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3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

Melo Trimble, by many estimations, made the "right" decision by returning to Maryland for his junior season.

Of course, there could be any number of unforeseen circumstances in the future that could change that opinion, but given the current set of conditions, he returns to a team that could legitimately make the NCAA tournament with another year to prove to NBA scouts that he can play at the next level.

But there are still challenges ahead for Trimble. Here are three of them. 


1) Less on-paper talent than the 2015-16 team

Mark Turgeon made two enormous, late-signing period splashes last year by landing five-star center Diamond Stone, then Rasheed Sulaimon from Duke as a graduate transfer. That helped to solidify a starting five that already included Trimble, then-senior Jake Layman, and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter, Jr.

The Terrapins had arguably the most purely talented starting five in the country. The attention on a given night was off of Trimble in a way because on any given night any one of those five players could carry the offensive load. It will be on Trimble during his junior season.

The starting five likely projects something like this (with some variation, depending on how Turgeon wants to utilize his guard and wing depth): PG: Melo Trimble | SG: Dion Wiley | SF: Jared Nickens | PF: L.G. Gill | C: Damonte Dodd.

Freshman guard Anthony Cowan will assuredly be in the mix, but that still pins most all of the offensive pressure on Trimble. Can he thrive when he is the focal point of the defense's game plan? 

Wiley, Nickens, and Gill hitting their shots would help. But who becomes the reliable pick-and-roll options like Carter and Stone were last season?


2) The foul problem

Throughout the 2015-16 season, Turgeon mentioned whenever he could the fact that Trimble was getting to the rim at the same rate that he was his freshman season, but not getting foul calls at the same rate. That meant the same wear and tear on his body, but without the benefit of an efficient scoring line to go with it. 

Turgeon would never publicly, explicitly pin it on the referees, but look at the difference between Trimble's average field goal attempts as a sophomore during Big Ten play (4.4) and during the NCAA tournament (10.6). That cannot all be accounted for by saying he got to the basket more often in the tournament. 

Because Trimble hits at such a high rate from the free-throw line (86.8 percent), he becomes lethal in the pick-and-roll because he can hit shots if the defense goes under a screen, pass to an open man if they hedge out, or drive past and draw a foul if they go over. 

No fouls in the lane? Less effective pick-and-roll for a player who feasts in that set. What indicates that something will change when he is a junior?


3) The looming 2017 NBA Draft

By returning to Maryland, Trimble buys himself time and gives himself an opportunity to show what he can do during his junior season in hopes that he returns to a form closer to what we saw in 2014-15 or early 2015-16. 

That will all build up likely to the 2017 NBA Draft, assuming Trimble enters. He has questions that he now has to answer and some things that will be real concerns.

He will be 22 years old at the time of next year's draft. Only three players projected to be taken in the first round of this year's draft, according to's current mock, will be 22 years of age or older on draft night -- Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, and Providence's Kris Dunn.

Player of the Year finalist. Player of the Year finalist. Projected lottery pick back in 2015 who decided to stay anyway.

That's tough company to break into for Trimble and it speaks to the type of junior season he would have to have to get into the first round. 

And the foundation of his overall game won't be changing. His length will still be subpar, compared to his peers, at next year's Combine. It's unlikely that his max vertical will improve by much, which means he'll have to answer those questions another way -- simply by playing basketball. 

Master the pick-and-roll. Shoot a high percentage from three. Get back to the line at a high rate. That should be the formula for Trimble.

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Maryland women's shooting struggles lead to second-round loss vs. N.C. State


Maryland women's shooting struggles lead to second-round loss vs. N.C. State

RALEIGH, N.C.  — Kiara Leslie had 21 points and 11 rebounds against her former team, and North Carolina State beat Maryland 74-60 on Sunday in the second round of the women's NCAA Tournament.

Leslie, who spent three seasons at Maryland before graduating and transferring to N.C. State, finished one point shy of a career high.

Kalia Ealey and Chelsea Nelson added 12 points apiece while Akela Maize scored 11 to help the fourth-seeded Wolfpack (26-8) earn their first Sweet 16 appearance since the late Kay Yow led an inspirational run in 2007.


N.C. State, which shot 45 percent and was 7 of 14 from 3-point range, will play the Oklahoma State-Mississippi State winner on Friday night in the Kansas City Regional semifinals.

Brianna Fraser had 17 points for the fifth-seeded Terrapins (26-8), who were held to 37 percent shooting.

Leading scorer Kaila Charles, plagued all day by foul trouble, finished with four points -- 14 fewer than her average -- on 2-of-8 shooting before fouling out with 2:29 left. She had scored in double figures in 30 of her previous 33 games.

Maryland's offense, which averages 80 points, had trouble scoring against one of the nation's stingiest defenses.

N.C. State allows 56.7 points per game and only one team in the past two months -- top-seeded Notre Dame -- has reached 70 against the Wolfpack.


Maryland: The Terrapins were denied their sixth Sweet 16 in seven years in part because their potent perimeter game was nonexistent. Maryland, at 39.1 percent the nation's seventh-most accurate team, missed all five of its 3s. Kristen Confroy, who's third in the nation from long range at 40.3 percent, didn't attempt one.

N.C. State: Leslie kept tormenting her former teammates by turning steals into layups. Big brother C.J. Leslie led the N.C. State men's program to a Sweet 16 in 2012, and now she's headed to one, too.


N.C. State will play either top-seeded Mississippi State or ninth-seeded Oklahoma State on Friday night in the Kansas City Regional semifinals.


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Big Ten season comes to a close for Maryland in final seconds of second round


Big Ten season comes to a close for Maryland in final seconds of second round

NEW YORK -- After struggling with injuries and poor play most of the season, Wisconsin is peaking at the right time.

Brevin Pritzl broke a tie with a foul-line jumper with 28 seconds left and Khalil Iverson secured the win with a steal in the waning seconds, leading Wisconsin past Maryland 59-54 on Thursday in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.


Brad Davison and Iverson each made two free throws in the final nine seconds, and the ninth-seeded Badgers (15-17) advanced to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Michigan on Friday at Madison Square Garden after winning for the fifth time in seven games.

"It's a credit to these guys to my right and also the guys back in the locker room, how they've grown over the last month," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. "It has been fun to watch and hopefully we've got a lot more basketball yet to play."

The win wasn't pretty, but the Badgers made all the key plays down the stretch and eight-seeded Maryland (19-13) didn't.

The biggest plays were offensive rebounds by Iverson and Ethan Happ after Pritzl and Davison missed 3-point shots with the game tied at 53.

After the second miss with 40.3 seconds to go, Wisconsin called timeout and Pritzl got the game-winner 12 seconds later.

"I think, especially at the end of this game, the possessions are magnified," Davison said. "When you do things right those final possessions, you can really turn things around."

Maryland had a chance to tie the game when Kevin Huerter was fouled by Happ with 9.2 seconds to go, but he missed the first of two free throws and the Terps came up short for the seventh time in 11 games.

"I feel like we were fighting uphill all night," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "We had the lead 24-23. It's the one time we had the lead. We tied it a bunch of times. It really came down to two things. We fouled too much and we couldn't get a rebound when we needed a rebound."


Happ had 14 points and seven rebounds for Wisconsin, which lost to Michigan State 68-63 less than a week ago. Davison finished with 13 points while Iverson had 11 and six rebounds and Pritzl 10 points. The Badgers, who lost starting point guard D'Mitrik Trice and reserve Kobe King to injuries in December, won despite shooting 36 percent.

"I personally figure we just have to string together an entire game for 40 minutes and just staying toe to toe with them like we did last game," Iverson said. "I know we'll be ready for them."

Huerter had 20 points to lead Maryland. Anthony Cowan Jr. added 16 points and Bruno Fernando had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Wisconsin never trailed in the second half, but it never led by more than three points in the final 11:40 until the closing seconds.

Pritzl's jumper broke a 53-all tie. Huerter then missed the first free throw and made the second. Maryland fouled Davison on the inbounds pass and he made both shots with 8.5 seconds to go for a 57-54 lead.

Wisconsin fouled Cowan rather than let him attempt a game-tying 3-pointer. Since it was a nonshooting foul, the Terps had to inbound with 5 seconds to go and Iverson stole Dion Wiley's pass and then closed the game with two free throws.

"He has evolved into our defensive end stopped," Gard said. "For him to come in and make a play like that at the end to seal it was great."