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Sports Terps

Faust plays key role in Terps' spot in Paradise Jam finale

— The transition to a different role is nothing new for Maryland junior guard Nick Faust. Ever since he came to College Park after being one of the top scorers in the state at City, Faust has been asked to give the Terps something that they didn't have.

As a freshman, Faust was asked by Terps coach Mark Turgeon to play point guard when then-sophomore Pe'Shon Howard missed the early part of the season with a broken foot and later suffered a season-ending knee injury. Faust had not played the position since middle school.

As a sophomore, Faust returned to his natural position as a shooting guard, but the inconsistencies of Howard's offense along with then-freshman Seth Allen's defense and decision-making forced the Terps to use Faust back at the point for different stretches.

Now a junior, Faust was supposed to transform into a shutdown defender, something the Terps lacked after Howard transferred to Southern Cal to finish out his career. While showing promise of being capable of filling that role because of his long arms and quick feet, Faust seemed hesitant to embrace the role.

Finally, Faust appears to be adjusting — again.

While his performance here in the Paradise Jam has been overshadowed by those providing the offense for Maryland in its victories over Marist on Friday and Northern Iowa on Sunday, the Terps would not have reached Monday's late-night final against Providence without Faust's defense.

Turgeon said Faust did "a fantastic job" against Marist's leading scorer, junior Chavaughn Lewis, holding the 6-foot-5 guard to 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting while forcing a few of Lewis' six turnovers. Faust continued that against Northern Iowa guard Matt Bohannon, who missed eight of the 10 3-point shots he attempted after he lit up Loyola Marymount with 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers, in the opening round.

Along with the defense, Faust helped Maryland overcome another slow start against Northern Iowa. With the Terps trailing 7-0, Faust's drive and dunk, as well as the 3-point play that resulted, began an 8-0 run to get his team back in the game.

Faust finished with 17 points — one shy of his career-high — and his lone assist on an alley-oop pass to sophomore forward Jake Layman resulted in another 3-point play to stop Northern Iowa's late comeback. Despite Faust making some careless mistakes toward the end of the game — when he was back at point for a couple of possessions — Turgeon was pleased overall by his performance.

"I don't know if it's his best game since he's been to Maryland, but it's close," Turgeon said. "He made some shots, he made good decisions. I thought defensively he really locked in and tried to guard as best he could. Nick was good, he was really good. He's growing up and maturing."

Faust was asked if he thought that was his best game this season.

"Yeah, that's what coach told me, so I guess it was," Faust said with a smile.

Asked about getting his team out of its early hole, Faust said, "It was good. I was happy we got a spark, it really got us going as a team. After that, guys got energy. Especially with a dunk, it really gets the team hyped up."

Following the arc of Faust's career has been something of a painful process. Though progressing well academically and on target to graduate a semester or two early, Faust's performance on the court has been more erratic than many of his teammates considering his experience of having started a majority of the games he's played in at Maryland.

Faust is hoping that Sunday's game was a starting point for both he and the Terps as they get ready to play Providence in a 10 p.m. ET start.

"It's good for us, it put us in a championship situation, which is always good for a team and it gives us confidence to bounce back from the losses this season and get restarted," Faust said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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