Seth Allen’s injury forces change for Terps basketball on eve of new season

November 2, 2013

(Associated Press)

In some ways, Seth Allen’s broken foot simplifies things for the Maryland basketball team. Coach Mark Turgeon streamlined the offense, removing the tweaks installed when his sophomore point guard was still healthy. Choosing the starting lineup, once a muddled mess of scorers, became easy, too. Dez Wells replaces Allen at point guard; Nick Faust, Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz open on the wing; and either Shaq Cleare or Charles Mitchell, depending on the matchup, mans the paint.

“Everybody’s going to have to step up a little more,” Turgeon said Friday. “We weren’t the deepest team in the first place, so minutes will have to be shared. Guys will have to play multiple positions. We’re used to it.”

Until Allen returns sometime around mid-January, the Terrapins will exist with an eight-man rotation – the six aforementioned returners and two freshmen. Last week, Turgeon reacted to one of those rookie’s struggles by moving Roddy Peters off the ball and elevating Wells to starting point guard.

Even before Allen went down, Maryland fans clamored for the immediate anointing of Peters, already a local favorite based on his success at Suitland High School, but Turgeon wanted to ease his star freshman into the grind of college basketball.

Now? Things will move a little faster.

“Roddy’s a tough kid,” Turgeon said. “He wants to be thrown into fire. He doesn’t want to be sitting on the bench.”

During the team’s secret scrimmage two Sundays ago, Villanova’s back-court pressure had Peters struggling. Turgeon considers the former four-star prospect one of Maryland’s top players, a dynamic slasher with impressive body control in traffic, so he needed to get Peters on the court. So Peters still plays point guard with the second team but also moved to shooting guard to ease the burden.

“He’s gotten more reps,” Turgeon said. “He doesn’t have me screaming at him all the time, which is a good thing. I’ve seen a totally different Roddy since Seth went down. He’s like okay, I better be ready. I better pay attention. He’ll be like most freshmen, up and down, good nights and bad nights. We knew after that scrimmage, when he struggled, I needed to find another point guard in there.”

But much like he did with Faust two seasons ago, Turgeon will leave Peters in through mistakes during regular season games, allowing him to learn by immersion. A mistake-filled preseason has slowed down lately, and on Friday Peters committed zero turnovers during practice, which Turgeon said “is probably the first time all year he’s done that.”

No Allen also means bigger, lankier lineups for the Terps, a body type really only Allen didn’t fulfill among the team’s guards and wings. Turgeon guaranteed either Mitchell, Cleare or freshman Damonte Dodd would be on the court at all times, unless a late-game situation demands putting Smotrycz at the five and filling in guards behind him.

Last season, until problems late in ACC play demanded otherwise, the Terps operated mostly with two-big lineups, rotating between James Padgett, Alex Len, Mitchell and Cleare with inside-out offensive principles. Losing Allen, Turgeon said, may necessitate a slight return to that.

“We might get a stop late in the game, but instead of running full speed downhill, we might have to walk it up, get a breather, be a good half-court offense team,” Turgeon said. “I hope not. I hope we can build some depth quickly with these young guys and be able to play the way we want to play.”

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 · November 1, 2013