USA TODAY Sports
But now what?
Pe`Shon Howard was suspended for the Duke game for undisclosed reasons, and Mark Turgeon said the length of his suspension was undetermined, potentially lasting as long as three games to sink in.
Lesson learned from one, apparently:
Point guard Pe'Shon Howard, who was temporarily suspended by Coach Mark Turgeon before Saturday's upset against Duke, has been reinstated, Turgeon said during Monday's ACC coaches teleconference.
Howard did not suit up with the Terrapins at Comcast Center, nor did he sit on the bench. According to Turgeon, he will travel with the team to Boston College for Tuesday's matchup, and will be available to play.
It's not particularly surprising, I suppose; if the point was to get him to learn a lesson, well, it's tough to top missing out on an upset of Duke. Missing a trip to Boston in February? Yeah, probably not going to have the same effect.
What'll be fascinating to see is how his return is handled. Howard was getting minimal playing time of late to begin with, but the Terps just beat Duke with him getting no playing time. There's not necessarily any causality there, but if he's making a case for Mark Turgeon needing to give him more burn, it took a big hit on Saturday. I've talked a lot about balance this year, and Seth Allen, while throwing the team massively out of whack in one regard (turnovers) provides some nice equilibrium when it comes to putting a perimeter scorer on the floor. Turgeon's already figured out that having one of Jake Layman or Logan Aronhalt on the floor at all times is a necessity; Allen, as the only legitimate perimeter scorer on the roster, might be a similar sort of necessity, taking a lot of pressure off the rest of the team with his ability to get off his own shot. Nick Faust and Dez Wells can do a job in that sense, too, but it's Allen who looked like a good bet to become the starting point guard the rest of the year. After that, Howard is looking like a luxury.
Then again, there are two big ol' caveats to that. The first: turnovers. Maryland turned the ball over on a third of their possessions against Duke, bailed out only by the huge rebounding advantage and otherwise hyper-efficient offensive showing (72% from inside the arc!). Allen played a large part of that, making a few poor decisions with the ball and struggling to handle against Duke's pressure. So there'll be a big push for people, perhaps even Turgeon, to wonder if perhaps the veteran Howard, who does have one of the higher assist rates in the conference, might be better served to steady in the ship in that sort of scenario.
I'm not too sympathetic to that line of thought. Howard is a decent distributor (not playmaker, mind you, but distributor) but he's every bit as prone to turnovers and mistakes as his younger, more explosive counterpart. Howard's turnover rate is 33% on the year, highest on the team, and 36.5% during ACC play - which, extraordinarily for a supposedly steady ballhandler, is second in the ACC. (Topped only by a 6-7 freshman swingman playing the point, Montay Brandon.) Howard's been as big a culprit as anyone else on the roster when it comes to Maryland's turnover problem, and for a primary ballhandler, that's a serious issue. Allen has the same problems, sure (though his turnover rate in conference play is a slightly more comfortable 25%) but he offers something Howard doesn't: scoring.
The second line of thinking has a bit more credit going for it: quite simply, Allen might be too young to be consistently leaned upon. He lit up Virginia Tech, too, and then went missing for about a month. That's a worry, because his natural tendency is to score and make things happen - he fills the Terrell Stoglin role in this team, in some ways, but he's not yet as skillful or talented as Stoglin is. He made a lot of decisions against Duke that Stoglin would've made last year, most of which would've caused Mark Turgeon to rip his hair out, but much like Stoglin he was good enough to make the shots. But if history is any indication, he might not be able to make those shots all the time. And if not, then you have someone who might not only turn the ball over, but will also prevent Maryland from getting into sets. Turgeon won't have much patience for that.
And none of this is to criticize Allen, who's more of a two-guard at this point in time, a young one at that, being asked to play the point. It's not necessarily fair on him, just like it wasn't necessarily fair on Nick Faust; you can't expect him to seamlessly transition to the spot, and problems are to be expected. That doesn't mean the coach has to embrace all of them, though, and while Howard isn't always the best option in the world, he is at least one thing: a darned decent distributor. He gets the offense into sets (for the most part) and makes sure the ball gets where it's supposed to go. When Allen's having an off-day and Turgeon doesn't want to risk him playing through it, Howard will be a viable alternative.
But ... if Howard was available against Duke and Turgeon decided to not let Seth Allen play through his mistakes, instead letting Howard run the show, does Maryland win that game? It's a hypothetical, sure, and something we'll never know the answer to for sure. But I suspect Turgeon will be thinking about it in the future when considering who to let play the point, and how quick of a hook to have on him.