The scale and rigor of the ACC tournament can be overwhelming for freshmen, with potential postseason berths at stake, intense media coverage and the physical rigor of back-to-back games for a long as a team wins.
But Maryland freshman Nick Faust has shown no sign of being intimidated by the stage or the moment at Atlanta’s Philips Arena.
Faust, who re-assumed the unfamiliar role of starting point guard when Maryland lost Pe’Shon Howard for the season to a knee injury in mid-January, scored a career-high 19 points in Thursday’s opening-round victory over Wake Forest.
Faust, who also had five rebounds and two assists, played a key role on defense, as well.
“I’ve always been a player that likes the big stage, and when the lights come on, you have to perform,” Faust said in an interview following the Wake Forest victory. “I look at that as a stepping stone. It helps me get more known. I take those [big games], and I eat it up.”
As for the prospect of facing No. 1 seed North Carolina (27-4) for a third time in five weeks on Friday, Faust said he has no doubt that the upset is within Maryland’s reach, despite the Terps’ 24-point defeat to the Tar Heels on Feb. 29.
“We felt as thought in the first half [in the recent loss at North Carolina], we really didn’t play with as much energy as we did in the second half, and we didn’t defend as much,” Faust said. “And we didn’t defend as much. So we’ve got to play for 40 minutes. Even more, if it goes to overtime.”
Faust has averaged 15 points per game over Maryland’s last four contests, and Coach Mark Turgeon couldn’t be more delighted.
“Nick has really been playing well now for about three weeks and took it to another level [against Wake Forest],” Turgeon said. “He really defended and made some shots.”