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Sports Terps Tracking the Terps

Whether it's with their point guard play or 3-point defense, Terps need help quickly

Welcome to the second season of Morning Shootaround. We will follow the Terps throughout the 2013-14 season, but this year, we will provide a look ahead rather than looking 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 Mark Turgeon and his team are doing.

Here are a few things to look for as the Terps get ready to play Florida State at 3 p.m. Saturday at Comcast Center.

NOT ON POINT

The most consistent story line during Turgeon’s first three seasons in College Park — and a rather glaring deficiency in the program’s regression this season — has been a lack of consistency at point guard.

Turgeon hoped sophomore Seth Allen would quiet the malcontents among the team’s dispirited fan base, but his performance in Tuesday’s loss at North Carolina made the grumbles grow only louder.

After what many considered his best all-around game as a Terp — a 16-point, seven-assist, five-rebound, two-turnover performance in a 20-point win at Virginia Tech — Allen reverted back to the shoot-first mentality he showed as a freshman.

He finished with 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting, many of the misses coming on ill-advised pull-up jumpers with only a few seconds gone on the shot clock. He had just one assist and one turnover.

“Point guard is a hard position to play. Coach is always on you,” Allen said of Turgeon on Friday. “I just try to play my game. I know I’m not going to be perfect every night, I know I’m not going to find everybody open. My job is to get us in the offense, and making everything flow better.”

Allen has done that at times since coming back after he missed the first 12 games of the season with a broken left foot. He seemed to be progressing until he ran into the Tar Heels.

“What you ask out of your players is to be more consistent,” Turgeon said Friday. “You’ve got to remember, Seth missed a lot of basketball. Hopefully, he can become more consistent starting [Saturday], but he might not. It might be March before that happens for him.”

Part of Allen's problem is that freshman Roddy Peters is not providing much help as his backup. After starting eight games and averaging seven points — with 26 assists and 19 turnovers — Peters has a combined four points in the past six games off the bench.

Peters also has six turnovers in 15 minutes over the past two games combined.

Asked whether Peters’ struggles compound the pressure on Allen, Turgeon said: “Roddy’s got to get his confidence back and help us. Hopefully, he’ll be able to do that. If not, yeah, it puts a little bit more pressure on Seth, puts a little bit more on Nick, puts a little bit more on Dez. Shortens our bench even a little bit more. But guys just want to play. That’s the whole thing. … That answer it?”

A DIFFERENT GAME PLAN

When the Terps faced Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., on Jan. 11, the Seminoles came into the game having made 10 of their last 50 3-pointers. They proceeded to scorch Maryland for 16 3-pointers on 24 attempts, a team record for makes in an ACC game.

Since then, the Seminoles are 39-for-88 from deep, including nine-for-16 in Wednesday’s 70-50 win over Virginia Tech. Turgeon and his players know they will have to close out on Florida State’s shooters and risk getting beat inside this time around.

“To be honest with you, they’re all shooting the ball well in the league,” Turgeon said. “If you look, [Ian] Miller’s shooting it well, [Devon] Bookert’s shooting it well, and [Aaron] Thomas, he made six the other night. They’re all around 50 percent.

“You got to game-plan a little differently. They weren’t shooting that way going into the game for the year, and they got it going. And even [Montay Brandon] made some shots in that game, and he’s more of a driver. They all made them that night.”

Junior forward Evan Smotrycz said it was more than just Maryland’s lack of defense on Florida State’s outside shooters that resulted in the Terps' most one-sided defeat under Turgeon.

“We were just really bad at everything, really bad,” Smotrycz said. “We’re a lot better than we were. It’s just a lot of focus and just making sure we come ready to play.”

Smotrycz said the loss to the Seminoles still bothers the Terps.

“We feel like we owe ‘em one,” Smotrycz said.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING  

As poorly as the Terps have played at times this season, and as big a long shot as they seem for the NCAA tournament, the reality is that Maryland has plenty of games in the next two weeks in which it can better its postseason prospects.

There is also the reality that the Terps have yet to beat either Florida State or Virginia, which Maryland will face Monday night in Charlottesville, Va., since Turgeon arrived.  They also haven’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where they will play Duke next Saturday, since 2007.

Turgeon hasn’t checked up on any bracket projections lately. Nor does he plan on doing so any time soon.

“I just know in the league, we’re 5-5,” he said. “It’s not ideal. But it’s better than being 3-7. We just want to try to win [Saturday]. That’s really what we think about. I really don’t have time to think about much else when you’re playing so many games and preparing for Florida State, a team that whipped us pretty good last time.

“We’ll handle [Saturday]. We do have a lot of teams on the schedule that will have a number [for its national ranking] in front of their name. Gives you opportunities to beat good teams. Florida State’s a good team. We just want to play well [Saturday], figure out a way to win.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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