When looking at the difference between the Terrapins men’s basketball team’s first 12 games, through which it alternated struggles with flashes of potential, and Sunday night’s 85-74 victory over Tulsa, it was obvious to see the impact guard Seth Allen had.
The sophomore broke his foot in a late October practice — 10 days before the season opener against Connecticut at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. — leaving the Terps without a true, experienced point guard.
Guards Dez Wells, Roddy Peters and Varun Ram tried their hand at running the Terps offense, but nothing stuck as the Terps couldn’t find the right floor general for coach Mark Turgeon’s offense.
But after Allen dropped 15 points, dished three assists and essentially changed the complexion of the offense, the Terps appear to be in a much better position with one game left before ACC play begins in earnest than they were eight days ago.
Finally, the Terps have the stable option that can worry only about running the point. Wells can focus on scoring points, and Peters can continue to learn the college game.
“Everybody was as happy as I was,” Wells said. “That’s a great feeling. I’m just happy he’s back.”
There are still a few questions that remain, though. Sunday was Allen’s first live game action since the Terps’ loss to Iowa in the NIT on April 2, so it remains to be seen how he bounces back for Tuesday’s game against North Carolina Central. He played 21 minutes — more than Turgeon expected — and became fatigued late in the game.
But when he was at full bore, the Terps offense clicked. Of all the point guard options, Allen is the most dangerous outside shooter, and he helped spread the floor with forwards Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman and guard Nick Faust. The Terps shot 40 percent from three-point range, and Allen was 3-of-6.
For an offense that has struggled at times to find an identity, Allen’s addition is only a positive. It gives Turgeon more depth to work with and allows him to work with more lineup combinations. Peters started Sunday’s game and alternated with Allen depending on the situation, and Turgeon said the two could play side-by-side as they have more time to practice.
Peters, who is deft at slashing to the basket, finished with seven points, one assist and one turnover in 15 minutes.
So Allen’s return — which was met with fanfare as he received an ovation on his walk to the scorer’s table to check in early in the first half — provided a boost for the Terps against Tulsa and is poised to have even more of an impact as the season goes on. Allen should get more comfortable as he returns to the lineup and get his legs back under him after a lengthy layup.
Before the season, Turgeon talked about how Allen was playing at a high level and how he was excited to explore what he could do with a deep arsenal of players gaining more experience every day.
Now, 13 games into the season after an up-and-down start, it appears the Turgeon finally has what he expected when the season started. And with Georgia Tech visiting Comcast Center on Saturday, it couldn’t have come at a better time.