Seth Allen’s fractured shooting hand precludes him from expending energy on the court, but he diverted that persistent pep into promoting Pe’Shon Howard. A big-brother figure to the freshman guard, Howard listened to Allen jabbering in his ear all week before Tuesday’s win over Alabama. “Really, Seth had been telling everybody I was going to have a big game,” Howard said. “I told him to stop.”
Howard’s outing at Coleman Coliseum wasn’t exactly “big.” He committed three turnovers – one 10-second violation, one failed no-look pass to Shaquille Cleare, one bad pass against the press. He shot 1 for 2 from the field, and had a first-half layup attempted blocked by Rodney Cooper. As Howard slid to the ground, the rejection tumbled into his lap, giving Alabama possession.
But Howard’s one made field goal, his first three-pointer in six games, was the game’s biggest shot, according to Coach Mark Turgeon. With 4:39 left, he took a post-exit pass from Charles Mitchell, alone on the left wing, and sank the open jumper. Given the see-sawing that occurred thereafter, Howard’s shot, which gave the Terps a four-point lead, helped them keep distance from the surging Crimson Tide.
Allen never quite stopped yammering about Howard’s upcoming big day. During shootaround that afternoon, Allen demanded an exit price from Howard, of five straight made three-pointers. Once Howard made five, Allen said, “Well, that’s kind of easy. Make five more in a row.”
The entire game, as Maryland’s lead swelled to double digits, deflated down to a single possession then swelled again, Allen kept saying, “Pe, shoot the ball. Shoot the ball.”
“I said, ‘Seth, leave me alone. Seth leave me alone,’” Howard fired back.
So really, as Howard stepped into a three-pointer that, based on season averages he makes less than one-fourth of the time, he did it with a little Allen-shaped birdie chirping on his shoulder.
“Really what I was thinking when I shot it was, I just heard little Seth here saying shoot it, shoot it,” Howard said. “I just need him to be quiet, so I’m just going to put it up. I consider it luck. Oh and Chuck too. That’s all I heard. Chuck and Seth, right here.”
So what did Howard say after that big shot?
“I said leave me alone.”
With Allen almost certainly sidelined for the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden, Howard might be counted on again to step up along the three-point arc. He’s rejuvenated his game since postseason play began, starting with a season-high 10 points against Wake Forest, and has been counted upon to defend the opponent’s best perimeter scorer.
His turnover percentage remains among the ACC’s worst – hovering around 30 percent this season, third highest in the conference according to Synergy Sports – but his three giveaways against Alabama were his most since that seven-turnover atrocity at North Carolina. He’s also averaging three assists per postseason game and logged a season-high 35 minutes on Tuesday, Howard’s ninth straight start.
Still, there’s a lingering sense of remorse. Allen still travels with the team, grinning as always on the sideline, but with his left arm wrapped in a cast.
“I could have used him,” Howard said. “Just having another threat offensively. He would have done great with that pressure. He’s so fast, he can get in that lane when they double guys. He would have gotten a lot of shots up. He would have done great in this game. We’re happy we won, but we definitely missed him.”