Terps hoops notes: Despite struggles, Mark Turgeon still likes point guard situation

November 16, 2013

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

As a former point guard, on a staff filled with former point guards, the Maryland basketball team’s struggles at the position continue to vex Coach Mark Turgeon. The situation hasn’t yet resolved itself, particularly in the aftermath of presumed starter Seth Allen’s broken foot, suffered this preseason. “It’s been tough since we moved here,” Turgeon said.

Until freshman Roddy Peters proves himself capable, or until the situation becomes so dire that Turgeon throws him into the deep end, the third-year coach seems content starting junior Dez Wells at a position he usually doesn’t play. Continued problems with turnovers sent Wells to the bench for 15 minutes in the first half against Abilene Christian on Wednesday, though neither Peters nor third-string junior Varun Ram were much better.

“I like our point guards,” Turgeon said. “I like Dez at point. I like Roddy at point and I like Varun at point. I like all three of them. It’s just decision making and turnovers with Dez. I think late in the game he’s really good at that position. Varun just can’t turn the ball over. Varun probably has the best understanding and Roddy’s just got to play with confidence.

“I like all three. They’re going to get better. I think it’s in better shape, even with Seth hurt, than it was last year at this time. I really believe that. You guys think I’m crazy. I think it’s going to be a real strong position for us as we move forward.”

Peters committed four turnovers in 22 minutes against the Wildcats, and through just two games has a 0.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Suitland High School graduate continues to show flashes of brilliance, intermixed with typical freshman mistakes.

“He was pretty bad early [against Abilene Christian], turned the ball over, then I thought the second half he was much more aggressive,” Turgeon said. “Made the right decisions, made the right plays. He gets better every day in practice. Defensively we just keep talking to him. He’s got a long ways to go defensively. He’s getting better. As long as he keeps getting better, that’s all you can ask. He’s such a good kid and he takes coaching well. When kids do that, they’ve got a chance to be good.”

>> On Sunday, Maryland hosts Oregon State, which starts 6-foot-10 redshirt senior center Angus Brandt and 6-8 senior forward Devon Collier, Turgeon speculated he might play a bigger lineup with Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare on the floor together.

“We have a plan of what we’re going to do,” Turgeon said. “I think you could see the big lineup for us. I don’t want to guarantee it. You never know what’s going to happen. I didn’t think we were going to be down by one at halftime [on Wednesday], but we were. You may see the bigger lineup for us, Charles and Shaq playing more in the game, but that’s not a promise. It’s a possibility.”

The Terps also expect to see some zone defense from the Beavers, which could allow Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz freedom to roam the perimeter and shoot.

>> Turgeon hinted Cleare may continue to start despite his slow start. His confidence remains high in the sophomore.

“Shaq was phenomenal,” Turgeon said about Friday’s practice. “I’m just telling you guys, it’s coming. He keeps getting better in practice. I’ve done this long enough to know it’s going to carry over. I just hope it’s Sunday at 6 o clock for him. He needs some confidence.”

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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 16, 2013