Seth Allen turned heads when he emerged from the bowels of Madison Square Garden in full uniform, wearing his customary shooting sleeve and leading Maryland’s pregame layup line Tuesday night. His broken left hand still heavily wrapped, the bandaging covering all but the fingers on his shooting side, Allen gingerly took warmups in full.
At best, the freshman guard’s playing status was a long shot. Allen could only hoist jumpers with his non-dominant hand, his motion still awkward despite being fairly ambidextrous. He participated in dribbling lines, too, giving hope to fans that maybe, just maybe, a miraculous comeback was possible.
“In his mind,” Coach Mark Turgeon said, when asked if Allen could have played in Maryland’s season-ending loss to Iowa. “Not in my mind. He was pain free. But he couldn’t shoot it. He could handle it a little bit. If it had been his off hand, his right hand, we probably would have played him. But it wasn’t worth it.”
So instead Allen sat on the bench, powerless as the Terps never got into an offensive rhythm against the physical Hawkeyes, wondering if his speed in the open court might have made a difference.
“Yeah it hurt,” Allen said afterwards, standing near the locker room exit while his teammates packed their bags and filed out. “There’s times I felt like I let the team down or got hurt and didn’t stay healthy. I felt like I could have been really useful out there for the guys. Spread offense, that’s probably the best thing I’m good at, in the open floor making plays for my teammates. I feel like I could have created for them. I just had to sit down and watch, be a good coach on the sideline, help them out.”
Despite a solid freshman season (7.8 points per game, 2.3 assists per game, team-high 1.0 steal per game) cut short, Allen has a bright future with the Terps, so risking further injury over two games didn’t make much sense. No decision has been made concerning surgery, Allen said, but recovery without it will take at least four weeks longer. Allen saw a hand specialist last week.
“They haven’t determined anything,” Allen said. “It’s healing good, everything’s looking good, I probably won’t need it.”
Given that Allen warmed up pain-free and is clearly itching for a quick return, he must now fight the pesky temptation to hurry his comeback, foregoing the proper rehabilitation process to play sooner.
“There’s definitely temptation, sitting on the sideline, wanting to play,” Allen said. “If he had said my name, I would have went out there and play as hard as I could. It’s good to take things slow, let them heal so I can come back healthy.”