Through the first 13 games of the 2013-14 season, the University of Maryland men's basketball team was missing a natural point guard. Head coach Mark Turgeon tried moving junior Dez Wells and freshman Roddy Peters to the position, but neither gave the Terps the spark they needed.
Following an 83-77 loss to Boston University Dec. 21, the Terps received a great Christmas gift when sophomore Seth Allen, their projected starting floor general, returned to action.
After suffering a foot injury during the preseason, Allen returned to the court during Maryland's Dec. 29 win against Tulsa University. It was thought Allen would play limited minutes when returning, but that was not the case. He played 21 minutes and scored 15 points during his first game back with the team.
Since his first game back, Allen has continued to make progress toward being 100 percent. He played off the bench during his first five games and resumed his starting role during a home win against Notre Dame Jan. 15.
Following the win, Turgeon called Allen the team's X factor because of his impact on both ends of the floor.
Last season as a freshman, Allen showed the potential for a great career at Maryland. He made seven starts throughout the season, averaging 7.8 points and 22 minutes per game. Though Allen struggles at times with turnovers, he continued to improve as the season went on.
Before his injury, Allen had been having a tremendous offseason for Turgeon's team. The work he put in during the summer showed during the team's preseason trip to the Bahamas. Now, Allen is working to get back to his preseason form.
"He's not quite there, but he's close," Turgeon said. "In the preseason, he was in unbelievable shape when he went down because he worked so hard over the summer. He's been terrific offensively and defensively. … By him playing the way he's playing, we're a much better basketball team."
When Allen was out to start the season, Peters showed flashes of being a great player in the future for the Terps. He played well in spurts, but he does not bring the same scoring ability that Allen does. As of Feb. 14, Allen was averaging 12.5 points per game to Peters' 4.6. As Allen continues to progress, Peters' minutes have continued to decline.
Since his return, Allen has been one of the Terps' top 3-point shooters, with 31 3-pointers during his first 13 games -- more than any of his teammates had during that span. Allen had seven 3-point baskets and a career-high 32 points during an 83-71 win against Florida State Feb. 8.
He gives the Maryland offense another shooter to stretch the floor and a guard who can penetrate to create shots for others. Allen has been a contributing factor in Maryland's improvement in distributing the ball and getting more assisted baskets, averaging 3.3 assists per game as of Feb. 14.
Even as a young player coming back from a major injury, Allen is helping his teammates. Wells said he thought Allen's best games would come as the team got closer to the end of its regular-season schedule.
"He's getting better," Wells said, "and he's doing things we need him to do right now, which is score and run the team. He's still a young player. … As we go more into conference play, expect for him to really be playing his best basketball, because he's missed a lot of games so far."
When the Maryland offense has been at its best, it's been able to get open shots in the half-court. Allen has the potential to be a difference maker for Maryland as it concludes its final season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"Coach always says to run the offense," sophomore forward Jake Layman said, "and [Allen's] doing a lot better at that. He gives us another scorer, and we have our point guard back, so it has been helping us a lot."