Baltimore Sun staffers Don Markus, Chris Korman and Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Will Nick Faust’s experience playing on an overseas tour recently help him develop his game for the Terps next season?
Don Markus: By the end of his freshman year in College Park, the former City star was one of Mark Turgeon’s most consistent and all-around players. Just as incoming freshman Jake Layman benefited from making the U-18 national team this summer, Faust certainly will be helped by his experience playing on a summer college all-star team that played three games in a tournament in Estonia last week.
While the team lost two of three games against Eastern European competition that included a few NBA players and draft picks, Faust had a couple of breakout performances. The team’s only victory, in double overtime against a team from the Republic of Georgia, was highlighted by Faust’s 35 points (plus seven rebounds and four assists), including a long 3-pointer in the waning seconds that pushed a two-point lead to five.
I think it’s important for Faust to get into the same scoring mentality that he had in high school, since he clearly will be Turgeon’s go-to guy early in the season as the six freshmen, including Layman and top recruit Shaquille Cleare, acclimate themselves to the college game. Faust was often the third or fourth option for the Terps last season when Terrell Stoglin was usually the first and second and sometimes even third option.
Guy Rancourt, who started taking the Eastern All-Stars overseas seven years ago, said that he didn’t need Faust to run the point with players such as Quinn Cook of Duke and Juwan Staten of West Virginia, but that he sometimes used Faust in isolation and pick-and-roll sets to let him create his own shot. Faust, at 19 points per game, was the team's second-leading scorer behind Cook, who averaged 22. Rancourt, a former Florida State assistant who is now the head coach at Division III Lycoming, said that most of Faust’s points came off pull-up midrange jumpers “off dribble penetration” or 3s.
“He didn’t get to the rim that much,” Rancourt said Thursday. “He had a little trouble adjusting to the physicality of the European game. A lot of the guys he played against were 6-7 and over 200 pounds. But there’s no doubt he has a lot of confidence in his abilities, not in a cocky way. He believes he’s going to score every time he shoots.”
Sounds like someone who is no longer in College Park, and not by his own choice. But just as Stoglin fought Turgeon nearly until the last few weeks of the season, Faust bought into everything the first-year Maryland coach was trying to get him to do. He went from being a mostly unsuccessful outside shooter early in the season to a steady scorer as a slasher. He went from playing admittedly no defense in high school to being Maryland’s best off-the-ball defender.
Rancourt said that Faust was very sound defensively, and was even used as an inside wing on the back end of a zone when the Eastern All-Stars went to a smaller, quicker lineup. From Rancourt’s description, it doesn’t appear that Faust has changed his less-than-textbook shooting mechanics, and fans in Estonia saw the same over-the-rainbow jumper that Faust displayed often at Comcast Center.
His game-winner against the Republic of Georgia, which included Brooklyn Nets signee Tornike Shenalia, was reminiscent of some of the long 3s he made last season.
“That ball was up there for a long time,” Rancourt said. “It was an impressive shot.”
Hopefully Faust will have a better – and healthier – sophomore year than the last Maryland player whom Rancourt took on his team. Pe’Shon Howard, who lost a majority of the season to a broken foot in preseason practice and then torn knee ligaments during a practice midway through, played on the Eastern All-Stars last summer. Rancourt said that he took former Terp Landon Milbourne overseas on one of the first tours.
“All those kids did a great job,” Rancourt said. “Nick was a real difference maker.”
Turgeon will need the same kind of performance from the 6-6 swingman next season
This recent Gary Parrish article seems to indicate Under Armour may be doing something untoward in an effort to lure players to Maryland. Should Terps fans be worried/a little bit ashamed?
Chris Korman: In case you missed it, Parrish, an esteemed national college basketball writer for CBS, did what most national college basketball writers do in the days following the July recruiting period and tried to assess the state of summer basketball and its relationship to recruiting. He concluded, quite rationally, that it’s pretty much the same cesspool that it has been for quite some time.