Mark Turgeon addressed the media on Wednesday, and as first reported by Daniel Martin of CSN, it looks like Roddy Peters is likely to start against Boston College on Thursday.
Peters, the highly touted freshman point guard, is set to replace the point guard by committee approach of Dez Wells and Varun Ram while Seth Allen returns from injury. While Wells has not been the worst point guard, his numbers are down across the board offensively and, by Turgeon’s own admission, he loses “half of Dez when he’s playing the point.”
Ram, meanwhile, brings great energy, but his negatives outweigh the positives. Ram’s energy ends up getting him into foul trouble early, so his minutes tend to be capped. Ram started against George Washington before picking up two fouls and being sent to the bench. He is also not an offensive scoring option, as he is one of the worst shooters on the team from outside and cannot penetrate into the lane due to his size
Thus, the responsibility falls on freshman Roddy Peters to get the offense initiated once again, and get Dez Wells, Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz, Nick Faust and the rest of the gang back on track. Peters has undoubtedly been the best offensive point guard on the roster, but what can we expect from a true freshman as a whole?
On the offensive end, the benefit will be immediate. Perhaps Maryland’s best go-to offensive option, Dez Wells, will finally be able to play his natural position as an off-the-ball wing player. Against Ohio State, when Wells scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half as Peters and Ram entered the game as point guard, he was playing off the ball. Without having to initiate the offense, Wells will be able to get to his spots sooner, as he is terrific at moving without the ball.
More importantly, Peters is the most creative passer on the team and has shown a quick enough first step to penetrate at will, allowing the big men to get involved. That was evident when he played against Oregon State; Peters drove into the paint quite a bit and dumped the ball off to Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare. Involving the big men on entry passes is important, but getting them the ball on short passes very close to the rim is equally as necessary. Peters provides an immediate upgrade in that regard.
Peters penetration will also help draw defenders closer to him and away from guys who need more space and won’t have to create their own shots, in particular Nick Faust and Jake Layman. Layman has been getting some decent looks coming off screens, but his feet aren’t always set on those shots. If Peters can get him the ball while he’s standing ready to accept a pass in the corner, his percentages from outside should improve considerably. The same goes for Nick Faust, who has shown a propensity to shoot from the corner this season (albeit without much success).
The downside is that Peters is a downgrade defensively on a team that doesn’t defend the paint well. The freshman is still learning the intricacies of help defense, and has a very difficult time stopping opposing guards from driving into the lane. If he is matched up against Olivier Hanlan at all against Boston College, expect Maryland’s big men to get into foul trouble trying to stop him from making uncontested layups as Peters gets burnt on the perimeter.
He’s also very poor at transition defending. If you watch video of the Ohio State game, you’ll notice that he loses his assignments quite a few times on the fast break which leads directly to big men getting back and fouling, and alley oop dunks. Peters will undoubtedly improve in this regard in time, but as it stands he is still very raw on the defensive end.
Finally, his turnovers will be a major problem for this team. Peters is a gifted passer who has shown solid vision on the court, but he is careless with the ball at times. His dribble is not the tightest bringing the ball up court, and solid defending guards (like Aaron Craft), can force Peters into poor or rushed decisions. He will push the pace quite a bit more, but Maryland will have a very hard time if his turnover to assist ratio doesn’t hover around 1:1 for the majority of the game.
In all, this transition to Peters as point guard comes at possibly the best time of the season. Against Boston College, he will get his first real taste of ACC play in a road environment, which will give him a lot of experience on the court. After Boston College, Maryland plays some easier opponents at home that will allow Peters to adjust his game and learn from his mistakes in games that will allow it.
It’s no secret that Peters growth is crucial to this team making a tournament run, and while it may be rushed right now, this is something that had to happen regardless.