At the biggest moment of the season, the Maryland men’s basketball team handed control to Seth Allen. He idled near midcourt on Feb. 16, sizing up Duke guard Quinn Cook with the clock ticking down and the score tied. The fans stood up, ready to storm the Comcast Center floor, if only Allen could deliver.
He did. The freshman point guard crossed up Cook, surged into the lane and, after getting fouled on a desperation bump by his defender, sank two game-winning free throws. The crowd tumbled down from the Comcast Center stands, Allen at the middle of the celebration, the hero on a cold winter night.
Until Allen incurred a season-ending wrist injury during practice before the National Invitational Tournament quarterfinals, he had been Maryland’s most consistent rookie. Arguably the ACC’s quickest player, he slogged through some typical freshman mistakes – including six games with at least four turnovers — but still finished fourth on the team in scoring, first in steals, fifth in minutes and fourth in assists.
This year, with Pe’Shon Howard transferring to Southern California, Allen becomes Coach Mark Turgeon’s clear-cut starting point guard, tasked with shoring up a position that rotated through four players in 2012-13. But as Nick Faust and Dez Wells return to full-time wing duties and freshman Roddy Peters assumes the backup role, all eyes turn to Allen to answer questions that, in his mind, have already been answered.
Everybody talking bout Maryland point guard play is limited and we lack in that area… JUST WATCH
— Seth Allen (@bbll4eva_Allen) September 14, 2013
Before the injury – which has since healed without surgery — Allen averaged 10.8 points over his final five games, topping double digits twice. In three exhibition games in the Bahamas this August, he averaged 17.3 points, only behind Jake Layman (21.3 ppg).
But with Wells, Faust, Jake Layman and transfer Evan Smotrycz lurking around the wing, Maryland may need Allen to pick his scoring spots.
“I think there’s a time and a place,” Turgeon said. “We need Seth to score. Seth’s a dynamic scorer. Seth’s going to play off the ball some with Roddy. But we need Seth to score. It’s just when he’s got a guy in his face and he’s got a guy open, he’s got to be able to recognize that. If we’re coming down on the break and he tries to shoot over somebody when he’s got a guy for a layup or a wide-open three, he’s got to recognize those situations.”
A jovial soul whose Instagram and Twitter feeds contain windows into his personal life – go-karting with forward Charles Mitchell, munching on watermelon with Nick Faust, playing Guitar Hero with center Damonte Dodd – and romantic notes to his girlfriend, Rider University guard Mikal Johnson, Allen needs work on harnessing his on-court emotions, his coach said.
“The whole thing with Seth is keeping him even-keeled,” Turgeon said. “He’s either really high or he’s moping about something. It’s keeping him at that level. He doesn’t have to be the leader. He just has to get us into our stuff. Dez and Nick and Evan, we have guys who want to lead this team, guys capable of talking. I think Seth just needs to stay here, next play mentality. And we’ll keep watching film with him. He’s so much better than he was last year at this time. Those situations, more commitment to defense and just staying level is really what’s important to me.”