Roddy Peters checked into the Maryland basketball team’s exhibition against Catholic on Sunday afternoon before a hearty cheer from a sparse crowd. After a maddening season with plenty of point guard questions, Peters represents what Terps fans hope is a more promising future.
The Suitland High School graduate may become a star in College Park – his coach, Mark Turgeon, certainly thinks so – but his present role demands something different. He doesn’t need to shoot, or even score for that matter. No, Peters needs to do exactly what he did during a 84-39 win over Catholic University: defend, pass and run.
“I thought Roddy was pretty good,” Turgeon said. “He really was. Where I was really proud of Roddy was on the defensive end, because that’s where he doesn’t really like to play a lot. He really concentrated and took on a challenge. That was better.”
Peters and Charles Mitchell were the first two Maryland reserves to enter the game, just like they will be on Friday’s season opener against Connecticut in Brooklyn. Seth Allen’s broken foot trimmed an already thin rotation to eight, forced Dez Wells to switch positions and increased the clamoring for Peters.
But Turgeon wanted to keep easing the point guard into college basketball, so after a private scrimmage against Villanova caused Peters to struggle, he moved Wells to point guard and started playing Peters more at shooting guard. The two overlapped little against the Cardinals, however, allowing both to maximize their times running the offense.
When Evan Smotrycz subbed out Wells less than a minute after Peters entered, it was the rookie’s show. The under-16 media timeout came and went, and three possessions later, Peters tried to split a high double team – a sharp move Allen performed exquisitely at times last season – but lost the basketball in the process.
“The thing with Roddy is he tries to hit the home run every time,” Turgeon said. “We are just constantly telling him, and he was able to do that in high school. He gets in there. He gets in too deep sometimes.”
But Peters rebounded. On one play, he beat his defender in the back court, twisted into the lane and scooped a layup underneath two more Cardinals. He finished with seven points on 2-for-5 shooting, but reached the free-throw line twice, had two assists and committed just one more turnover. He also played 20 minutes spanning both the first and second team, logging more time than any other reserve.
“He was better today than he was two weeks ago,” Turgeon said. “He had a phenomenal week of practice, so it showed.”