Maryland point guard Seth Allen ready to step into spotlight

October 15, 2013

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Seth Allen had heard all the chatter about Maryland’s supposed lack of a reliable point guard, so the Terrapins’ sophomore took to Twitter for his rebuttal. “Everybody talking bout Maryland point guard play is limited and we lack in that area,” Allen wrote last month. “…JUST WATCH.”

In retrospect, it wasn’t his best idea.

“I’m not one to just talk and talk,” Allen said last week. “I tweeted about it one time and everybody attacked me. I was like, ‘Dang, I’ll stay off that.’ ”

See, around the Allen household in Woodbridge, Seth’s father Joe has a saying: “Don’t talk about it,” he would tell Seth. “Be about it.”

Maryland needs Allen to become its point guard. It needs Allen to lead its offense, to avoid the youthful errors that soured his freshman season, to prove the Terps don’t just lack in that area, but they can excel there, too.

Undeniably one of the ACC’s quickest first steps with the basketball in his hands, Allen pinpointed shooting and defense as his offseason nodes of emphasis. Without point guard Pe’Shon Howard, Allen’s old mentor and fellow floor general who has transferred to USC, the Terps need a lockdown perimeter defender to emerge. But more pressing, they need someone to run the offense effectively and make smart decisions.

As a former point guard at the University of Kansas, and with at least four former point guards on his coaching staff, Coach Mark Turgeon demands plenty from his floor generals, ironically the position that suffered most last season. And from Allen he expects both sound operation and dynamic scoring.

“That’s why I liked him,” Turgeon said. “I was at an AAU game one summer, he had 27 at the half and didn’t even break a sweat. Seth needs to score for us. He needs to do both. We’ll come down, go through our progressions and a lot of times in our break there’s opportunities for him, too. He just has to know when he’s guard and when he’s not guarded.”

That posed problems last season, when Allen would often try to split half-court traps with mixed results. Sometimes, the spry freshman dazzled, cutting between defenders and streaking to the basket. Other times, the defenders simply pinched Allen’s escape maneuver and the basketball skipped away.

“I’m going to play a lot of minutes,” Allen said. “Coming into this season I have a chip on my shoulder. I’m capable of doing it. Also at the same time, I’m more of a scorer. But I’m adjusting. That makes me that much better at my position.”

Last season, Howard would protect Allen from Turgeon’s wrath in practice. “Do the right thing, do the right play and he can’t get mad at you,” Allen recalled Howard saying. “If you set us up in the offense right, he won’t get mad.”

As of last week’s media day, Allen was still 18 years old, but he took the mentoring torch from Howard and now lights the path for freshman Roddy Peters. He tells Peters the same things, to simply get Maryland into its offense and slow down when necessary. They are the same age, but Allen considers Peters a little brother. He sees himself in the Suitland High School graduate with four stars attached to his recruiting profile and immense expectations showered from Terps fans.

“It’s not different,” Allen said. “I was always the youngest. I definitely matured a lot from last year. Last year I was joking around all the time. This year it’s more business. I’m coming in this season and I’m ready.”

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 | October 15, 2013