It’s transfer season for college basketball, and nowadays that basically means fans and coaches alike attack the subject with as much fervor as signing day and recruiting. Naturally, when news broke earlier this week that the Maryland terrapins lost out on two big name transfers, Eli Carter of Rutgers and Vertrail Vaughn of George Mason, people started to panic a little about not landing a transfer.
If we don’t get a veteran point guard now, or another scorer, are we destined for another NIT birth? Incoming freshmen Damonte Dodd and Roddy Peters (even transfer Evan Smotrycz) won’t be enough to get us over the hump and into the NCAA tournament. Mark Turgeon isn’t doing enough to lure these guys. If Antonio Barton doesn’t come, we’re screwed. Seth Allen and Roddy Peters are combo guards, and Nick Faust manning the point was somewhat disastrous last year; the turnover issue will persist. That was more or less the prevailing sentiment, but that’s standard protocol when fans get bad news.
Still, I have more than a little reason to believe that the gloom-and-doom speak is more than a little premature. The turnover problem was and remains a major issue plaguing this team, so the line of logic that with the same personnel the same outcome will occur is relatively sound. Seth Allen average 1.2 assists for every turnover he committed, and that number dropped to 0.8 during ACC play. That’s simply nowhere near proficient enough for a starting point guard on a tournament team, and I’ll readily accept that.
I’ll also concede, and even encourage, the line of thought that adding another freshman combo guard in Roddy Peters is going to solve next to nothing and he isn’t the savior people want him to be. True freshman point guards, let alone players that aren’t actually natural primary ball handlers, almost never fare well in the ACC during year one; the exception being one-and-done guards like Kyrie Irving, who come in and summarily destroy anyone standing in their way. Do I think Roddy Peters is going to be that type of player? Hell no. He isn’t even close, actually.
What I don’t understand is why everyone is so quick to dismiss the factor that experience plays in making things get better. Seth Allen played very nearly a full season against some really, really, tough opponents. For a three-star guard being given the reins of a young team, he obviously struggled a bit. But to say that he didn’t improve as the season progressed is a downright farce.
For that I point to his 24 of his final 25 games before he got injured. I cut the number to 24 to exclude his eight turnover performance against Duke (even though he was an integral piece to that victory). Over that 24 game stretch, Seth Allen averaged a mere 1.2 turnovers a game. The number drops to just one turnover a game if I take out his other four turnover performance. What does that tell me? It says that even though Seth Allen left a sour taste in every observers mouth with his. at times, painfully inaccurate passing early in the season, he was actually pretty good as a freshman.
1.2 turnovers a game over a 24 game stretch is an incredibly acceptable number for a freshman guard who is playing out of position in one of the toughest conferences in the country; I defy anyone to tell me otherwise in that matter. I ran his assist numbers over that 24 game stretch as well, and he averaged 1.7 assists over that same stretch. Note that I’ve never once suggested Allen was a pure point guard, or that he was even a great guard. I’m just trying to dispel the notion that he’s a turnover machine and we can write him off now.
Then of course there’s Roddy Peters coming in. I’m not going to sell Peters short at all with his game; from what I’ve seen, he’s a better player than Seth Allen already. As a top-end four-star guard, Peters is on the cusp of being a great player, but with a year off recovering from injury it’s going to be incredibly hard to gauge his production. Given that it’s guesswork at this point, let’s just speculate that he’s completely healthy come season time.
If Peters is at where he was at the start of his senior year, he’s a definite impact player coming into College Park. He is a competent shooter, and has the size to be a very effective defender as well. Even super scouter Dave Telep said earlier this year that he hadn’t seen a player evolve so quickly, and that he was already an elite point guard. If that’s the type of endorsement this kid is getting, I’ll take it. Roddy Peters is going to have turnover issues, but that doesn’t mean he is going to be a slouch when it comes to ball distribution.
That’s a major reason that I think things will be alright if the backcourt remains only Faust, Allen, and Roddy. Nick Faust will be able to play off the ball (where he excels) while Roddy is on the court, because Peters is more than likely going to be an effective passer. When Allen steps onto the floor, Maryland is probably going to have to run a lot more iso, but Nick Faust and Dez Wells are both pretty good at that, too. You add in an improved Layman and sharpshooter Evan Smotrycz around the perimeter to catch kick-out passes from those three slashers? I think that’s going to resolve a lot more problems than it’s going to cause. The three ball tends to cure a lot of things, and Maryland is going to be far more effective next year in that regard, I’d think.
They do lose Len, but the guy who will be replacing him in Charles Mitchell almost negates the necessity for tougher entry passes (an aspect the Terps struggled mightily in) that the big Ukrainian required to be effective offensively. Mitchell mostly creates his own points through an unheard of tenacity on the offensive glass, which is a very good thing. It’s going to really help lower the chances of a turnover being caused by our guards feeding it down low. If you can’t solve the problem, eliminate it outright.
The bottom line is that without Len, the guards that we have can specialize more on kick-outs to (hopefully) an improved deep shooting group. The entire dynamic of the team is going to look different without him. I think having a lot of guards who can slash and kick the ball out is more important than ever, and we’ll be getting that in Faust, Allen, and Peters. Two of those three I have reason to believe haven’t yet reached their ceilings and will stand to improve themselves after a year of seasoning. Basically, I like where the team is at, transfer or no transfer.