Nick Faust’s debut at Comcast Center won’t soon be forgotten, even if it came in an exhibition game.
Faust hit a 55-footer at the end of the first half as part of a 14-point night, though he later departed with cramping in Maryland’s 89-84 defeat of Northwood.
“Either a kid has it or he doesn’t,” Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon said. “Nick’s got it. You can see that in his first game. He’s got it. He’s going to be great.”
And needed, if Friday night was any indication.
The Terps committed 23 turnovers and nearly squandered a 19-point lead as a weary nine-man rotation found itself worn out by the middle of the second half.
Still, Turgeon observed it was considerable improvement over the way the Terps played in a closed scrimmage against George Washington just five days earlier.
“We made big progress,” said guard Terrell Stoglin (23 points). “We couldn’t even run our offensive plays this week. Coach was on us this week and we were running a lot this week. We made big improvement and it showed today.”
Faust was a significant reason.
The freshman from Baltimore will be pressed into backup point guard work this season with Pe’Shon Howard out until at least January with a broken foot. But he also guarded Northwood’s Jonathan Dunn, who scored 29 of his 34 points in the second half – after Faust cramped up.
That work was overshadowed by a couple shots in the final minute of the first half. Faust struggled early at the offensive end, then drilled an off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.
That set up a heave that covered about three-quarters of the court, which swished through to assure the Terps a 44-31 lead at the break.
“Once he released it, everybody on the bench knew it was good,” Stoglin said.
Added guard Sean Mosley: “A lot of people are going to talk about that shot.”
Faust wasn’t the only newcomer to appear at a game at Comcast for the first time. It was also the only look the Terps will get at center Alex Len until after Christmas. The 7-foot-1 freshman, who must sit out 10 games per NCAA decree, had four points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.
For his part, Turgeon was frenetic on the sideline throughout the night, and at one point in the second half used his full timeout before expressing his displeasure over the Terps’ shoddy rebounding. But Turgeon was understated upon entering the arena, which was done without the familiar music and fist pump predecessor Gary Williams was known for.
It seemed for a while he would preside over a comfortable victory; the Terps led 66-47 with less than 12 minutes to play. But the Seahawks, coached by ex-Villanova boss Rollie Massimino, uncorked a 19-3 run and never entirely went away. Maryland didn’t entirely dispatch Northwood until Mosley (20 points) made two free throws with 43.9 seconds left pushed the Terps’ advantage to 86-78.
Turgeon noted afterward the Terps don’t have an end-of-game offense in, haven’t worked extensively on a press offense and struggled substantially with side out of bounds plays. With the season opener against UNC Wilmington looming on Nov. 13, Maryland will be quite busy in the coming days.
“I’m just going to overload them this week,” Turgeon said. “We have to move forward. We have to play for keeps in another nine days.”