Monday Terps Mailbag: Point guards, ACC scheduling and rotation questions

December 31, 2012

Greetings for the triumphant, correct-day return of the Monday Terps Mailbag, where you ask the questions, I answer and wish everyone a Happy New Years. Simple as that.

(Related note: Submit your questions via e-mail to alex.prewitt@washpost.com or on Twitter. Thanks for reading, friends, and happy holidays.) 

Seemed like PeS took a step back – too rushed; not calming … will Seth get most quality minutes going forward? (@davidjsaul)


Pe’Shon Howard. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The point guard situation should still fluctuate on a game-by-game basis. Pe’Shon Howard’s play has, at least in general, pleased Coach Mark Turgeon throughout this season, so a couple minor ill-fated decisions against Delaware State won’t do much to threaten his playing time. In fact, Howard’s two turnovers Saturday resulted from overshooting a lob pass to James Padgett in transition and getting whistled on a questionable travel violation when, had it not been called, he would have gotten an assist.

But Allen so clearly has defied most preseason expectations that it’ll be hard for Turgeon to keep him on the bench. He’s made 4 of 7 three-pointers over the past two games, averaging 9.5 points against Stony Brook and Delaware State.

Turgeon doesn’t seem to view this as a black-and-white scenario. They operate well on the floor together with Howard running the point and Allen acting as a gunner/penetrator from the wing. Seth Allen has proven himself capable, if not turnover-prone, running the offense by himself as well. If anything, Allen’s play solidified Nick Faust‘s role as a wing player. Barring any sort of foul trouble or unforeseen circumstance, Howard and Allen will be the two point guards moving forward, and that’s not a bad problem for Turgeon to have.

With acc play coming up, what do you see as the 3 toughest games remaining on the schedule? And/or 3 easiest (acc play only) (@aparcan)

What will be the Terps biggest win against ACC opponents this year? Your prediction? (@JackAttax2)

Given Duke’s non-conference wins against the likes of Louisville, Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU and Ohio State, not to mention its No. 1 national ranking, the two Blue Devils games are obvious choices. Maryland travels to Duke on Jan. 26 and hosts Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s bunch on Feb. 16.

Other than that, any road game in this conference is a candidate, save maybe the games against the ACC’s cellar-dwelling teams. The Terps will be coming off an eight-game home stand when they travel to Miami on Jan. 13, and of course playing North Carolina State and North Carolina in three days is nothing to sniff at.

The easiest? How about home games against Boston College (Jan. 22), Wake Forest (Feb. 2) and Clemson (Feb. 23).

As for predicting Maryland’s biggest ACC wins this season, the Terps certainly have an opportunity to make a statement in that aforementioned three-day stretch versus the Carolina schools early in their conference schedule. They get the Wolfpack at home on Jan. 16 and travel to Chapel Hill on Jan. 19. Sweep those, and Maryland could easily solidify itself as the conference’s second-best team entering the late-January showdown at Cameron Indoor.  

But I’m not one for predictions. What do you all think?

will we see Aronhalt getting more PT as one of the only elder statesmen of the team, especially late in games in crunchtime? (@mrdanielgaray)

It’s possible, but the more likely scenario has Logan Aronhalt sticking around 10-15 minutes per game, depending on opposing defenses. If teams go zone against the Terps and dare them to win from the outside, then Aronhalt becomes infinitely more valuable. Against a man-to-man defense, Maryland can still run him off back screens and curl cuts, but it’s harder for the senior transfer to get into a groove that way.

Ever since that 17-point performance against Maryland-Eastern Shore, Aronhalt has tapered off a bit, shooting just 6 for 16 from beyond the arc in the past four games, but with his experience there shouldn’t be cause for concern.

You bring up an interesting point, though. Aronhalt is a fifth-year graduate student, by far one of the most seasoned and knowledgeable players on Turgeon’s roster, and yet he’s still the ninth or 10th player off the bench. Some of that has to do with nagging injuries, which have slowed Aronhalt down in his relative old age, but he’s a bona fide shooting threat and little more. If the Terps need a big three-pointer late in a game, Aronhalt will almost certainly be on the floor. But if Turgeon needs a sustained run, he’s more likely to turn to Maryland’s younger, more electric players instead. Not a knock against Aronhalt by any means, but he has a role to play.

Truth: will Dez & Alex both go pro or will we have at least one of them next year for a fun at the #FinalFour! #TERPS (@kevinleewitt)

I don’t see Dez Wells declaring for the NBA draft after this season. As exciting as he’s been to watch, and as much as the ESPN3 announcers love calling him an “elite finisher,” he’s still got work to do for the next level. That .211 three-point shooting percentage, for instance, will have to come up. Wells’ athleticism is clearly NBA-caliber, but no mock draft I’ve seen has him picked in the first two rounds.

Alex Len is the more interesting question, one I’m sure will come up weekly as Maryland chugs through ACC play and June inches closer. He’s slotted in the top five by most mock drafts, so the money and opportunity will likely be on the table. It’s just a matter of whether Len feels like he has more to accomplish and learn in College Park, and whether that outweighs the benefits of declaring early.

But to answer your question: Yes, Terps fans will, in all likelihood, have at least one of Wells and Len for next year. Not so sure about the “fun at the Final Four,” although I heard it’s a good time.  

Who do you see being in the 8 maybe 9 man rotation for #Acc season? #Terps (@JimBmore)

What is your prediction for how the rotation will “shake out”. FREDTERP (@FREDTERP44)

It’s starting to take shape. Shaquille Cleare, Seth Allen and Charles Mitchell all played very well against Delaware State, and seem to have solidified their places in the rotation. Of course, that can change on a game-by-game basis. Players have off nights, so this 10-deep rotation has Turgeon blessed with options.

However, it’s hard to envision the starting lineup changing, unless someone steps up big time or Turgeon has a message to send to one or more current regulars. It shields the freshmen from the undue pressure of starting, while giving Maryland an energetic, youthful spark off the bench. Aronhalt’s playing time is utterly dependent on matchup scenarios, so that leaves Jake Laymanas the wild card. If he plays like he did in the first half against Delaware State, then Turgeon can run a 10-man rotation, picking and choosing the hot hand at will. If not, then Layman could be the odd man out, seeing more minutes like he did versus Stony Brook and Northwestern (seven combined) then he did against Maryland-Eastern Shore and Delaware State (22 and 19, respectively). ALEX PREWITT

one important question, why is the homegrown Stefon Diggs a Cowboys fan? (@Tom_Natali)

That’s…um…a good question. 

 

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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