Just what a young Maryland team without guard play needed ahead of what may be their biggest game of the season: their junior point guard (one of only three upperclassmen on the roster, and one of only two true guards) suspended, apparently indefinitely. Fannnntastic.
Mark Turgeon announced today at his pre-Duke presser that Pe`Shon Howard has been suspended for violation of team rules, with the duration of the suspension still undecided:
#Terps G Pe'Shon Howard suspended. "Not making very smart decisions. Got team rules, got to follow them," Turgeon says..— Jeff Barker (@sunjeffbarker) February 15, 2013
Turgeon on Howard: "He’ll miss one game, maybe two, maybe three. I want him to learn from his decisions." #Terps— Jakob Engelke (@Jakob_Engelke) February 15, 2013
The good news, insomuch as there is any at all here, is that Howard had hardly been a big factor for Maryland to begin with. He struggled mightily during the beginning of the ACC season in particular, and there was a line of thought that Maryland might be better if his minutes were reduced, something that Mark Turgeon entertained only inconsistently.
But Howard has improved of late, acquitting himself well in ten minutes of playing time against Virginia Tech (not saying much) but also looking like the only player to come out of the loss against Virginia with any credit. He played with an intensity lacking in the rest of the team, finished 2-4 from the field (with a three-pointer) and notched two assists, turning the ball over only once in 17 minutes of play. Maybe, just maybe, it might've made sense to give him some more time against an experienced, difficult opponent like Duke, especially as he finally appeared to be getting his sea legs under him. At the very least, you'd want him on the bench as an option.
Instead, Nick Faust will continue to run the show, you'd expect, spelled primarily by Seth Allen. That's what Maryland's been doing anyway, and in that sense it doesn't seem likely that they'll miss Howard's contributions, which were at this point somewhere between insignificant and inconsistent anyway. But a good Maryland team this season was going to need to have a contributing Howard on it, and this not only prevents that, but it'll also make it even tougher for Howard to continue improving. His up-turn in performance was slight, but it was there, and there was the potential he might finally be getting back up to speed; sitting for a few games, plus taking the confidence hit this surely will be for him, isn't going to help that cause.
Still, that potential was, at this point, nothing more than potential. While it'd be nice to have him on the floor, Howard in his current form isn't a substantial loss for Maryland in terms of performance. Depth and foul trouble could potentially become issues here, but the Terps are still a deeper team than Duke, and indeed most teams they'll run up against.
If it's a one game suspension, Howard will be back for the road trip up to Boston College; if Turgeon stretches it to the full three, he'd miss that as well as a home game against Clemson, returning for a trip to Georgia Tech. The back stretch of Maryland's schedule is weaker, so there's certainly a margin for error for this type of thing. But for a team that's light on experience, you'd like to have the veteran players around in the locker room, and you certainly don't like seeing them make mistakes like Howard has evidently done.