Mark Turgeon feigned ignorance with a wry smile on Tuesday when asked about playing Nick Faust more at point guard, something Turgeon hinted at during the weekly ACC coaches’ teleconference.
“I did? What did I do?” Turgeon said. “I’ve got to keep my mouth shut.”
Indeed, Turgeon’s proclamation created a little fuss around College Park. Junior Pe’Shon Howard’s struggles were magnified this past week, when the starting point guard was benched for Seth Allen and turned in consecutive sub-par performances in a reserve role. Allen, meanwhile, wasn’t much better as a distributor, so Turgeon began giving Faust more run as the floor general during practice.
Faust ran the offense for a few possessions during Sunday night’s loss to Miami, but when North Carolina State visits Wednesday, he’ll likely see extended minutes at point guard. The Terps are searching for a spark, and Faust may just oblige, allowing Maryland to work a little faster offensively. Since Faust doesn’t know all the set plays at point guard, teammate Logan Aronhalt said, the Terps might adjust with more quick-hitters, searching for easy, fast buckets.
“Had a great practice, because he wasn’t trying to shoot the ball, he was just trying to run our team,” Turgeon said. :He wants to be a point. He wants to play there. It’ll allow me to get Seth off the ball some.
“Nick got seven shots up the other day and two, maybe two and a half were good shots. He was good today, disciplined today, ran our team, made guys better, which Nick can do. He defended and he led. We need Seth to score. Getting Seth off the ball will help him score a little more. And we all know Pe’Shon’s a good player. Pe’Shon’s just got to start playing that way.”
But Howard’s minutes could dwindle even further if Faust excels at point guard. Howard hasn’t made a field goal through three ACC games, at times looking tentative offensively and over-dribbling. Turgeon said it wasn’t a confidence issue. Rather, Howard was “creating [his] own problems.”
When asked if he sent a message to Howard over the past few days, trying to jump-start one of Maryland’s two captains, Turgeon was quite blunt.
“My message since the last game is quit feeling sorry for yourself, because no one else is,” Turgeon said. “Maybe your dad is. Get your head out, start playing the way you’re supposed to play. Quit pouting. I guarantee North Carolina State isn’t feeling sorry for him. Neither is North Carolina,” which Maryland visits on Saturday.
Faust has some experience at point guard, filling in last season for the injury-plagued Howard. By giving Faust ball control, Turgeon hopes, he’ll display better shot selection, trying to create off the dribble rather than firing errant jumpers on the wing like he did against the Hurricanes.
“I’m excited about it,” Faust said. “I’ll play wherever coach wants me to play. I’ll do whatever I can to help the team win. He didn’t approach me until after practice last week sometime. I’ve been running reps last week at it, told me he might throw me in there a couple times. Today I practiced really hard a lot at it.
“I like running point. I feel as though you get more fun out of it, getting guys involved for open shots.”
As for Howard, the Terps remain confident he’ll rediscover his groove, rather than magnify the problems by sinking further into this recent slump.
“Pe’Shon’s doing fine,” Faust said. “He’s in a rough stretch right now, but as long as he keeps his head on straight I think he’ll push through, I think he’ll do fine.”