Pe'Shon Howard may be the answer to Maryland's point guard problems

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Confidence is not something that Pe’Shon Howard lacks.

You have
to have confidence if, as a freshman, you inherit the number worn by
Greivis Vasquez, one of the all-time greatest Terrapins.

For the fans that made it to the Comcast Center tonight, the new No. 21 looked eerily reminiscent of the old No. 21.

With
Maryland down by one to the College of Charleston and under 10 seconds
left, Howard spun off of a Cougar defender before gathering himself and
burying a 10 foot, fadeaway, game-winning jumper to cap a 9-2 rally in
the final two minutes.

“I tried [the move] the play before and
almost turned it over, so Coach said be careful,” Howard said after the
game. “I didn’t want to take that chance. I knew if they backed up and
I had to go one-on-one I was going to try to attack middle. And then
when he cut me off I spun back and took a step back.”

“And hey, it went in.”

Keep
in mind, Howard is a freshman. Tonight was his second career game. It
was in front of a packed house. And on national television. Did that
bother Howard?

“He never flinched and that is hard to do for a
freshman,” Maryland head coach Gary Williams said after the game. “He
is a great point guard. I really trust him, and he has confidence in
himself.”

Vasquez wasn’t the only back court player that the
Terrapins lost from last season. Also gone is Eric Hayes, meaning that
Maryland entered this season without the two guys that almost
exclusively handled the ball for them for the last three years.

So
as you might imagine, the point guard position was the biggest question
mark coming into the year. Adrian Bowie is the senior. He’s started the
first two games at the point, but he isn’t a true point guard. Terrell
Stoglin has shown flashes of brilliance — including a 15 point
performance on Monday, the most by a Maryland freshman in their debut
since Joe Smith — but he has also had some truly horrific turnovers.
As a team, Maryland has 47 turnovers through two games. If they cannot
handle the defensive pressure of Seattle and Charleston, what is going
to happen when the Terps play Pitt next week?

And rest
assured, those 47 turnovers cannot solely be blamed on the Terps point
guards. Until Sean Mosley, Adrian Bowie, and Cliff Tucker start
knocking down shots, defenses are slowly going to collapse on Jordan
Williams — who, by the way, is averaging 21.5 ppg and 15.0 rpg — in
the paint. Front court depth behind Williams is a concern as well.

Which brings me back to the point.

Pe’Shon Howard.

Howard
is far from a finished product right now. He’s has tremendous court
vision, but still is learning that the best pass isn’t always the
fanciest pass. His jumper and mid range game can always improve. Like
any freshman tasked with handling the ball, he is going to make his
share of poor decisions. (Sounds a bit like Greivis, doesn’t it?)

But
what you have to like about Howard is the kind of stuff you can’t
teach. He made big plays down the stretch. He wasn’t afraid, as a
freshman, to have his name called in the clutch. He showed poise and
leadership under pressure, and maintained that poise and leadership
despite a couple of turnovers in the final five minutes.

That’s the kind of point guard play that Maryland needs with Vasquez gone.

After the game, Howard was asked if he has always wanted the ball when it really mattered? “Yeah, what player doesn’t?”

And did you hesitate on that shot?

“No, sir.”

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.