Maryland Paradise Jam preview
COLLEGE PARK--Roddy Peters did not shy away from the spotlight on Sunday night. A freshman point guard playing major minutes against a BCS conference opponent in front of a packed house that included the President of the United States, Peters was poised and confident.
His 10 points, six assists, and just two turnovers--despite the loss--might have gone a long way toward solving the lingering point guard issues that exist for this 1-2 Maryland basketball team. Could his performance be enough to hand him the starting job when the team heads to the Virgin Islands for Paradise Jam?
“There’s a good chance,” Turgeon told the media on Tuesday. “I think it helps Dez [Wells]. I think it helps our team. He was pretty good. Pretty big environment, I thought he handled it great. He wasn’t scared of the moment.”
Peters is still best in transition where he is able to use his size and length to see over the defense in the scattered court, but his decision making and vision in the halfcourt is much improved since the start of preseason practices.
On one impressive sequence, he drove down the lane and split two defenders with a pass to center Shaquille Cleare who dunked the ball for two points. A few weeks ago, that type of measured patience might not have been seen yet from Peters.
“I’m starting to get into the flow of it now,” Peters said on Tuesday. “I’m starting to pick up the offense now, so I think I’ve been doing a lot better. I feel more confident in the way I’m playing now than what I did at first when I didn’t really know a lot.”
The biggest benefit for Maryland in starting Peters is not necessarily that he is running the point, but that Wells is now off the ball when the Terrapins settle into their offense. Wells in much more comfortable and effective off the ball when he can curl off of screens for jump shots or find lanes to get to the basket.
With Peters handling the ball, he is freed up to do that. By having the freshman at point guard, it also spurs a more controlled transition attack, something that also comes as a bit of a balancing act.
“Coach wants me to keep the tempo up, but sometimes I think I need to slow down at the end of the game, like, in tight situations,” Peters said. “But I think I’ll learn if I keep watching film I should know when to pick my spots.”
Peters is still deficient on the defensive end, Turgeon says, but is improving. Maryland’s perimeter defense as a whole has been weak so far this season and it is more evident that Peters is not yet acclimated to the college game when the team is on that side of the floor.
“Everybody is telling him how well he played, but there’s two ends to the floor,” Turgeon said. “It’s not like football, you can't play certain guys on one side. We’d be pretty good if I could do that...but we can’t.”
For now, though, Maryland will likely look at it from a cost-benefit standpoint. Yes, the defense is better when Wells starts at point guard with Nick Faust at shooting guard. But, at the same time, they’re less likely to score points with a lineup like that on the floor.
Through it all, Peters remains tight-lipped about speculating on the possibility of starting.
“I don’t think it would matter,” he said. “I’m just going to go in and wherever coach wants to play me, I’m going to just play.”