Nick Faust is a player whose weaknesses are amplified by circumstance right now for Maryland. Prone to poor shot selection and looking to become a bigger part of the offense, once the snowball begins rolling downhill, it’s often difficult to stop.
Put it this way: Seth Allen is a guard who is wired to score. Allen, though, is sitting on the sidelines with a boot on his once-broken, now healing foot and will be out for at the very least three more weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair the injury. Allen’s return won’t fix everything, but bear with me.
With Allen out, guard Dez Wells is forced to play out of position. He, too, is wired to score, but more often from the shooting guard spot where his time is limited because of--you guessed it--Allen’s injury.
When Wells is able to move off the ball, it means D-III transfer Varun Ram gets more minutes. Ram, who has performed admirably given the situation he has been pushed into, is a scrappy defender but not a consistent option offensively.
All of these things do not play into Faust’s favor.
To his credit, Faust has done well as a defender and was one of the players who sparked Maryland’s furious comeback on Sunday against George Washington as part of a full-court press that was a turnover-forcing machine.
But on the offensive end, consistency is lacking and it’s often amplified by those above-stated circumstances.
“I don’t know what it was,” Turgeon said of Faust’s struggles against Ohio State before Sunday’s game against George Washington.
“I thought we all got a little bit selfish at times because we were trying to do it ourselves instead of doing it as a team ... Nick’s been good. He just had a step back. I expect him to play well tomorrow.”
Faust, at least offensively, did not end up playing well, finishing 2-of-7 from the floor including 1-of-5 from three-point range while turning the ball over three times against GW.
But that snowball effect also emanates out from the center. With defenses keying in on shooter Jake Layman, the rest of the offense has struggled and Faust and others have felt the burden of scoring.
“If we continue everybody else shooting poorly, then [Layman is] not going to get any looks,” Turgeon said. “All of the sudden Nick hits a shot, Dez hits a shot, we start to drive the ball … then Jake’s going to get more shots.”
“I think we’re about almost 46 [percent] for the year, which is not quite good enough. We’d like to be around 48, 49, 50. We worked really hard the last few days on guys doing their part of the play and executing their part of the play. So, we’ve worked on it.”
The more Faust becomes an asset in transition and a defensive presence, like he was against Morgan State, the better for this Maryland team. When his defense creates offense, that means high-percentage shots and easy baskets.
When he’s forcing it in the half-court, when he is likely the fourth-best option on the floor at times, that when the snowball begins to roll, helped along by mistakes by others and the circumstances Maryland finds itself under.
In his three best games (against Abilene Christian, Northern Iowa, and Morgan State) Faust was 14-of-27 from the floor and looked efficient and under control while averaging 12 points per game. Maryland is 3-0 in those games.
In the rest of Maryland games this season, Faust has shot 14-of-58 from the floor (24 percent) and the team is 2-4.
The Terrapins return to the floor on Thursday to open ACC play against Boston College.