Monday Terps Mailbag: Offseason options, non-conference schedules and Nick Faust

Welcome to the Monday Terps Mailbag, pre-NIT edition. Thanks for all the questions. Apologies I couldn’t get to them all. Check back later for a preview post on Niagara, Maryland’s first-round opponent Tuesday night at Comcast Center, and whatever comes out of the team’s media availability at 2:30 p.m.

Any chance Dez tests the draft water? (@Leeroy322)

Doubt it. He hasn’t appeared on any NBA mock drafts for this year or next year, despite that monstrous ACC tournament showing. Wells clearly possesses next-level athleticism and finishing ability around the rim, but his outside shot and defense still need work, which will come with time. But there’s no doubt that he turned a few more heads in Greensboro.

Thoughts on starting 5 next year? (@bgespn)

Based on the late-season contributions of Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust, and if Alex Len leaves like everyone thinks he will, I’d project a very, very early starting five of Howard, Faust, Wells, Smotrycz and Shaq Cleare.

Of course, plenty can happen over the summer. Coach Mark Turgeon loves to talk about improving from year one to two, so I’d expect Seth Allen, Jake Layman and Charles Mitchell to make sizable gains in the offseason too and challenge for those spots. Maryland’s depth will be an asset next season, so it’s not out of the question that the starting five becomes a revolving door, much like it has this year.

% chance the terps add a pg this spring for the 2013-2014 season? is there anyone out there who can help? (@bustaken)

I’d expect Turgeon and his staff to explore their options this offseason, and perhaps look at a Logan Aronhalt-type graduate transfer to rent on a one-year basis. With Howard finally stringing together some consistent performances – and really, all the Terps need him to do is pass, play defense and not turn the ball over – Maryland can afford to ease Roddy Peters into the college level, rather than tossing him into the fire and shouldering him with the burden of leading an entire team right away.

But that doesn’t mean Maryland won’t look for a point guard, or even a more experienced interior player to compliment Cleare, Mitchell and Damonte Dodd, assuming Len bolts for a more lucrative situation. I’ll have a better indication on this once the season ends and will circle back when information becomes available.

what has gotten into Nick Faust? First 2/3 of the season he couldn’t hit a shot, now our most dependable shooter…what gives? (@mrdanielgaray)

Well, his first few shots against North Carolina were pretty dreadful, but he regained his stroke and wound up sticking a career high five three-pointers. And after some abysmal shooting performances earlier this season (0 for 5 vs. Kentucky, 0 for 4 vs. South Carolina State and Lafayette, 0 for 3 vs. NC State and Virginia Tech, 1 for 4 against Boston College and Wake Forest), he’s turned things around.

Faust spent this whole offseason retooling his shot, and those improvements are finally becoming apparent (13 for 28, 46.4 percent from three over past five games). He’s also not jacking up as many head-scratchers – or, as a few ACC reporters like to call it, #YOLO shots – and has become deadly from the right wing. At least four of his three-pointers against the Tar Heels came from that slot.

Is Turgeon going to schedule a tougher non conference schedule next year? (@DinoFTW)

It’s already shaping up that way. Maryland gets a major non-conference opponent (TBD) at the Barclays Center and a multi-day tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Those games at the Paradise Jam aren’t exactly eye-poppers (LaSalle is an NCAA tournament team this season and Providence is in the NIT), but anything is better than Maryland Eastern-Shore, South Carolina State and IUPUI, all of whom had RPIs of 326 or worse.

Only those games and the BB&T Classic matchup against George Washington are set right now, but I’d expect Turgeon to have learned his lesson. Midway through the non-conference schedule, he was already tired of talking about this season’s soft slate, one that was made without knowing Wells, Aronhalt and Mitchell would be on board.

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