After a year spent mainly on the bench, Maryland center Berend Weijs probably had some jitters.
They might still be there nearly a dozen games into his senior season. But there are also glimmers of a defense-and-rebounding specialist who could help the Terrapins throughout the rest of the year.
Weijs brings modest numbers – 3.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 15.7 minutes per game – into Saturday’s meeting with Samford (3-8). Yet he could still remain a valuable part of the Terps’ frontcourt, even with the addition of Alex Len.
Weijs logged 12 minutes Wednesday against Albany, collecting four rebounds and three blocked shots in the 83-72 victory. He looked especially active in the first half, creating headaches on the defensive end.
“Since Alex came back, my minutes obviously decreased a little bit,” Weijs said. “I still try to do what I can. When my minutes get lower, I can bring more energy. I can bring everything I have at that moment because I don’t know if I’ll go back in.”
He didn’t spend much time on the court while Len was playing – just 2:33 total, all in the first half. It isn’t much of a surprise to see coach Mark Turgeon split up the Terps’ two tallest players.
It was also Weijs’ shortest stint since the Terps (8-3) returned from Puerto Rico last month. Again, that wasn’t shocking since Maryland’s frontcourt rotation grew.
Even in a smaller role, Weijs can still be a valuable piece for Maryland – especially since Turgeon sees Weijs as the team’s most consistent practice player in the frontcourt.
“I think with him it’s nerves and inexperience,” Turgeon said. “He didn’t play much last year, so he’s getting used to it, but you see him getting better every game. I like Berend. He’s all about the team. He’s over there yelling for his teammates whether he plays 12 minutes or 25 minutes. Berend’s fun to coach. I want it to be a great senior year for him.”
Weijs, whose family arrived in town from the Netherlands on Christmas Eve and will remain through Monday, is still adjusting to the game. Not so much Turgeon’s system – Weijs said he’s played in something similar in the past – but rather simply logging as much time as he has this season.
He’s credited with 173 minutes already this season, up from 120 all of his junior year. Weijs had only 26 minutes of work over Maryland’s final 19 games a year ago.
“I have to get the game experience,” Weijs said. “Sometimes, I have to pace myself a little more. I get too hyped and too excited and just kill all my energy in one sprint down the court.”
But he doesn’t plan to hold back too much. After all, there’s only 20 or so games left in his career in College Park.
“It’s his last go-round,” Turgeon said. “I get on him at practice about that. I say ‘Let’s go, Berend, this is it. Let’s make the most of it.’”