Freshman Nick Faust wasn’t recruited to play point guard for Maryland.
He will anyway.
The 6-foot-6 Baltimore product will start at the point Sunday when the Terrapins open the season against UNC Wilmington. Terrell Stoglin, the anticipated starting point guard with Pe’Shon Howard out with a broken foot, will play off the ball —- at least initially.
“Terrell’s still going to play a lot of point,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “A lot of times on the outlet passes if Terrell’s right there, he’ll bring it. Terrell’s such a big scorer for us, he needs to score for us. I’m trying to take a little pressure off him running the team. He’ll still play 15 minutes at point.”
It’s an intriguing choice by Turgeon, who begins his first season in College Park with only seven scholarship players. Faust, who originally signed with former coach Gary Williams, was coaxed into sticking with his letter of intent shortly after Turgeon took over and is in some ways the former Texas A&M boss’ first recruit.
It wouldn’t be a factor if Howard, who is expected to be out until January, was healthy. But his injury last month forced some creativity on Turgeon’s part.
Faust was already going to play some at point guard, but the need to value possession —- something a volume shooter like Stoglin sometimes struggles with —- means the switch makes some sense.
“Nick’s really worked hard and I think he’s really enjoying it,” Turgeon said. “He’s a little bit more under control than Terrell at the point, but Terrell’s still going to play it.”
Turgeon said the one obvious downside to Faust playing point guard is surrendering some advantages in offensive rebounding when Faust slips back to defend rather than attacking the glass.
As the season progresses, though, the lanky Faust has a chance to mature into an interesting —- albeit probably a stopgap —- point guard.
“To me, Nick’s a multiple guy,” Turgeon said. “He’s really practicing well. To be able to learn multiple positions and do it your freshman year, I think he’s a very bright kid. I think he’s liking the point guard deal. As we go on, we’re not the fastest learning team, but we’ll add things for him. If he has the point guard guarding him, we’ll post him up some.”
In the near-term, Faust is multifaceted enough to make the positional switch work, teammates said.
“The point can be a great position for him because he’s bigger than a lot of guys,” forward James Padgett said. “He has agreat court vision, and he can shoot the ball and make the open shot so that would be a good opportunity. It gives Terrell the opportunity to move to the two guard and take the shots he wants.”
For his part, Turgeon seemed amused at the reaction of reporters after he revealed the situation after being asked about Faust’s ability to handle a backup point guard role.
“I know everybody’s going to make a big deal out of it, but it’s not a big deal,” Turgeon said. “It’s what we think we need to do.”
—- Patrick Stevens