Maryland coach Mark Turgeon would start the 2013-14 season with sophomore Seth Allen at point guard and bring Roddy Peters off the bench to help the freshman get adjusted to the speed and physicality of the college game.
Eventually, Turgeon would have to decide between the two, but given Allen’s ability as a player who could score in bursts, it seemed that the Terps would ultimately go with Peters at the point and Allen at his natural wing position.
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That all changed when Allen broke his foot shortly before the season began and Turgeon opted to move Dez Wells to the point. It also might have changed again over the past two games.
After Wells struggled at the point in the first half against Ohio State on Wednesday and then scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half while playing shooting guard, Turgeon said he was going to push Wells back mostly to the wing.
“Dez will play both positions. Late in the game, if it’s tight, Dez will play the point,” Turgeon said before Sunday’s game against George Washington in the BB&T Classic.
It was tight after Maryland came back from a 14-point deficit to tie the game in the final minute of what would be a 77-75 defeat, but Wells was not an option after fouling out with a little over six minutes remaining.
Apparently, neither was Varun Ram, the former walk-on Turgeon had called “our most complete point guard right now” the day before the game. Ram was given his first career start, but he played only 11 minutes after getting into early foul trouble.
Peters wound up playing the last 6:36 as the Terps made their unsuccessful comeback, which ended when GW guard Maurice Creek hit the game-winner with less than a second remaining.
In a 19-minute stint off the bench, Peters finished with a career-high 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting (as well as 3-for-3 from the foul line) along with three assists, three steals and two turnovers.
“I thought he just played. We were down he’s just playing,” Turgeon said of Peters. “He had that one turnover that was deflected and it went off Jake [Layman’s] head. But he did make some nice plays. ... I was proud of Roddy.”
As he has often done this season, the former Suitland High star showed both his inexperience and his potential over those final, frenetic minutes. But there would not have been a comeback without Peters.
If Turgeon stays with Wells on the wing in Thursday’s game at Boston College, as he should, he might want to consider giving Peters his third start.
The Eagles are led by 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Olivier Hanlan, who was the ACC’s freshman of the year and currently leads Boston College with 19.2 points a game.
Though not nearly as good a defensive player as Ram, the 6-4 Peters certainly has the height and length to get in Hanlan’s way – if he doesn’t pick up early fouls as he has done before.
Some compare throwing a freshman point guard right in the mix to putting a freshman quarterback behind center. But many freshmen point guards are getting big minutes around the country.
While Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis has otherworldly point guard skills – apparent by his 5-1 assist-to-turnover ratio while averaging 11.3 points a game – and Florida’s Kasey Hill (10.3 points, 4.3-1) is close, many of the top new point guards are being allowed to play through their mistakes.
The biggest difference is that the teams they are on have the talent and stability to make up for an occasional lapse by a freshman point guard, something Maryland has not been able to do all the time for Peters.
An interesting comparison is that Michigan decided to play Derrick Walton ahead of Final Four cult hero Spike Albrecht. Though Walton has been inconsistent like Peters, he should be ready when the Wolverines open the Big Ten season in a few weeks.
Walton is scoring 9.2 points in 25.9 minutes a game, and his assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7-2.4) is not that much different that Peters (3.3-2.8), who is average 6.2 points in 19.7 minutes.
Maryland's ACC opener – on the road, no less, in a game that is nearly now a must-win situation – might not be the place to put Peters in the starting lineup again, though Boston College's gym will probably be pretty empty.
The four non-conference games the Terps play between BC and Georgia Tech on Jan. 4 will be the perfect opportunity to let Peters play major minutes. For the Terps to grow as a team, Peters has to be their point guard.
Even after Allen returns.