Terps basketball notes: Open season again for point guards

Five days ago, Mark Turgeon sat behind a Comcast Center microphone and declared his support for sophomore Nick Faust as Maryland’s starting point guard. Faust had cobbled together a combined eight-to-zero assist-to-turnover ratio against Boston College and  Clemson, establishing himself as the team’s first-stringer following months of uncertainty.

Or so it seemed.

Now, it’s open season again for the Terrapins, who are still seeking a definitive answer at point guard which, with just three regular-season games left, may not arrive.

Faust, Pe’Shon Howard and Seth Allen are competing to start Saturday against Wake Forest. Turgeon planned to make his decision after Friday’s practice in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“Today’s practice will determine who’s going to start tomorrow and who’s going to play,” he said. “We told them it’s wide open. We’re going to base our decision on defense. Whoever defends the best today in practice and looks like they’re dialed into our game plan is going to get the nod tomorrow. Could be Nick, could be Pe’Shon, could be Seth. We’ll see. All three of them will play some point at some point. I’m more concerned over the 40 minutes than I am the first five minutes of the game.”

Wednesday’s loss to Georgia Tech represented another disastrous effort across the board.for Maryland’s guards. Faust committed a career-high six turnovers. Allen scored 12 points in 25 minutes off the bench, and only turned the ball over once. Howard, on the other hand, lasted just eight minutes and was yanked after attempting a fake behind-the-back pass on a four-on-two break that turned into a blocked floater in the lane.

>> Second halves haven’t exactly been kind to the Terps this season. They are 1-5 in ACC games when trailing at intermission and haven’t won in seven games when they trail with five minutes left.

After the Georgia Tech game, Shaquille Cleare had some strong words about the matter.

“I think halftime isn’t good for us, unless we’re up by 20,” he said. “If we go down into halftime, we never come out with the momentum, even though we should, being down by so much. I just think we have to keep our intensity up and keep pushing. Forget the crowd, forget the fans. A lot of players try to complain about reffing. You can’t worry about the refs. You have to play through that. I didn’t think we had it in the second half.”

>> Against the Yellow Jackets, Maryland made less than 25 percent of its three-pointers (4 of 19) for the first time in nine games. Jake Layman was 0 for 6, while Logan Aronhalt (1 for 3) and Allen (2 for 6) never truly got going.

“It’s one of those nights,” Turgeon said. “We just didn’t make shots. They had some really good looks and we didn’t make them. And it’s tough. It’s tough when you can’t hit any jump shots and they sag down even more on Alex [Len] and Shaq and Charles [Mitchell] and James [Padgett].

“It’s tough to spread the floor. It’s tough for us to spread the floor anyway. We went small lineup and couldn’t spread the floor. It’s all about spacing in today’s game. Some games we’re able to do it, some games we’re not. Obviously against Georgia Tech we couldn’t do that. But it wasn’t our offense that night. It was our defense that let us down.”

For what it’s worth, Maryland went small in the second half with Faust, Padgett, Allen, Dez Wells and Jake Layman, later switching in Logan Aronhalt for Faust. Those two lineups appeared for a combined 1:18, shot 0 for 2 from the field, committed one turnover and lost five points on the scoreboard.

Turgeon did it again with 11:32 left in the game, fielding a lineup of Faust, Len, Layman, Wells and Allen to start, then exchanging guards for the next few minutes. For 3:43, several small lineups went minus-two on the scoreboard, shooting 2 for 4 from the field with three fouls, one turnover and a trip to the free-throw line.

>> The Terps left Atlanta around 3 p.m. on Thursday and spent Friday practicing and working out at Wake Forest. They were scheduled to go through a walkthrough and shootaround at the arena on Friday night, but instead will have an evening film session before team dinner.

>> Wake Forest will honor former player Chris Paul at the Joel Coliseum on Saturday, retiring the jersey of the current Los Angeles Clippers guard.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · March 1, 2013