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Howard isn’t Terps’ only option at point guard

He’s still rehabbing from torn ACL

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Many of the Maryland basketball team's five freshmen and two transfers arrived on campus earlier this month, symbolically completing a massive makeover of the program.

Less than 14 months after Gary Williams' retirement, only two players who played for the longtime coach remain on the roster.

"When me and James [Padgett] tell funny stories from my freshman year, guys are like 'Who's that?' and 'What's that?' " guard Pe'Shon Howard said recently. "It's like 'Oh yeah, you guys weren't here.' "

For his part, Howard is trying to get back.

Perhaps the greatest question still looming over the Terrapins (17-15 last season) is just when Howard will be prepared to contribute after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Feb. 9. He underwent surgery 12 days later.

It ended an ill-fated season for Howard, who previously never endured an injury requiring him to miss extended time.

That changed with a broken left foot suffered in preseason practice, which cost him two months and Maryland's first nine games. The ACL tear provided another nine-game stint on the bench as a bookend.

In between, he averaged 6.5 points and 3.7 rebounds as Maryland's primary point guard. But his assist-to-turnover ratio declined from 1.89 to 1.16, and his struggles have influenced his approach to rehabbing his latest injury.

"It's no rush," Howard said. "We have such a long season. If I'm not [back for the opener], I won't be sad or disappointed or anything. I just want to get back on the floor, whenever that is, and be effective. Last year, I didn't feel I was as effective as I could be."

The arrival of freshmen Seth Allen and Sam Cassell Jr. and the development-by-necessity of sophomore Nick Faust late last season provide options at the point for coach Mark Turgeon, who nonetheless is optimistic Howard will be ready in time for the start of practice assuming Howard doesn't try to come back too quickly.

That doesn't seem to be a problem. Howard said he's settled into a routine of cardiovascular work in the mornings and treatment at midday followed by lifting sessions. He's also left determining a timetable to doctors and coaches, though he acknowledged his rehab has grown more aggressive this month.

Nonetheless, the injury prevents Howard from participating in the two hours of workouts the NCAA now allows for coaches and players.

"He's there but he's not there," Turgeon said. "He's on the bike when we're working out. ... He's really committed to his rehab. Until he's out working with our guys, I won't see the leadership and all that kind of stuff we will see. I know in the locker room he's probably helping and doing some things."

While Howard won't be on the floor for a while, he knows Maryland is a new team.

Part of a five-man recruiting class two years ago, Howard is the lone player remaining with the Terps after Hauk Palsson left last summer and Ashton Pankey (Manhattan), Mychal Parker (Loyola) and Terrell Stoglin (declared for the NBA Draft) departed this spring.

"I like to joke around and say I feel like a freshman coming into a new situation," Howard said.

Along with it could be a new start — as soon as Howard's knee is fully mended.

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