This week, Coach Mark Turgeon felt compelled to issue an apology to his starting point guard. Freshman Roddy Peters had sat for several excruciating stretches against Florida Atlantic last weekend, under the theory that his weak shooting would prove a burden against the opposing zone.
“Hindsight, that was a mistake on my part, because our zone offense was much better when Roddy was in the game,” Turgeon said. “I told the team that, I apologized to Roddy, he should have played more minutes. I learned a little more about Roddy and our team when they zoned us so much.”
Visiting Boston University will almost certainly zone the Terrapins this Saturday afternoon, and a productive Peters adds another weapon as Maryland schemes to counter it. Against the Owls, Peters could penetrate the top layer and dump passes into the short corner, a direct correlation to Shaq Cleare’s season-high 10 points, many of which came off easy dunks once Peters drew help defense towards him.
“I’m going to play the guys who are being the most effective [against the zone],” Turgeon said. “Roddy was really good against the zone. And he’s had a great week of practice. He really has. He’s taken it to another level, which is great to see. He’s got a tough matchup tomorrow. Little guy for them is really good. It’ll be a challenge for him.”
Spacing and ball movement are everything against the zone. Defenses will continue to sag off Peters, who has attempted only five three-pointers this season, but if he brings the fight to them, they will be forced to react accordingly. This, in turn, allows shooters like Jake Layman (45.5 percent three-pointers) and Evan Smotrycz (38.2 percent) to spot up.
“We’ve focused on being more effective in it, picking our spots, knowing when to make certain plays, how to get shots within a zone,” guard Dez Wells said. “Moving forward, a lot of teams will start to zone us, especially when Seth comes back, that’ll add another weapon to the offense.”
Peters wasn’t made available to the media on Friday afternoon, so Turgeon and his teammates again found themselves heaping praise onto the freshman. As point guard Seth Allen’s return approaches next month, the Suitland High School graduate grows more and more confident, having started two straight victories against Boston College and Florida Atlantic.
Turgeon defended his handling of Peters, who many fans expected to immediately slide into the starting role once Allen suffered a broken foot during preseason practice. But Peters was eased into the fire, starting games against low-level teams like Abilene Christian and Marist before his recent uptick in playing time.
“No he’s further along,” Turgeon said. “I think we did it right. I don’t think he was ready, Ohio State game, at Ohio State, I don’t think he was ready. But he’s a competitor. You guys know. Confidence is huge when you’re dealing with 18- to 22-year-old kids. Right now his confidence is pretty high. He’s playing well. It’s worked out well for him. Seth going down, it’s given him more minutes, it’s going to make our team much better come January, February.”
Said Wells: “What do you think? I think his confidence has grown. I think nobody thought he’d be this good this early. You never know how freshmen are going to develop and stuff like that, but Roddy’s been doing really good. His shot is getting a lot better. Once he starts making shots, he’ll be lights-out for us.”