Of the many storylines involved with the Maryland Terrapins basketball team this season, one of my favorite ones is the emergence of Nick Faust. For those who don’t know Faust, he is a freshman at Maryland who was highly ranked and recruited coming out of City High School right here in Baltimore (I believe he was ranked somewhere in the 30′s nationally). What all the scouts were saying was that he was a long shooting guard that score and score a lot. Unfortunately, for the most part of this season he was not the player that everyone expected him to be.
When I watched Faust for the first time and through the beginning of the season, it was through fairly objective eyes because I had never seen the kid play before and didn’t know what to expect because a ton of kids get over and under hyped coming out of high school every year. What I saw though was a tentative player who was not a very good and whose handle was suspect at best. Now this was probably a combination of a couple of things. First off Peshon Howard was out at the beginning of the season so Faust was forced to play PG when he is a natural SG or SF, he’s a scorer not a distributor by nature. Secondly, the obvious one that he is a freshman and has never experienced a level of competition like this and needed time to adjust. I am sure both of those factors played in to his poor play for a majority of the season, but even considering those factors, he did not seem like a kid who was ready for big time D1 basketball. While he did slightly progress throughout the entire year, he still wasn’t close to the player he was expected to be and then Peshon Howard got injured and we found out that he was out for the season and of course our next game was at the Duke Blue Devils…
At this point I thought all hope was lost for the season. I thought “oh no we just lost our only decent PG on the team, now Faust is going to have to play PG and he looked terrible at that spot earlier in the season when Howard was out and even at SF he hasn’t looked real great.” I even wrote something in the preview of that game of how we were screwed and how the game could be a disaster. Little did I know that that game would be the most important game of the year for our future and in my opinion what was the turning point of Faust’s career at UMD. Let me preface this by saying that I understand at the time he had only played 2/3 of his freshman year and had a ton of time to go and make something of his time at Maryland, all I am saying is that when he graduates in 3 and a half years I think we will be looking back to this Duke game and saying thats where Nick Faust’s Terps career was born.
Like I said though I expected disaster with our super young team going into the most hostile environment in college basketball against a top ten ranked Blue Devils squad. In that game as expected we actually got down pretty big (double digits at least) and Stoglin started forcing shots and Mosely wasn’t having his best game. I figured this would spell disaster for the Terps as Faust was our next best option. Turgeon decided to bench Stoglin for his terrible shot selection and we were basically throw Faust and Pankey into the fire and told them to do it themselves. Faust and Pankey both responded big time. Instead of the tentative and shaky ball player that I had seen throughout the entire year, I saw a quick, explosive, smart ball player slashing to the basket at will against Devils. Behind Faust and Pankey UMD ended up cutting Duke’s lead to 2 at Cameron Indoor with about 8 mins left. Duke ended up pulling away and winning the game but the way that Faust played in that game really showed me the type of player he could be. It was almost he was playing as a tentative freshman before, knowing that he was not the top option and didn’t want to screw up. Now though, he was the top option and if he didn’t do his thing the team was screwed anyways so there was nothing to lose. Fast ended up with a then career high of 15 points against one of the top teams in the nation and in one of the toughest places to play.
Even though the Terps lost that game, this really signified the game where Faust grew up and came out of his shell if you will. Being placed in that sort of environment against that tough of a team as a freshman when you are the top scoring option is the toughest thing he will have to face his entire career at UMD. That is the main reason I feel like he broke out that game and has continued to play better and better since. Basketball is such a mental game and I think before that Duke game he was just too worried about screwing up as a freshman, but once he was thrown into the fire he just had to react rather than think and with nothing to lose, he is a better player that way. Now the rest of the games must feel like a cake walk to him and I am sure he has the mentality that “hey if I can do it at Duke, I can do it anywhere!” and he has played much more relaxed and just overall better. To give a little context to what I am saying, in his first 23 games he scored in double digits 6 times. In the last 6 games (the Duke game being the first among this group) he has reached double digits 5 times. For most of the season I was pretty skeptical of Faust, but now I really see him as a great part to Maryland’s promising future and I think an All-ACC honor could be in trophy case before he parts from the Terps and I think when we look back, we will say that the Duke game was the start of the rise of Nick Faust at Maryland.