Image Credit: The Free Lance-Star
This week, Maryland Terrapins men’s basketball fans were hit with some very unexpected and very disappointing news: star point guard Seth Allen is leaving the program and will transfer to a different school for next season. Fans were fairly indifferent towards losing Nick Faust, Roddy Peters, and Shaquille Cleare. Those three players were projected to be reserves for the 2014-15 season. But fans were excited about having a healthy Seth Allen on the court for a full season, especially after his monster finish to 2013-14. But the program must move on. They must replace these four departed players. So let’s look at what exactly they’re losing, and how they might possibly replace them.
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The first category I’d like to look at is scoring. With Seth Allen being added to the list of transfers, the amount of scoring that the Terps are losing became a lot higher. He was the Terps’ best three-point shooter, and his driving ability led to some easy shots for him around the rim.
|Points/Game (Rank on Team)||Seth Allen||Nick Faust||Roddy Peters||Shaquille Cleare|
|13.4 (2nd)||9.4 (5th)||4.1 (7th)||3.0 (8th)|
As seen here, the Terps are losing half of their Top 8 scorers from 2013-14 and two of their Top 5 scorers. Combined, the team is losing 29.9 points per game. Obviously, players like Dez Wells and Jake Layman are going to have to step up and try to eat up the majority of that number.
Seth Allen will be replaced by true freshman Melo Trimble, a 4-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American. He is one of the best scorers in the country, and has very good range from beyond the arc. He likely won’t be able to average 13.4 points per game, but the Terps need him to be one of their top scorers by the time the season is over.
Nick Faust’s replacement is unclear, but it will likely come from either Dion Wiley or Jared Nickens. Both are true freshmen who can play either shooting guard or small forward. They also have very good scoring ability, as do most of Mark Turgeon’s recruits. Wiley is two inches shorter than Nickens at 6’4″, but has the better shooting ability of the two. Replacing Faust’s 9.4 points per game shouldn’t be a huge issue, especially if Jake Layman can have a better scoring season this year.
Roddy Peters’ replacement is also unclear, as the Terps don’t have a clear-cut backup point guard. If the roster stays as it is right now (which is unlikely), Dez Wells would likely serve as the backup point guard. The Terps are aggressively recruiting IUPUI transfer Ian Chiles, who would immediately slot in as the backup to Melo Trimble. Terps fans certainly hope that Chiles chooses Maryland, as Dez Wells is not a true point guard, and struggles with ball control when he is asked to distribute from the point. From a scoring standpoint however, replacing Peters’ 4.1 points per game shouldn’t be a big problem.
Shaquille Cleare’s minutes will be given to a variety of different players, as the Terps’ center position is very unclear as of now. Charles Mitchell, Damonte Dodd, Jonathan Graham, Trayvon Reed, and Michal Cekovsky will all be competing for minutes down low, and most of them have a chance to win the job. Either way, replacing Cleare’s 3.0 points per game shouldn’t be an issue at all.
Turnovers have been a huge issue for the Terps under Mark Turgeon, and the numbers have never really improved from year to year. For now, I’d like to focus on the turnovers from the point guard position. When Seth Allen went down with an injury before last season began, Dez Wells took over as the team’s starting point guard. It wasn’t pretty. He struggled mightily with distribution, and his court vision simply wasn’t good enough to have him running the point. Therefore, Mark Turgeon leant more heavily on players like Roddy Peters and Varun Ram, whose inexperience showed itself more times than he had hoped. Luckily, Seth Allen’s return brought with it a more efficient point guard. The graph below illustrates Dez Wells’ and Seth Allen’s turnovers per game last season.
The blue values illustrate Dez Wells’ turnovers per game, while the green values illustrate Seth Allen’s turnover rate. The blue line illustrates Dez Wells’ average turnover rate. As you can see, Wells’ average turnover rate goes down once Seth Allen returns. While it is only a slight change, you must pair that with the fact that Seth Allen commits fewer turnovers at the point than Wells.
This is one of the more underrated parts of Seth Allen’s game. He is very efficient and smart with the basketball, making him even more valuable to a team. The Terps will certainly miss this part of his game, as I doubt Melo Trimble can match Allen’s distribution ability as a true freshman.
Free Throw Shooting
Another area where the Terps have consistently struggled is free throw shooting. As a team, they averaged 67.9% from the line last season, an absolutely horrid number. While that number is bad, the team is losing two of its better free throw shooters in Seth Allen and Nick Faust. Allen shot 74.5% from the line, while Faust shot 73.1%. While those numbers may not look very good, they were two of just five players on the team last season to shoot above 70% (Dez Wells was the only player to shoot above 75%).
These numbers obviously have to get better across the board, but the fact remains that the Terps are losing two of their five best free throw shooters. Mark Turgeon certainly hopes that his incoming freshman class can shoot free throws as well as they can shoot three-pointers. Unfortunately, that hasn’t exactly been the case for most of his other recruits.
Lastly, we will discuss the topic of minutes. Basketball analysts love to go over how many minutes they think specific players can or will get in an upcoming season. I’m not going to do that. What I will do is present these numbers and attempt to analyze them without simply doling out minutes to incoming freshmen.
|Minutes per Game (Rank on team)||Seth Allen||Nick Faust||Roddy Peters||Shaquille Cleare|
|29.7 (3rd)||27.4 (5th)||15.1 (7th)||13.8 (8th)|
As you can see, there is obviously a direct correlation between minutes played per game and points scored per game. The only player with a different rank on the team for each statistic is Seth Allen, who was 2nd on the team in points per game, but 3rd on the team in minutes per game (likely brought down by the smaller number of minutes he played when first coming off of his injury). Replacing two players who each averaged above 25 minutes per game is going to be tough. We all know that Melo Trimble will need to be able to handle a lot in his first season, and the jury is still out on whether or not he is up to the task.
Replacing Nick Faust’s minutes will be tough as well. While he was a very inconsistent player when he was on the court, he did eat up a lot of minutes, and was the best on the team at forcing turnovers (1.2 steals per game). As I mentioned above, he will likely be replaced by Dion Wiley and Jared Nickens. These two players will need to be ready to take on a large chunk of minutes in their first season. Whether or not they can handle that is still yet to be seen.
As we can see, the Terps are losing a lot with these four players deciding to leave the program. Most of the players who will be tasked with replacing them are true freshmen with no collegiate basketball experience. While Mark Turgeon’s recruiting classes have ranked highly in the past, there is concern about a lot of those players underperforming on the court. This is Turgeon’s best recruiting class in his time in College Park, so there is still hope for this season despite the departure of some talented players. These new recruits will need to capitalize on their talent immediately in order for the Terps to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament this season.