Maryland's injured and sorely missed point guard, Pe'Shon Howard, will return ahead of schedule and plans to play Friday night against Radford at Comcast Center.

Howard's broken left foot healed quicker than expected. The sophomore — an important component of Maryland's ball movement, depth and defense — had originally looked at a January return or even a redshirt season.

"We are a different team," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Thursday in announcing that Howard, injured before the season, would return Friday night. The slick-passing player probably won't start immediately, Turgeon said, as he works back into shape.

Maryland (6-3) has won three in a row but hasn't played since beating Florida International on Dec. 14. Radford is 3-10 under first-year coach Mike Jones.

Maryland will have 7-foot-1 center Alex Len available for the Albany game Dec. 28. The promising shot blocker — who has been practicing with the team — will have missed 10 games as a penalty for previously having played with a club overseas.

Having Howard and Len back should bolster the Terps before the Atlantic Coast Conference season begins next month.

Sophomore Terrell Stoglin and freshman Nick Faust have been playing the point in Howard's absence.

But it hasn't always been smooth. Faust and Stoglin excel in other areas — Stoglin as a scorer and Faust as a swingman with the size to play effective defense.

With Howard back, Turgeon said, Faust's burden will be eased. He said the freshman will be able to focus more on other things. Faust is big enough to penetrate into the lane and is a good offensive rebounder.

"This is so good for Nick," Turgeon said of Howard's return.

Said Faust: "It's a burden off my shoulders. I'm just focused on the 2 and the 3 [shooting guard and small forward]. I'm back to the old me."

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