On his team’s second offensive possession Tuesday night against North Carolina, Maryland point guard Seth Allen hustled down the floor, whipped around a high screen and hoisted a three-pointer. Seven seconds had elapsed on the shot clock when the attempt thudded off the rim, hastiness that did not jibe with the patience the Terrapins were trying to preach.
“That’s not a good shot,” Coach Mark Turgeon said later. “We have to understand that, and Seth knew it.”
Ever since Allen returned from a broken left foot before the calendar turned, Turgeon has instructed him to do two things on the court: play consistent defense and make wise decisions while directing the offense. But entering Saturday’s rematch against Florida State (14-8, 5-5 ACC), point guard problems have continued to hound Maryland (13-10, 5-5). While Allen has brought a measure of calm to his team, the position remains a work in progress as he continues to strive toward peak physical conditioning and his backup, freshman Roddy Peters, deals with confidence and performance issues.
Three days after his most balanced game in a Terps uniform — 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds and just two turnovers in a win over Virginia Tech — Allen struggled against the Tar Heels. He reached double figures in scoring for the second straight outing (11 points) but needed 13 field goal attempts to do it. And though Allen’s true nature tags him as a slashing scorer with a quick release from outside, Maryland’s current predicament — a 5-5 record in the ACC with eight games to play, having thus far failed to match expectations — demands more from him than simply points.
“Well, I think Seth’s come a long ways,” Turgeon said Friday. “He’s a little bit inconsistent right now, and he knows that, whether it’s his jump shot or his decision making or his defense. But he’s so much further along than he was a month ago or even two weeks ago. I think he’s getting in shape. Trying to do the right things. There’s a lot on his plate.”
Indeed, Allen has had to carry more of the load at point guard given how Peters has played. At one point, while Allen was still watching from a walking boot on the sidelines, the Suitland High School graduate was able to play through mistakes as a starter. But Allen’s return has given Peters a shorter leash. Over the past six games, he has played just 51 minutes, shot 2 for 10 from the field, scored four points, grabbed six rebounds, handed out five assists and committed seven turnovers.
At times last season, Allen felt bogged down by similar issues, and he has taken Peters aside to help him avoid the slippery slope. Turgeon met with Peters on Thursday as well. “You’re the only one,” the coach said. “You’ve got to get your confidence back.”
Until Peters rediscovers the flashes of brilliance he showed during nonconference play and cuts down on his mistakes, a bigger burden is placed on Allen and fellow guards such as Nick Faust and Dez Wells. After moving into the starting lineup, Allen has averaged nearly 30 minutes per game.
“You’ve got to stay in longer. You have to play through fatigue,” Allen said. “You can’t make mental mistakes. That’s the hardest part, playing when you’re tired. You just have to push through and man up.”
In a way, more playing time can be beneficial for Allen. Seven weeks after he began playing again, Allen still has not reached 100 percent. The success enjoyed over the summer, when Allen starred during Maryland’s foreign exhibition tour to the Bahamas, has served as a benchmark for his comeback, but it’s also a reminder of what could have been had the injury not occurred.
“You’ve got to remember Seth missed a lot of basketball,” Turgeon said. “Hopefully he can become more consistent starting tomorrow, but he might not. It might be March before that happens for him.”
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