Everyone knew the Maryland Terrapins’ point guard play was an area of concern entering the season opener. With should-be starter Seth Allen out due to injury, the Terps had no proven point guards on the roster. And it was obvious against Connecticut.
The Terrapins lost a nail biter to the 18th ranked Huskies tonight 78-77 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Terps were down until the end when they went on an 11-0 run after a Shabazz Napier technical foul with the Huskies up by 17. The Terps fought back and had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but did not convert.
With solid point guard play consistently throughout this game, the Terps leave Brooklyn with a huge win over a top-25 team. It is that simple. However, it just was not there. Junior captain Dez Wells started at point and was shaky running the offense as well as in transition. He got his pocket picked often and could not get Maryland into any flow offensively. Wells had four turnovers in the first half, which led to easy Connecticut baskets, but his inability to run the offense or be efficient in transition made the Maryland offense stagnant. He made some big plays like the turnaround jumper he hit in the final minutes to get the Terps within one, but he is not the answer at point guard.
Wells is as explosive as any player in the country when he is on the wing. He is a tough to guard attacking off the wing because of his strength and athleticism, but when he is forced to play the point guard position, he doesn’t have many opportunities on the wing. He is Maryland’s most talented player and the Terps need him to be at his best, which is off the ball, to be an NCAA tournament team. Playing point guard affected his play tonight. He was 3-of-10 from the field and could never get it going offensively.
I look for Maryland to hand the ball over to Roddy Peters and let the freshman run this team. Peters played 18 minutes and had some very good moments as well as some plays you would expect from a freshman in their first game. He had some nice passes when attacking the basket and looked comfortable initiating the offense. Maryland will have to live with ups and downs of Peters because they need Wells to better than he was tonight and moving him back to his natural position could do that. Peters showed tonight with time, he can be the point guard until Allen is back.
It was a reoccurring theme last year and will continue to be this year after the point guard play tonight. Does Maryland have the point guard play to be an NCAA tournament team? The Terps have no proven guy to run the team, but Wells is not the answer and is needed to affect the game in other ways. I look for a lot more Peters drive and dishes as the season goes on.