In the never-ending quest for alternative options, Coach Mark Turgeon has returned to working Nick Faust at point guard, hoping to provide some added flexibility at a position where the team is struggling, Turgeon said Monday during the weekly ACC coaches teleconference.
Faust, who played point guard during his freshman season while Pe’Shon Howard was injured, had worked out at all three guard positions this preseason. For some time, it appeared his services were more required along the wing, especially as both Howard and Seth Allen progressed nicely during non-conference games.
In the reality-check world of ACC play, however, Howard and Allen have struggled with their decision-making at the point. They enter Wednesday’s matchup against North Carolina State with a combined 3-to-10 assist-to-turnover ratio over Maryland’s two-game losing streak. That contrats with the stats of Hurricanes point guard Shane Larkin, who had 10 points, six assists and zero turnovers Sunday evening at BankUnited Center, eliciting rave reviews from Turgeon.
Having Faust at point guard, Turgeon said, could allow the Terps to play more scorers at once in an attempt to jump start an offense that set a season low for points in Coral Gables, Fla. against Miami.
“Yeah we talked about it,” Turgeon said. “It’s hard right now, not a lot of practice time, a lot of games piling up on us. But I know he knows the position, he wants to play it, and it’s something we’re looking at most definitely. He’s not scoring the ball, it can get some more scorers on the floor. He rebounds well for us and can defend. Talked about last week, didn’t do it last night, maybe one or two possessions I think, but we practiced it and it might be an option Wednesday.”
Turgeon singled out point guard and the power forward position as the two areas where the Terrapins “are not playing well.” James Padgett started in place of Shaquille Cleare (lower back spasms) while Charles Mitchell sat because of a disciplinary issue.
But the point guard problem has been more glaring. Allen is the higher risk-reward option, often mixing spectacular layups and steady three-point shooting with 2.3 turnovers per game.
Howard, on the other hand, is the more consistent point guard, except recently he’s just been consistently poor, especially from the outside (0 for 13 in three ACC games) and hasn’t quite been the confident distributor he was during non-conference games. He was benched against Miami in favor of Allen and has appeared tentative offensively, at times over-dribbling along the wing that only compounds the mistakes. Despite boating a team-high 33.1 assist percentage, his 32.2 turnover percentage tops the Terps’ 10 regulars.
By no means does this signal a massive positional overhaul, but adding Faust to the mix certainly provides one more option for an offense desperate to find a groove. It also gives Maryland added length on the wing, allowing the Terps to field a bigger and more athletic lineup.
“It’s not going to change overnight, and if it did, good,” Turgeon said. “We’re addressing it. We addressed it after the last game. We’re trying to figure it out. I do think that Pe’Shon’s capable of playing better than he’s playing. Seth is the same way. Seth has to score for us too, that puts a lot of pressure on him. But our point guard play hasn’t been good enough. It’s pretty obvious the last couple games. But there are a lot of areas that haven’t been good enough the last couple games.”