Baltimore Sun reporters Don Markus and Jeff Barker and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three topics from the past week in Maryland sports.
Has Mark Turgeon lost confidence in Roddy Peters or has Peters lost confidence in himself?
Don Markus: It is often difficult to tell how Turgeon feels about certain players as their roles change, especially when their court time fluctuates as much as Peters’ has recently.
It is also hard to gauge how players feel about their game, or their changing role, especially those who are not in the spotlight and don’t talk to the media on a regular basis.
For a while before and after sophomore Seth Allen returned from a broken foot, it appeared that Peters was going to be Maryland’s starting point guard for the remainder of the season.
I even raised the possibility shortly after Allen returned that it might be better to play Allen off the ball and keep Peters at the point.
But since the 6-foot-3 freshman from Suitland struggled in the first half against Notre Dame, his role has been reduced dramatically as he became less aggressive and less confident.
He played eight minutes that night, and didn’t take a single shot. He played just 10 minutes at North Carolina State Monday, rushing shots rather than finishing plays.
It’s not just that Peters has gone scoreless the past two games; he seems to have lost his aggressiveness, playing as if not to make a mistake. His assist to turnover ratio is 1-1 for those games – one assist and one turnover.
It’s clear that his progress has been slowed by his inability to shoot from the outside, but Allen has missed 24 of his 32 shots in the last four games and seems to have regressed back to the way he played as a freshman by hoisting up quick shots.
A sign that Turgeon has lost confidence in Peters came Monday night when, with Allen struggling and in foul trouble, he went back to junior wing guards Dez Wells and Nick Faust for a stretch in the second half in Raleigh, leaving Peters on the bench.
Still, I think Turgeon needs to take his chances with Peters and Allen together. Again, that means Turgeon will have to make a lineup change and I still think junior forward Evan Smotrycz would better serve the Terps coming off the bench along with Faust.
Aside from the starters, it’s often difficult to judge who is going to play from game to game – or even from one half to another – since a lot of it is based on practice. Since the media hasn’t watched practice since October, it’s hard to get a feel for who is working hard and who is not.
Of all the guards currently in the program as well as the two coming in next year – Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley -- Peters is the only true point guard. There is certainly value in that, as Steve Blake showed years ago in College Park. All indications are that Trimble’s point guard skills have improved dramatically, and he can shoot it as well.
I’m not comparing Peters to Blake, who was gritty defender from the moment he came to Maryland. Nor do I think Trimble is going to be the point guard next year, but it seems as if the competition will be wide-open come next summer.
For the final two months of the season, I think the Terps are best when they are running and Peters is best in transition. If Turgeon has lost trust in Peters, it’s probably time for both to figure out how to get it back.
The men's basketball team desperately needs quality wins if it has a chance to make the NCAA tournament. What does the rest of the schedule look like?
Jeff Barker: The remaining conference schedule is markedly tougher than what preceded it.
That's good news in that it creates opportunities for the Terps – but only assuming they can take advantage of those openings.
Of the 12 remaining regular-season games, eight are scheduled against teams ranked above or tied with the Terps. Those teams include undefeated Syracuse and one-loss Pittsburgh and Virginia (twice). The combined record of those opponents is 30-11.
The clear message: Maryland must raise its game, and quickly, if it is to handle its difficult remaining schedule.
The Terps are 3-3 in the conference. The six teams it has played to date have a combined record of 16-20.
The combined mark of the remaining opponents is 34-24.
National signing day is coming up, but there's not much buzz on the Terps' finish. What's new?
Jonas Shaffer: Leave it to the Terps' biggest targets — and I mean that quite literally — to take the longest time to get to the finish line.
Offensive line targets Damian Prince and Jared Cohen (McDonogh) are wringing out the last bits of their recruitments before they sign on the dotted line Feb. 5, taking visits, stirring up hopes, leaving us all all waiting and watching. Fair or not, their decisions will inform Terps fans' views of this recruiting class.
-- If both decide on a school other than Maryland: "Well, at least we can't recruit any worse locally next year, right? ... Shoot, you're right. Forgot about James Franklin."
-- If only one decides on Maryland: "Sure would've been nice to have the other, though. Or an offensive line coach for longer than a week."
Several other lower-grade prospects are on the periphery, including alate-emerging St. Frances linebacker Nnamdi Egbuaba. But Prince and Cohen are the stars of these next dozen days, and so they're the ones that we — reporters, fans, coaches — will have in our eyes.