On Thursday morning, Maryland point guard Seth Allen underwent an operation to repair the broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot, the long bone that connects to the pinkie toe. He entered recovery at Baltimore’s
Kernan Hospital University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute around 1 p.m., and surgeon Craig H. Bennett told Allen’s mother, Deborah, that everything went just fine.
Now the sophomore will begin a lengthy recovery, his return to the court expected to take between eight and 10 weeks, which averages out to around New Years’ Day. So the Terrapins either will get their projected starting floor general back before the bulk of their ACC schedule begins in January, or sometime during its early stretch.
Attention now turns back to Maryland and what becomes of a team preparing for its Nov. 8 season opener without its point guard. Coach Mark Turgeon confirmed via text message that junior Dez Wells, inarguably the program’s face and its biggest leader, will start at point guard Sunday at Comcast Center in an exhibition against Catholic.
Maryland’s point guard play position received plenty of scrutiny last winter, when Maryland shuffled between options like a game of three-card monte. Allen, Wells, Nick Faust and the since-transferred Pe’Shon Howard all ran the team’s offense at separate times, but Turgeon made it perfectly clear that Allen would be the Terrapins’ floor general this season.
But that was before Allen landed awkwardly on his left foot during practice on Tuesday. So switching Wells to point guard both puts the basketball into the hands of Maryland’s best player and buys time, not just for Allen’s recovery but for freshman Roddy Peters to continue his smooth acclimation into the college game.
Wells operates most efficiently on the wing, curling off screens for mid-range jumpers and floaters. His 23.8 percent turnover rate (109 total last season) will bring concerns, but Turgeon says Wells has worked hard to improve his decision-making.
“I put the ball in Dez Wells’s hand a lot,” Turgeon said at media day in early October. “May not dribble it up, but it’s in his hand to make decisions for us. Dez turned it over too much last year. To me, it’s just about being a basketball player, making the right decisions, not necessarily what the position is.”
Peters, however, is unquestionably a point guard. The much-hyped Suitland High School graduate spent the offseason reforming his shooting form and recovering from winter shoulder surgery, but he’s most dangerous on the fast break, knifing through traffic and using his body control in the lane. Two public scrimmages have offered small windows into Peters’s potential, but like many freshmen he still might require an adjustment period. After all, his crossover dribbles and twisting layups are sporadically interjected by easily intercepted passes.
“He’s a good player,” Turgeon said of Peters at media day. “Now Roddy doesn’t get us into our offense as well as Seth does, but on the break he’s good at finding teammates and making players around him better. We will play them together quite a bit there too. I’m pleased with both of them. He’s on track to be a really good player for us.”
Given Maryland’s rotation, which is still eight men strong without Allen, the sophomore’s absence might only matter in two games – next Friday against No. 18 Connecticut at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and at No. 11 Ohio State on the Dec. 4 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, when even a fully healthy Terps team would have experienced fits from pesky guard Aaron Craft.
But Wells has demonstrated enough leadership and offseason improvement to warrant Turgeon’s trust under these circumstances. Besides, Allen and Wells are both score-first guards at heart, and the injury clarifies a previously muddled wing-guard situation, too. And if Maryland can weather this storm without its anointed floor general, his return in 2014 will bring an unwelcome surprise to conference foes that only have film of the Allen-less Terps.