turgeon's comments.

"He makes us a much better team," Padgett said. "We're all excited for him."

Now that Wells eligibility issue has been settled,Maryland must focus on its next challenge: theKentucky WildcatsMaryland faces No. 3 ranked Kentucky Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. It will be a big stage for many of Turgeon's young players. 

"Our guys will be juiced up," Turgeon said, and he added a joke that the players won't know how to react when they see famous college basketball announcer Dick Vitale.

Despite any first game jitters, Wells makes the Terrapins a better team. Many pundits now project Maryland as an NCAA Tournament team with his addition. Even with the good news, Turgeon wanted to keep expectations in check. 

"Let's be realistic here," Turgeon said when talking about Kentucky. Wildcats coach John Calipari assembled another top notch recuriting class, with many players expected to leave college early for the NBA. But regardless of the outcome from the Kentucky game, Turgeon has postseason expectations for the 2012-2013 Terps.

Turgeon said he does expect Maryland to be a good team this season, though when that will happen remains a question.

"Do I expect us to be a really good team at some point this year? Yes I do," he said. "I think our young kids will grow up quickly. I think we have great depth." 

Wells is in great shape, Turgeon said, and though the coach would not comment on his starting five for Kentucky, most people around the Terps program expect Wells to start or get starter-type minutes.

With a nine or ten-man rotation that will lean heavily on freshmen and sophomores, the Terpsmay be a work in progress early in the season. But Turgeon and the players all seem confident that having Wells on the court will have a positive impact. 

"This definitely gives us a chance to be a better team than we would have been without him," Turgeon said. 

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Making sense of new report showing Cousins, Redskins far apart on contract

Making sense of new report showing Cousins, Redskins far apart on contract

Considering the Redskins placed the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins for a second-straight offseason, it's obvious a contract chasm remains between the passer and the organization. A new report from MMQB.com cements it. 

After speaking with Washington team president Bruce Allen in Phoenix at the NFL League Meetings, Albert Breer wrote:

The deal that’s been offered is a five-year extension over the $23.94 million franchise tag that would lock up Cousins through 2022. I also know that the sides aren’t close to getting something done now. And while Allen insisted to me that he didn’t see the high one-year price making the long-term talks any trickier, the road to getting a deal done certainly won’t be easy.

Cousins stands to make nearly $24 million this season on the franchise tag, and reports have shown the 'Skins offered a 5-year deal worth $100 million as the extension beyond the tag. 

Put bluntly, that's not close enough to sign Cousins, regardless of the guaranteed money. He stands to make $24 million this year, and Allen has repeatedly mentioned an 'option' for Cousins in 2018. That option could be one of two things: the transition tag or another franchise tag. The transition tag would carry a price tag around $28 million in 2018. The franchise tag would go even higher, detrimentally, to around $34 million.

Cousins' camp will not work on a new deal that carries an average of $20 million per season. It just doesn't make sense when he stands to make $24 million this year and at least $28 million should the 'Skins excercise a 2018 option.

Allen told CSN at the League Meetings he remains "hopeful and confident" the franchise can get a long-term deal done with Cousins. The deadline for the team to get a new deal done with Cousins hits in mid-July. 

If a multi-year contract is to get done, it's going to take a lot more money.

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Prospect report: Playoff time in the WHL

Prospect report: Playoff time in the WHL

Hershey update: 38-19-8-3, 4th in the Atlantic Division. Last week: 1-1-0-0

The Hershey Bears split their two games over the weekend with St. John’s with a 4-3 loss on Saturday and a 2-1 win on Sunday.

Saturday’s loss came in heartbreaking fashion as the Bears gave up the game-winner with just 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

Chandler Stephenson recorded an assist in the game, but gave up an absolutely dreadful turnover for the game-tying goal. From behind his own net, he attempted a no-look back pass that went directly to a St. John’s player who passed it to the slot for the goal.

Jakub Vrana recorded two points in Sunday’s win, including the game-winning goal.

Jonas Siegenthaler made his season debut for the Bears in Sunday’s game. He was a plus-one on the day.

The real star of the weekend for Hershey was goalie Pheonix Copley who started in both games. The young netminder was particularly strong in Sunday’s win, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he faced in the win. Since returning to Hershey, Copley is now 7-2-0 with a 1.94 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.

Travis Boyd and Riley Barber each had a goal and an assist over the weekend for the Bears.

RELATED: Caps show off scoring depth in Colorado

Other prospect notes:

The WHL Playoffs are underway. Lucas Johansen’s Kelowna Rockets jumped out to a 3-1 series lead and are one win away from eliminating Garrett Pilon and the Kamloops Blazers. Johansen and Pilon both have one assist in four games.

The news wasn’t all bad for Pilon, however, as the Caps signed him to a three-year, entry-level deal on Thursday. He will report to Hershey at the end of the WHL season which may come as early as Friday.

Connor Hobbs and the Regina Pats are on the verge of sweeping Beck Malenstyn and the Calgary Hitmen. Regina has outscored Calgary 15-5 in three games. Hobbs has recorded two assists in each game while Malenstyn has yet to record a point.

Dmitriy Zaitsev is locked in a tight battle as his Moose Jaw Warriors are currently locked in a 2-2 series tie with the Swift Current Broncos. He has one assist.

Both Shane Gersich and Brian Pinho saw their seasons come to an end in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

North Dakota loss to Boston University 4-3 in double overtime on Friday. Gersich registered eight shots on goal, but could not get onto the scoresheet. Providence also lost in the first round to Harvard 3-0 on Friday.

There is no word yet on their future plans or if the Capitals have tried to sign either to an entry-level deal. Gersich’s teammate, Brock Boeser, was signed Saturday by the Vancouver Canucks and scored his first goal NHL that afternoon. For any who may have dreams of Gersich or Pinho following suite for the Caps, that’s unlikely to happen.

The Capitals seem pretty set with their lines right now and, if they were to recall anyone as a backup, it would likely be Jakub Vrana or they would stick with Paul Carey. Neither Gersich nor Pinho would likely be the top choice for a Washington team hoping to win the Stanley Cup.

That doesn’t mean the team won’t be interested in signing them and sending them to Hershey, however.

Gersich will be a rising junior at North Dakota, Pinho a rising senior for Providence if they both choose to return to college.

Ilya Samsonov’s KHL team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, completed a four-game sweep of Ak Bars to advance to the Gagarin Cup Finals for the second consecutive season. They will face SKA starting April 8.

While Siegenthaler returned to Hershey, there will be no such return trip for forward Kevin Elgestal. Elgestal’s season in Sweden was limited to only 25 games after he suffered a broken thumb in January. NOVA Caps caught up with Elgestal to get an update on his progress and it sounds like he will need to continue rehabbing over the summer.

Check out the full update here.

Forward Damien Riat has been selected to Switzerland’s initial team roster for the World Championships. The team will have a two-day training camp starting on April 5. This year’s tournament will be held in Germany and France from May 5 to 21.

For more Capitals coverage, check out the latest edition of the Capitals Faceoff Podcast!