We’ll never know what exactly happened between Mark Turgeon and Pe'Shon Howard last season, as the Maryland coach and his former point guard each took the high road last spring when Howard left College Park and eventually wound up at Southern Cal.
While Howard said he was transferring to be close to his ill grandmother in Los Angeles – which helped him get a waiver from the NCAA allowing him to play this season – it’s pretty easy to surmise that he and his former coach were not exactly compatible.
I also think it’s fair to say that the Terps probably miss Howard this season more than Howard misses Maryland.
Howard is having a terrific season with the 8-4 Trojans, highlighted by the 6-foot-3 senior hitting a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime at Dayton this past Sunday. After a slow start, Howard ranks second on his team in scoring (11.9 points), second in assists (4 a game) and first in steals (1.25).
Clearly, Howard is having something of a rebirth playing a ton of minutes (30.6 per game, including 37 a game over the last five) under first-year coach Andy Enfield.
In two games this season -- a loss to Villanova and a win over Xavier -- Howard finished with 23 points, eight more than he ever scored at Maryland. He has scored in double figures in seven games, three more than in the 50 played under Turgeon and just two fewer than in his entire Maryland career that began under Gary Williams.
It seemed at times last season that Howard refused to shoot or simply had no confidence in his shot. He failed to score in 13 of Maryland's 37 games, an astounding figure given the fact that Howard had come to Maryland with a reputation as a reliable double-figure scorer out of Oak Hill.
What really stands out is how much Enfield has given Howard the green light to shoot. Of Howard’s 118 shot attempts this season, 71 have been 3-pointers. Though still not a great outside shooter, he’s already made one more 3-pointer (24) than he did in two seasons under Turgeon.
While it’s doubtful Howard would be putting up the same kind of numbers had he stayed in College Park, Maryland has really missed Howard on the defensive end. Regardless of his offensive struggles last season, Howard could usually be counted on to stop or slow down the other team’s top perimeter scorer.
That is something the Terps have failed to do this season, most recently in Saturday’s home loss to Boston University. Though Maryland did a pretty good job on BU’s leading scorer, Maurice Watson, senior guard D.J. Irving torched the Terps for 25 points in just 22 minutes.
This is not to suggest that the Terps would be better than their disappointing 7-5 start had Howard stayed. Or that Roddy Peters wouldn’t be starting ahead of Howard in College Park, with Howard moping the way he did at times last season after Turgeon benched him in favor or Seth Allen.
Given the start he has had at USC, and the way the Terps have not stopped many of their opponents on the defensive end, it does make many wonder what would have happened had Howard finished his career as a Terp.
But given the way things went last season, I doubt either he or Turgeon have given it much thought.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun