Mark Turgeon looked like a refreshed man Wednesday night, and why not? Here he was, wearing one black Maryland-themed sneaker and one red, lounging against the railing of the Spirit of Baltimore cruise ship, overlooking Baltimore Harbor. He took in the Preakness Stakes two weekends ago, and chaperoned a field trip to the Baltimore Zoo over the Memorial Day break, for his daughter’s class.
But things are already gaining steam, as Turgeon’s sophomore year in College Park gives way to his third. Players reported to campus for summer school this week, including two incoming freshmen expected to contribute immediately. Eight weeks of individual work separate Maryland from its 10 allowed practices before the team takes flight on its exhibition tour to the Bahamas. And chief among Turgeon’s challenges is stabilizing a point-guard situation that drew much attention and scrutiny last season.
The Terps will continue to monitor the transfer landscape, even after losing out on former Memphis point guard Antonio Barton to Tennessee, but Turgeon seems content plowing ahead with rising sophomore Seth Allen and freshman Roddy Peters as the floor generals. Allen is totally recovered from a broken wrist that didn’t require surgery, Turgeon said, and has resumed full basketball activities. Peters, a five-star prospect from Suitland according to 247sports.com, enters amid much hype and expectations, but could have his collegiate landing braced by Allen’s progress.
“I’m really comfortable,” Turgeon said, accompanied on the cruise by rising junior guard Nick Faust. “I think late in the year, Seth before he broke his hand was starting to play some very good point for us, and I think Roddy is going to be an exceptional point for us. Then we have Dez [Wells], who can play a little point. I think those two will be able to handle it.
“The main reason we’re looking at a piece is if we have an injury, and that’s really the main reason why we’re trying to add the right piece. Just like when we took the job, we’re not going to sign a player just to sign a player. We work hard at recruiting. It’s going to work out.”
Prior to breaking his hand during practice, just before Maryland’s NIT quarterfinals matchup at Alabama, Allen had strung together an impressive postseason, averaging 10.8 points over five games in the ACC tournament and NIT. He’s a lightning-quick ball-handler with a tendency to over-exert himself and make poor decisions, but take away his two worst turnover games — seven against Monmouth and eight against Duke, a game he clinched with late free throws — and Allen’s assist-to-turnover ratio was roughly 1.5 to 1.
As for any summer additions, Turgeon had few answers. Maryland was linked to Vertrail Vaughns (George Mason to North Texas), Eli Carter (Rutgers to Florida) and Barton, but still remains at nine scholarship regulars, plus a host of walk-ons Turgeon anticipates playing contributing roles. A one-year rental, backed by the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule, would probably be Maryland’s best option.
“I can’t answer that, because I don’t even know what’s going to pop open,” Turgeon said. “And I’d answer it different tomorrow than I’d answer it today. I’m banking a lot on our future recruiting, I’m banking on the nine guys we have, I’m banking on Spencer Barks and John Auslander and Varun Ram are 10, 11 and 12 for us, pretty good pieces because they’ve been with us.
“Last year we had too many guys, tried to play too many guys. I think it’ll be a lot easier. If we did add a piece, I think it would have to be the right piece. To be honest, I don’t have the answer for you just yet.”