Allen, Peters Working in Unison
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- For a brief one-minute span during New Year's Eve's bout against North Carolina Central at the Comcast Center, Maryland fans got a taste of what it's like when two true point guards are working in unison.
At the 14:17 mark of the second half, with the Terps up by a dozen, freshman point guard Roddy Peters cut down the lane, drew the defense and found an open Jonathan Graham for an easy layup. A little more than 60 seconds later, Peters' complement, point guard Seth Allen, who returned from a broken foot and made his season debut just two days prior against Tulsa, turned almost the exact same trick. The sophomore beat his man off the dribble and dished to Graham for another layup, putting the home team up by a then-game-high 16 points, 46-30.
Maryland (9-5) would go on to win 70-56, with Allen and Peters playing no small role. Peters, who started the game, played 25 minutes and finished with seven points and three assists, while Allen came off the bench to score six points and drop a team-high four dimes in 20 minutes.
Though the two weren't always on the floor at the same time, there was about an eight-minute stretch -- starting when junior Dez Wells picked up his third foul at the 15:50 mark of the second half -- that both were in together.
"[Allen] spreads the floor a lot for us, gives us an extra scorer out there. He can do things right now that Roddy can't do, and Roddy can do things right now that he can't do," said Wells, who finished with 10 points. "Having both those guys on the floor, with either Nick [Faust], me or Jake [Layman], that's a lethal combination of guards out there on the floor.
"But Coach [Mark] Turgeon does a great job changing up the rotations, making sure everyone is in rhythm, so hats off to him. But Seth and Roddy did a great job finding us today."
Neither Allen nor Peters were perfect, but the two seemed to work well together. For the brief stretch both saw the floor at the same time, Peters assuming the two-guard spot, the offense seemed to flow, while the sets looked more crisp.
Maryland, lacking a true point until Allen's return against Tulsa, had suffered through long stretches of rhythmless offense this season -- and there were even periods during the NC Central outing the Terps were out of synch. (After all, they did turn the ball over 16 times, a recurring problem that continues to haunt them.)
"We feel a little more comfortable now that I got another point guard on the floor with me," Peters said during an earlier interview. "He'll help me out, get us a lot more assists too. … We're going to be playing off each other now."
That's good news for the Terps, because Peters is still just a freshman, and that has meant inevitable freshman mistakes. Since assuming the starting point guard spot from Wells, Peters has counterbalanced nifty drives and dishes with defensive lapses, fast-break layups with botched passes.
But with Allen back in the lineup -- even a hobbled Allen -- there's already been an evident uptick in Peters' and the team's performances.
"There's less pressure on everybody. There's less pressure on Nick, less pressure on Dez, less pressure on Jake … less pressure on Roddy, less pressure on our post guys because Seth is back," Turgeon said. "Seth can score, Seth can do a lot of things. [He's] given us confidence. … He's changed things, that's obvious."
Faust, who scored a game-high 19 points and had his best game since the Paradise Jam tournament, gave Allen plenty of props as well. In fact, Turgeon said one of the main reasons Faust was so effective was a direct result of Allen's reemergence.
"It's definitely a lot of pressure off having Seth back. He's a great offensive threat, and he knows how to get the team going -- and flow for the team. He gives us a lot of depth," Faust said. "Guys can just play. He did a great job just adding to the depth."
Depth: It's been a Turgeon buzzword all season long. After wins, after losses, it's almost a given Maryland's head coach would talk about the necessity of building his bench.
There's still a ways to go before Turgeon will be satisfied, but having Allen back? Yes, that definitely helps.
"[Play-by-play announcer] Chris Knoche asked me on the radio, Is it as simple as one more player? And I think it is," Turgeon said. "It gives us confidence, depth, guys don't have to play 35 minutes. I can take guys out, hold guys more accountable defensively. Seth continues to give us that depth."
Allen, though, isn't near his potential. Turgeon said right now Allen is adding more on the defensive end and with ball-handling than he is shooting and driving. The head coach went on to say his sophomore guard actually played better against Tulsa when he scored 15 points, had three assists and just one turnover, than his Dec. 31 six-point-four-assist-two-turnover line.
"[Allen is] not finishing around the rim like he used to, that kind of stuff. As Seth gets healthy the offense will get better," Turgeon said. "Hopefully by having these two games where he's gotten to play 20 minutes [each], and with a day off, a good practice Thursday, Friday, he'll be at a different level.
"He's probably three weeks away from being 100 percent, let's be realistic. … I'm hoping with a day off we'll get him close to 80, 85 percent by Saturday [against Georgia Tech]."
It wouldn't be fair to say Maryland's fate depends on Allen's progress, but he does seem to be the missing piece in the puzzle. He won't necessarily cure the frontcourt woes or solve the squad's consistency problems, however, he's given the Terps a needed boost heading into ACC play Jan. 4.
"We're going in the right direction," Faust said. "Right now in our heads we're 2-0, and we're looking forward to getting the win [against Georgia Tech]."
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