Through ten games the Maryland Terrapins have turned the ball over on nearly 20% of their possessions, but in their 66-62 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday afternoon Mark Turgeon’s squad finished with just nine turnovers. Freshman Roddy Peters (five assists, three turnovers) has become more comfortable as the starting point guard, and both Nick Faust (five assists, two turnovers) and Evan Smotrycz (four assists, one turnover) were effective distributors against the Owls as well.
But there’s still a piece missing, and that is sophomore Seth Allen. Allen averaged 7.8 points and 2.3 assists per game as a freshman, and he was expected to be the one running the show when practice began. But Allen broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during a practice, meaning that the Terrapins would be without him for 8-10 weeks.
On Saturday Turgeon stated that Allen, who is six weeks into his rehab process, remains on track for a return when Maryland dives back into ACC play according to Daniel Martin of CSN Baltimore.
Allen, who has been out since early November after undergoing surgery to repair a broken foot, underwent an X-ray on Thursday to assess his progress. Coach Mark Turgeon said on Friday that the timeline for his return remains the same as what it was when the procedure took place.
That’s good news for Maryland, which can certainly use some additional depth at the point. In addition to Peters the Terrapins started Dez Wells at the point and have even used Varun Ram in spot duty at the position. And when under control, Faust can help them in the distribution department as well. But Allen’s presence gives Maryland a player whose primary skill is that of a distributor.
If the Terrapins are to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid in their final season as a member of the ACC, they’ll need Allen to be back at full strength when he returns to the court.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.