Little besides the clickety-clack of laptop keys filled Comcast Center on Friday more than an hour after the Terrapins’ defeat of Long Island.
At least until Nick Faust stepped onto the floor for extra week.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Faust worked on whatever he could after texting graduate assistant Ryan Richman, looking for help to improve where he could.
The swishes outweighed the clanks, and Faust logged nearly an hour as friends and family patiently waited on Maryland’s bench, attempting to exorcise the sluggish start to his sophomore season.
“I feel as though I didn’t perform to my standards, so I just wanted to do whatever I could to get my game better,” Faust said.
And he did.
Amid Maryland’s unremarkable 83-74 defeat of Lafayette on Tuesday, Faust shed the out-of-control play and that defined much of his first three games.
This was what the Terrapins (3-1) sought, what they need from Faust. The points (13) were solid. So were the rebounds (eight). The outside shots didn’t fall, yet Faust was far more settled.
“Nick played with some poise,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “Everybody expects us just to be great right away. Maybe they don’t; I don’t read what people think. This is a process for us. We have a lot of young players. I though Nick played with poise. He’s not allowed to act like a sophomore. He’s got to act much more mature than that. It was, I thought, by far his best game.”
A fortuitous start didn’t hurt.
In the early stages, Faust collected a long carom off a missed Dez Wells dunk, with little but the empty post in front of him.
“I was relieved,” Faust said. “The ball came right to me and the lane was wide open. That was a pretty obvious play to make. I felt as though it was a free one.”
It ignited what would be Faust’s best offensive night of the young season, a clear hint of how Faust can function on good days with a vastly better roster than a year ago.
In truth, Faust could make mistakes and poor choices as a freshman, largely because Maryland direly needed him as a secondary scorer, emergency point guard and whatever else was required because of its limited options.
It’s not the case this year, and there is some adaptation needed from Faust. Hence the late-night session Friday, anything to move past an individual outing as shrug-worthy as the Terps’ overall work Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about you shoot in that game, it’s how you respond to shooting in that game if you don’t shoot as well as you want to,” Wells said. “He took the right approach to it.”
In a meeting with Faust, Turgeon stated the obvious: The Baltimore native wants to score, just as he has throughout his basketball life. Some nights Faust will. Some nights he won’t.
Steadiness, though, is a more crucial component if the parts Turgeon has assembled are to blossom into something bigger, something far better than anyone might have anticipated when last season came to an end.
If an extra hour of work with only a few curious reporters are looking on produces such consistency and relieves some aggravation, then so be it.
“I was definitely frustrated, but it was just something I had to push through,” Faust said. “You have to get better. I had a bad taste in my mouth, and I just did what I could to push through.”
—- Patrick Stevens