Much has been made over the course of the last few weeks as to what the Maryland Terrapins need to do to shore up the play from the point guard position. Six games into ACC play we have already seen Maryland start three different players (Howard, Allen and Faust) at the point with, largely, the same lack of success.
One of the other sites covering Maryland sports presented the argument that perhaps the Terps should look to Dez Wells to provide stability at the point guard position. This was, more than likely, in reaction to Wells dishing out eight assists against Boston College on Tuesday night. The suggestion was clearly hypothetical in nature but it got me thinking about the revolving door at the point this season. While Wells has proven to be a more than capable ballhandler who can make a spectacular play for his team, moving him from the wing to on the ball would not help the Terps. Since Wells thrives at attacking the rim and making his own shot, putting the added pressure on him to fill the role of the teams main distributor could inhibit what he does so well on the offensive end already.
Nick Faust was the most recent “answer” at the point guard position. Nick had played some point last season while spelling Terrell Stoglin at times and performed admirably at the position when given the opportunity. Much like Wells, however, Faust’s real value comes to the Terps from his aggressiveness on the offensive end. Faust can knock down a jumper when given an open look by the defense as well as attack the rim and manuever his way through bodies to get good looks. As I believe with Wells, it would hurt the Terps more so than help the Terps to continue using Faust at the point when his real value comes from being a legitimate scoring option on the wing.
Seth Allen had his shot at running the show for Maryland as well before Mark Turgeon made the decision that he was best suited playing off of the ball. I agree with Turgeon wholeheartedly on this one as Allen certainly has the ability to play the point if necessary but his game makes it clear that he is a scoring guard. Much like with Wells and Faust, playing him on the ball and diminishing that ability he has to knock down shots from the outside and get to the rim by utilizing his athleticism would not be the answer for Maryland.
What exactly can Maryland do to shore up what has turned into the most important position on any basketball team? This will probably not be the popular opinion, but Pe’Shon Howard should be the starting point guard for this team going forward, starting with this Saturday afternoon when the Terps travel to Durham, NC. Pe’Shon has certainly struggled his fair share as he comes back from the knee injury that forced him to miss the bulk of the 2011-2012 season, but the fact remains he is the only true, scholarship level, point guard on this team.
In forcing shooting guards to run the offense, the Terps are making offensive assets less valuable by making them play the game in a different way than what has gotten them to this point in their careers. Faust, Wells and Allen are scorers first, distributors second; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that mentality. All three are very effective at what they do, and Terps fans have seen this as the season has continued on.
Some of you may point to turnovers as a reason for why Pe’Shon should be shunned to the bench in favor of a lineup consisting of swingmen in the backcourt. Turnovers, while they have been a bit of an issue for Howard, have been a killer for every member of the backcourt in this discussion. In fact, Wells leads the team in turnovers per game while Allen and Faust rank 2nd and 4th on that same list respectively for Maryland. Howard’s turning the ball over at a rate of 2.1 times per contest, but he is also far and away the leader in the clubhouse in assists, averaging 4.6 per game. No one else on Maryland’s roster can even come close to boasting the assist/turnover ratio Howard has had this year.
While his offensive game has been, for lack of a better term, offensive at times since the start of league play, benching Howard in favor of moving another guard out of position just hasn’t proven to be the answer this team is searching for. That is not the way Howard’s confidence in his game, as well as in his surgically repaired knee, will rise to the level that Terps fans had been accustomed to seeing from him. As his confidence and health continue to improve every time he gets on the floor, I would expect to see a much more effective Pe’Shon Howard come early March when the stakes are raised.
Quite frankly, it doesn’t make a difference to me one way or another whether Howard is scoring the basketball for Maryland or not. The Terps have more than enough players on this roster who are capable of putting the ball in the bucket. What Maryland needs is someone to facilitate those scoring plays for the Terps playmakers and, for my money, there isn’t a player on this roster that could do the job better than Pe’Shon Howard.
Agree with me or disagree with me, the fact remains that the changes Turgeon has made to try and address this issue have proved to be ineffective in promoting any sort of consistent production from that position. Pe’Shon Howard is Maryland’s one true point guard and Roddy Peters won’t be walking through those Comcast Center doors until next fall. The best course of action, at least in this writers opinion, would be to ride with Howard and his better than 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.