After defeating Moorehead State 67-45 on Tuesday night, and LIU Brooklyn 91-74 last night, we take a look at the four things we've learned in the past week about Maryland basketball.
1. If you ever needed proof that rankings aren’t the end all be all, consider this: The Terps’ lowest rated freshman, Seth Allen, may just turn to out to be the team’s best.
During the summer, a friend of mine who referees high school and AAU teams in the area told me he thought Seth Allen was the best player in Maryland’s freshman class. At the time, I laughed it off. But through three games, his claim doesn’t seem to be so outlandish.
What Allen did tonight was impressive: 19 points on 7-10 shooting, including 5/6 from three and 4 assists. He’s obviously not going to shoot that well every night, but here’s what we know through three games: The kid can hit the three, he can break ankles, he’s got a great handle, and he’s pesky as hell on defense.
Combine those skills with the fact that he’s one of the top two athletes on the team and you’ve got the makings of a really really good college basketball player.
And you know what the best part is? He’s likely going to be here for a while because the NBA isn’t big on 6’1 guards.
At this point in the season every statement we make probably needs to be couched with the phrase "It’s very early". But after three games, I’m pretty sure I’ve learned this: Seth Allen can play himself some basketball.
2. The Terps have a legitimate 10 guys that deserve playing time. That’s a stark contrast from last year and should provide Maryland with a big advantage come ACC play.
What a difference a year can make? Last season, the Terps relied on one player, Terrell Stoglin, for nearly a third of the team’s points. When he was having an off night, Maryland had a tough time scoring.
Fast forward a year later, and the Terps are getting points from a plethora of places. Through the first three games, Alex Len, Dez Wells, Seth Allen and James Padgett have all established themselves as legitimate scoring threats. Faust, (who we’ll get to later) has had a rough start to the season but we know that he can fill it up. Jake Layman, Charles Mitchell, and Shaq Cleare have all made significant contributions. And even Logan Aronhalt has shown flashes of why Turgeon brought him in as a three-point specialist.
The Terps’ depth is huge for two reasons. First, it allows an Xs and Os guy like Turgeon to dictate the matchups he wants depending on what his opponent is doing. He can go small (like he did last night) with a lineup of Pe’Shon, Seth Allen and Dez Wells at the 1, 2 and 3, or big as he did against a taller Kentucky team. Second, the depth also allows Turgeon to ride the hot hand depending on who’s feeling it on any given night. Last night, Nick Faust couldn’t find a rhythm, while Seth Allen was going all Michael Jackson. So Nick sat, while Seth piled up 19 points.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of rotation Turgeon settles into as we begin ACC play, but right now, he’s got 10 ACC-level contributors. That’s an unfamiliar luxury around College Park.
3. Nick Faust is pressing and it may take him a few weeks to find what his new role is on this team.
Last year, Nick Faust’s role was clearly defined. Once Pe’Shon went down, he was the defacto point guard, and the Robin to Terrell Stoglin’s Batman. Went the Terps needed a shot, they looked to Stoglin. Option #2 was nearly always Faust.
This season, things aren’t so clear. Gone are the days of the offense centered around one player. Gone are the days of taking bad shots and staying in the game because there’s no one to replace you.
Against Kentucky, there was a moment around the 4:30 mark in the second half where the Wildcats had stopped Maryland’s run and the Terps’ offense was stalling. A couple seconds into the shot clock, Faust fired up a long jumper that clanked off the rim. Out he came. Last night, after getting called for a couple charges, Turgeon took him out and sat him for much of the second half.
Those kind of plays didn’t necessarily lead to time on the bench last season, but this year they do.
It seems like Faust hasn’t quite figured out where he fits this year and as a result he’s trying to do too much. It’s hardly time to push the panic button, though. Faust will settle into his role soon enough.
He playing a different position this season and with the addition of Dez Wells, there’s another guy in the starting lineup who’s game is very similar to Faust’s. How the two of them share the court and the ball will be an interesting subplot to follow the rest of the season. But Faust will get it soon. He’s too talented and too hard of a worker for things to not click in the coming weeks.
4. After opening night in Brooklyn, many were clamoring for Seth Allen to start at point guard. Allen may be the point guard of the future for Maryland. But right now, Pe’Shon is proving that he deserves to start.
Let’s just get Pe’Shon Howard’s stat line from last night out of the way because it’s ridiculous: 7 points on 1-2 shooting, 7 rebounds, 13 assists and 1 turnover. You will take that any night of the week. He made the right pass when he needed to, he displayed excellent court vision, and he didn’t try to do too much. That’s what Pe’Shon Howard can bring to the table.
He’s nowhere as athletic as Seth Allen, he’s not very quick, he’s not a particularly good shooter or a particularly good defender for that matter. He’s never going to really "Wow" you. But it’s hard to deny that there’s a calming presence when Pe’Shon is out there.
He knows the offense and he knows his teammates tendencies. Aside from Padgett, he’s the veteran of this team and this program.
It’s really hard to quantify what all that means in terms of points and wins and losses. I’m obviously not around the team everyday in practice but here’s what Dez Wells had to say on Pe’Shon last night.
"I feel like he’s undervalued by the fans and media. They don’t know what he brings to us."
In all honesty, we really don’t. But if Pe’Shon keeps putting together games with double digit assists, I suspect those calling for his benching will begin to cut him some much-deserved slack.