How can Turgeon, Maryland best utilize Nick Faust?

How can Turgeon, Maryland best utilize Nick Faust?
December 5, 2013, 11:30 am
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Turgeon: "We didn't make shots tonight"

(Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)

After Maryland forced a turnover on Ohio State’s first possession of the game, the fast break started in the other directon for the Terrapins. Junior guard Nick Faust attacked the rim after being fed a pass in a position to score.

A jump-stop and pull-up jumper might have done the trick, but Ohio State guard Aaron Craft slid underneath Faust as he wildly flew toward the rim. Whistle blown, charge called, and the result was the first of 14 Maryland turnovers on the night.

That first possession would lay the groundwork for how the rest of the game would go for Faust, a 2-of-9 shooting night, including 1-of-7 from three-point range, for five points in Maryland’s 76-60 loss to Ohio State on Wednesday night.

[RELATED: Analysis of Maryland's 76-60 loss to Ohio State on Thursday]

It also highlighted the two sides of Faust that we have seen over the course of the season. Coach Mark Turgeon said after Maryland’s season-opening loss to Connecticut that there were times that Faust would hit shots and--believe it or not--that could be a good thing or a bad thing.

“His floor game is so much better than it’s been. In practice, he’s making really good decisions.” Turgeon said after the loss to UConn. “He was just excited. Hit a few, thought he needed to hit some shots for us. If he could take a few back, I’m sure he would. He’ll learn from it.”

That was three weeks ago and, to Faust’s credit, there have been times when that seasoned upperclassmen decision maker, defender, and shot taker has prevailed. But it’s the inconsistency that lingers.

Against Northern Iowa in the Virgin Islands, he was 6-of-11 from the floor for 17 points. But he followed that with a 1-of-8 shooting night against Providence. He was 4-of-7 shooting for eight points, added five assists and had four steals the next time out against Morgan State.

But that was followed directly by last night’s performance.

[RELATED: Coach Gary Williams honored in Columbus on Thursday night]

Turgeon said from the beginning of the season that he wanted to mold Faust into the team’s elite defender. In games like against Morgan State, he did that. What becomes problematic is when the offense defaults to Faust as the centerpiece.

His athleticism, especially after forcing turnovers, allows him to be an effective finisher in transition. He stuck to that against Morgan State and was successful. But in the half-court, shooters like Jake Layman, Evan Smotrycz, and Dez Wells should be options before Faust.

Once Layman, Smotrycz, and Wells get in a groove, it will allow opportunities on the perimeter for Faust and others. That’s when Faust can be most under control, effective, and efficient.

That’s what can turn an out-of-control charging foul into something we saw against Morgan State--steals and dunks in transition and the look-ahead vision to find the best scoring option in the half-court.

Maryland faces George Washington on Sunday.