COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland guard Rasheed Sulaimon received a pass near the right corner and swung the ball toward teammate Melo Trimble on the right wing early in the second half of Saturday’s game against Maryland-Eastern Shore in College Park.
Even before receiving the pass, Trimble literally had a smile on his face. He took the feed from Sulaimon, rose, and fired -- nailing three of his team-high 18 points. That’s when you knew he was on.
That was the moment during which, in contrast to other games this season when he has taken it upon himself to be a distributor for his teammates, it was clear that Trimble would be a scorer in a 77-56 victory at XFINITY Center.
“He has a feel that you can’t teach. He knows what he needs to do when he needs to do it,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “That’s what makes him who he is.”
What is most remarkable is that Trimble’s 18 points came on six shots from the floor -- yes, six -- as he finished 4-of-4 from three-point range and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. In a game where his team needed scoring after surrendering a late run that cut their lead to just six before halftime, he shifted into gear.
It is part of Trimble’s continued year-over-year progression, where he at times looks more like a traditional point guard, but can still flip the switch and become the elite scorer he proved himself to be last season.
“For today, I was on, so I was on. That was for me to shoot a lot,” Trimble said. “That’s just part of being a point guard and also just the teammates around me are really good, just an upgrade from last year, and that’s why I can do what I do.”
The next two weeks or so leading up to conference play are crucial for Trimble, but not in the traditional sense.
Between now and Dec. 29, Maryland has two games -- Dec. 19 vs. Princeton and Dec. 27 vs. Marshall. He and Sulaimon lead the team in minutes played per game at 32 and 31.7, respectively. This time off will be about rest for those two.
Does Turgeon truly have trust in backup guard Jaylen Brantley? He played only seven minutes in a game where he likely could have gotten more run. When push comes to shove in conference play, will Turgeon be willing to turn to the junior college transfer or ride it out with his two star guards?
My bet is the latter, which means that plenty of ice baths and rest could be part of this holiday season for the Big Ten’s Preseason Player of the Year.