It was with much acclaim that Nick Faust arrived at Maryland, giving the Terrapins a homegrown swingman with length, range and a smooth handle — but not necessarily a floor general’s vision.
Yet for much of the Baltimore native’s first two seasons in College Park, injuries and inconsistency in the backcourt have seen him asked to run the offense from the point guard position.
The results have been mixed. But in Maryland’s 72-59 win over Clemson on Saturday, Faust looked at home starting at the point, compiling a season-high 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting. And for the second straight game, he didn’t commit a turnover.
“I’m just trying to get the hold of it still,” Faust said. “I’m trying to execute and running what coach wants us to run, and just do whatever I can to not get a turnover, to get an assist and get the guys going.”
Doing so hasn’t been easy for Maryland point guards this season. Junior Pe’Shon Howard has struggled to knock down looks, while freshman combo guard Seth Allen is a talented but up-and-down performer.
With four games remaining in the regular season and Maryland (19-8, 7-7 ACC) on the NCAA tournament bubble, Faust’s emergence handling the reins may fall under the “better late than never” category.
The sophomore’s success Saturday stemmed from his 3-point stroke, as Faust was judicious with his shot selection while converting a career-high four times from beyond the arc.
“Nick’s put a lot of time into his jumper,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “For me, with Nick, it’s step-in 3s, step-in 3s. When he steps in, he can make those. When he starts shooting those other crazy ones, he’s usually not quite as good.”
In Turgeon’s mind, the next steps for Faust are to work on becoming an “elite defender” and building that shooting consistency. Faust’s outing Saturday marked just the third time he has scored in double digits in ACC play, and the first in more than a month.
As guard-forward Jake Layman noted, “He’s been in the gym a lot shooting and it showed out there. It was great to see.”
When Faust and Co. are connecting from 3-point range, it creates space inside for Maryland’s imposing big men — Alex Len, Shaquille Cleare, Charles Mitchell and James Padgett — to attack the basket. And that’s when the Terps’ offense starts humming.
“If our backcourt is playing well and our frontcourt is bringing it, I feel like we can be unstoppable,” Mitchell said. “We can be a good team because if they’re shooting the outside shot, they’re leaving the paint open for one-on-one matchups.”
Such is Maryland’s inside-out strategy, one that Faust is largely trusted with operating — at least, as long as those shots keep falling.
He’ll hope that’s the case Wednesday at Georgia Tech (14-12, 4-10) as the Terps try to keep their case for an NCAA tournament at-large bid alive.
“Whenever you make shots, you stay on the floor,” Faust said. “So you’ve got to keep making shots.”