Maryland Terps

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How Turgeon and Sulaimon are trying to help Trimble through slump

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How Turgeon and Sulaimon are trying to help Trimble through slump

COLLEGE PARK -- Melo Trimble is fighting through the first major slump of his young career at Maryland it is a difficult one to shake.

Over the past two games -- both Maryland losses, including a defeat the hands of a Minnesota team that had previously not won a game in the Big Ten -- Trimble is 4-of-25 from the floor. Over the past four games, he is 7-of-38. On the season, his three-point shooting has dipped eight percentage points and he is taking two less free-throw attempts per game.

That brought about a conversation between head coach Mark Turgeon and the sophomore guard, an occurrence that is not uncommon.

“Melo, you know what our record was the year before you got here? We were [17-15],” Turgeon recalled telling Trimble. “You know what our record is since you’ve been here? We’re 50-12.

“I played 120 games [at Kansas]. I shot well in two of them. You’ve played 62 and you’ve shot well in about 56. Everything’s fine, Melo.”

Trimble was not made available for comment to the media after Maryland’s losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota, nor was he made available after Saturday’s practice. The last time he spoke, though, he opened up about the back and hamstring injuries that have nagged him this season.

He continues to get extensive treatment, he said, but especially over the past two games some problems appear to be more about decisionmaking than being physically inhibited by an injury.

Normally the commander of the final four minutes of a given game -- and a major reason why the Terrapins are so good in games decided by six points or fewer over the past two years -- Trimble has turned the ball over nearly twice as many times (13) as he had made a shot from the field (7) in the past four games.

MORE TERPS: 'WE'RE NOT A BAD TEAM'

In the final two minutes against Minnesota, Trimble turned the ball over twice and missed badly on a pull-up jumper. In a word, it has been uncharacteristic.

“You know, there’s a lot on his plate,” Turgeon said Saturday. “Every time you turn around, there’s articles about him. We’ve talked about just playing for enjoying the basketball.”

It’s not just the responsibilities, but the minutes load as well.

Not counting Feb. 9’s win over Division II Bowie State, Trimble has not played less than 35 minutes in a game since the team’s Jan. 16 blowout victory over Ohio State. As the team’s primary ball handler, and with senior Rasheed Sulaimon as the only real secondary option, chances to breathe are short, few, and far between.

A preseason injury to sophomore guard Dion Wiley has exacerbated the problem by thinning the backcourt depth even more.

So there stand Trimble and Sulaimon, simultaneously complementing each other on the court and leaning on each other off of it. The senior says he and Trimble, too, had a long conversation after Thursday’s loss.

“We got together, shot around a little bit, just hung around and just tried to be in good spirits,” Sulaimon said. “For a while, we didn’t even mention anything about basketball, just asked each other how we were doing and stuff like that and, you know, when we started talking about basketball, we were just trying to be positive with each other.

“It’s kind of hard sometimes playing this game and you’re going through a major slump and it just feels like you can’t do anything right. We all go through it as players so we just kind of vented on that and shared some similar thoughts on going through the same situation.”

How Maryland does offensively is tied directly to Trimble’s play because the ball so often starts in his hands. When in a groove, he is the team’s best and most efficient shooter and now as a sophomore has developed the ability to facilitate as well.

But without him, there is no option that so effectively stirs the drink.

“Melo’s had a couple bad games, but we’re 50-12,” Turgeon said. “Guy’s an amazing player. He’s done more for our program than a player in a long time.”

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

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Maryland reacts to latest FBI investigation reports

The world of college basketball has been on high alert since last fall when reports first surfaced of a longterm FBI investigation into the worst-kept secret in sports: college athletes being paid to play.

News surrounding the scandal died down after the inital wave of arrests, but Yahoo! Sports released a warning of sorts recently and followed it up on Friday by naming players (both past and present) for the first time. There were dozens of programs and players implicated, including Maryland's Diamond Stone.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon released the following statement Friday afternoon.

"Late last night we were alerted of a report associating one of our former student-athletes with an agent. We are extremely disappointed, and we will fully cooperate with any investigation. I do not have a relationship with Andy Miller or anyone from his agency, and at no time have I ever had a conversation with Andy Miller or his agency regarding any Maryland basketball player. We remain steadfast in upholding a program of integrity that reflects the values of our University community."

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season, after which he left for the NBA. That Terps team was highly-ranked entering the season but ended up losing in the Sweet 16 to top-seeded Kansas.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

Andy Miller is the agent whose financial records were used to implicate so many players in the Yahoo! Sports report. It's no surprise that Turgeon would deny having a relationship with Miller regarding any of his players, but the question remains: What does this mean for Maryland basketball?

You can be sure that Turgeon will be meeting with both past and current assistant coaches Friday to confirm they have not had any involvement with Andy Miller. He'll also certainly be meeting with higher-ups at Maryland, as they try to cover their bases. 

That said, it seems unlikely Maryland would take an action as drastic as firing Turgeon over these allegations. There has been no evidence released so far that implies Turgeon had any knowledge of Stone's actions. Barring further information coming to light, it seems as though this is a case of Stone developing a relationship with Miller's agency separately from Maryland.

Some of the more vocal members of Maryland's fan base would like to think Turgeon is on the hot seat. The truth is, given his long-term contract and the current state of Maryland's finances, it's not currently feasible to fire him and expect to afford a more accomplished coach. Though if further reports indicate Turgeon was complicit, then all bets are off.

It remains possible the NCAA will impose punishments on the schools involved with this scandal, in the form of reduced scholarships, postseason bans, or worse. But that's likely off the table until further evidence comes out regarding how much schools and coaches actually knew. It is a near-certainty that some schools were in cahoots with Miller and other agents; the problem is identifying which schools were intentionally breaking the rules, and which were simply unaware. Ultimately, however, some degree of responsibility falls on the head coach.

For now, the biggest worry on the minds of Maryland fans should be vacated wins. If Diamond Stone was ineligible, then it's possible the victories Maryland recorded during the 2015-16 season will be erased from the record books. Unfortunately, this could include their run to the Sweet 16, which was the program's first in more than a decade.

Given the expectations surrounding the team during Stone's year in College Park, his tenure could already be considered a disappointment. Losing those wins would further dampen the memories fans have from that season.

On the bright side, at least the Terps didn't have a Final Four run to lose.

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

LINCOLN, Neb. -- James Palmer Jr. scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, Isaiah Roby had all 11 of his after half, and Nebraska held off Maryland 70-66 on Tuesday night.

Palmer and Roby combined for 35 of the Cornhuskers' 40 second-half points, and they secured their first 20-win season since 2008. They won a sixth straight conference game for the first time in 20 years.

Palmer scored 15 straight points for the Huskers (20-8, 11-4 Big Ten) over a 10-minute span that ended when Roby hit one of two free throws with 2:57 left for a 64-59 lead. Roby had a double-double, with 10 rebounds, and he also blocked three shots.

The Terps (17-11, 6-9) had a chance to take the lead with a minute to play, but Glynn Watson Jr. blocked Anthony Cowan Jr.'s 3-point try, Evan Taylor came up with the loose ball and got it to Watson.

Watson missed a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout, and Roby got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He made both free throws for a 66-63 lead. Kevin Huerter's layin cut it to one point before Watson made two free throws.

Huerter went to the line with 2.8 seconds left, and after making the first free throw he intentionally missed the second. Palmer got the rebound, was fouled and put the game away with two free throws.

Bruno Fernando led the Terps with 21 points and nine rebounds. Huerter added 12 points and Darryl Morsell had 11.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps' fading NCAA Tournament hopes might have been dashed with their seventh straight road loss.

Nebraska: The Huskers are resting firmly on the NCAA bubble and absolutely needed this win. They got it, thanks to Palmer and Roby's efforts in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland hosts Rutgers on Saturday. It's the teams' only meeting this season.

Nebraska visits Illinois. The Huskers beat the Illini 64-63 in Lincoln on Jan. 15.

RELATED: DMV College Basketball Power Rankings: Missed opportunities