Nick Faust did not look like a man burdened with additional responsibility Tuesday, even if the guard will likely play more at point guard than at any stage of this season when Maryland plays host to N.C. State on Wednesday.
No, this was a relaxed Faust, one quite content to take on a different job after more than his share of fits and starts during the first half of his sophomore season.
"When I'm playing point guard, I feel as though I just have to play smarter," Faust said. "If my shot is there, then it's there and if it's not, then that's when you get another teammate open. It's no different, really. You just have to get your team in the flow of things."
It was the right thing to say, of course. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon knows he needs to do something to generate offense for his suddenly struggling team. Faust played point guard extensively in two stretches last season.
Voila, problem solved.
Well, maybe not solved. But at least an option is there, and it might just have the added benefit of settling Faust down as well.
For all of the preseason chatter of Faust improving his shooting, he's enjoyed only a handful of potent days from the field. His shooting percentage is up just a tick and his 3-point efficiency is modestly improved. Only his foul shooting --- up to 75 percent from 61.9 percent --- has made a substantial leap.
It was easy enough to say a year ago Faust was adjusting, and perhaps there was a prolonged slump included as well. But after nearly 50 career games, it seems apparent Faust's greatest scoring ability stems from driving into the lane.
There were times in Sunday's 54-47 loss at Miami that Faust seemed to shoot for the sake of shooting, with predictably poor results. Later, he took to penetrating, only he wasn't rewarded when layups didn't fall.
If there was any takeaway from Faust's second stint at the point last year, it was an increased awareness of everything on the floor. Turgeon can only wish for a repeat Wednesday.
"That’s the hope," Turgeon said. "Nick got [eight] shots up the other day and maybe two, 2 ½ were good shots. He was good [Tuesday]. He wa disciplined today. He ran our team, made guys better, he defended and he led. Hopefully this gets him going. We’ll see."
Maryland (13-3, 1-2 ACC) will offer a distinctly altered look with Faust handling the ball rather than junior Pe'Shon Howard or freshman Seth Allen. The move will allow the Terps to have Allen, Faust and Dez Wells on the floor at the same time without doling out greater responsibility to Allen.
It will also change exactly what the Terps can do, which might not be the worst thing after scoring 73 points in their last 60 minutes.
"I think we're a little different with Nick at the point," guard Logan Aronhalt said. "I think we're going to be more up and down, working with our secondary sets and trying to get quick buckets. He doesn't know all the sets from the point, so we're going to be limited in what we're going to run so we're going to run simple quick hitters and try to get open shots."
It's not the worst plan, and it might just allow Faust to emerge from a recent funk that's included a dip in scoring and a battle with muscle spasms.
Faust's averages (exactly nine points and four rebounds) are right in line with with what he managed last year in more time. But with just 5.8 points per game over the last six outings, he just hasn't been the same player since Maryland returned from its exams break.
A change of scenery --- or, more accurately, position --- might just help.
"At point guard, you always have the ball in your hands," Faust said. "You don't have to force anything. You just do whatever you can to help your team and get other guys going. It's kind of different from the two. Instead of trying to make a shot, you just try to facilitate and get guys involved."
And if it happens to get him going, so much the better for Maryland.
"He had a great practice at the point because he wasn’t trying to shoot the ball," Turgeon said. "He was just trying to run our team. He wants to be a point. He wants to play there."
--- Patrick Stevens