Welcome to a second season of Morning Shootaround. We will follow the Terps throughout the 2013-14 season, but in this space this year, we will provide a look ahead, rather than back. We will try to analyze Maryland's strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of its upcoming opponent. We also hope to provide quotes and anecdotes from practices to give some idea of what coach Mark Turgeon and his team are doing.
Here are a few things to look for as the Terps get ready to play North Carolina Central at Comcast Center.
MAKING A POINT
Seth Allen’s impressive season debut left some wondering how long Turgeon will keep the explosive guard coming off the bench, as he did in scoring 15 points in 21 minutes of Sunday's 85-74 win over Tulsa in College Park.
Turgeon said on a conference call with reporters Monday that he will wait until Allen gets close to the physical condition the sophomore was in before the injury, but he eventually sees Allen gaining the starting position he was supposed to have.
Depending on whether Allen plays point guard or shooting guard, it also leaves a question as to what Turgeon plans on doing with freshman point guard Roddy Peters, who has started four straight games after junior Dez Wells played most of the first nine games at the point.
“You got to ask Roddy how he feels, hopefully Roddy likes winning, which I imagine he does,” Turgeon said after the game Sunday. “As the season goes on, you’ll see those two play together more. But we’ve got to get used to what we’re trying to do here.”
Peters has played well in short bursts throughout the season, and he gives a team that often relies on the long-range shooting of sophomore Jake Layman and junior Evan Smotrycz another slasher to go along with Wells and Nick Faust. Allen is the most comfortable doing either.
Peters played 15 minutes against Tulsa, scoring seven points, and Turgeon said that he will continue to start the 6-foot-4 freshman from Suitland. I suspect that Peters will stay there as long as he continues to progress, particularly at the defensive end.
“Roddy’s a confident kid, and he’s gotten a lot better. We all feel comfortable with Roddy,” Turgeon said. “He had a really big stretch in that second half when he scored five points [in a little over five minutes].”
Allen, who has helped mentor Peters while he sat out with the foot injury, said they enjoy playing together.
“We’re really fast — we’re just running up and down,” Allen said after Monday’s game.
Turgeon has talked all season about building depth, but until Allen’s return Sunday night, the Terps had a difficult time getting much production out of more than one reserve each game.
That changed with Allen and junior guard Nick Faust combining for 28 points, and junior forward Jon Graham giving another blue-collar performance with seven rebounds, three blocks and three points in 20 minutes.
“We did a great job,” Faust said. “Seth came in and had a big night and a really good first half, he plays with a lot of confidence. Jon does all the little things to help a team win. I just try to come in and make an impact.”
Faust, who lost his starting job when Turgeon moved Peters to the point and Wells to the wing, has handled his new role with maturity. He has also played with more consistency, averaging a little over 10 points while still playing what Turgeon calls “starter minutes.”
Asked Sunday about his adjustment to being a reserve after starting most of his career, Faust said: “Coming off the bench, I just embrace it, I’m still playing a lot of minutes. I come in with the mindset to stay positive and do whatever I can to help the team win whether it’s an offensive or defensive presence.”
Turgeon benched sophomore center Shaquille Cleare for the first time this season against Tulsa, starting Damonte Dodd in his place. The 6-10 freshman from Centreville scored Maryland’s first basket on a pick-and-roll dunk, but finished with just those two points and two rebounds in 15 minutes.
Graham wound up playing more than any of Maryland’s big men, with sophomore forward Charles Mitchell limited to eight minutes after picking up two quick fouls and Cleare getting off the bench for just a season-low five minutes.
Asked about his decision to start Dodd, Turgeon said that after his team’s loss at home to Boston University, he recalled thinking, “I’ve got to do something. I tried them all in the BU game. The good thing is that I have four guys that I really have confidence in.”
For now, much of the confidence is focused on Graham, but that could change from game-to-game.
“I’ve just got to play the guys who are playing the best on game night. Shaq didn’t really get a fair shake tonight. But Shaq was tremendous on the bench, coaching, trying to help guys, never stopped talking throughout the game. That’s a great sign.”
Of Dodd, Turgeon said: “Damonte’s got length. He’s a shot blocker. I wanted to give him some experience. He actually played a little better than I thought he would play, to be honest with you. It gives us a chance. We get into the league we play big teams, we have four guys who’ll be ready to help us.”