Melo Trimble had two fouls by the 9:30 mark of the first half and that was where Maryland’s struggles really began on Tuesday night in a 70-67 loss to Michigan.
“It was the first time all year he’s been in foul trouble, so we kind of were looking around like, ‘OK.’” head coach Mark Turgeon said after the game. “We rely on Melo and he totally lost his rhythm. He has carried us until he lost his rhythm tonight. It was hard.”
Everything offensively ripples outward from what Trimble is able to do or the threat of what he is able to do. His diverse offensive game not only helps to create for others, but there always exists the possibility that he’ll take over the game as a scorer, as he did in the second half against Wisconsin on Saturday.
Add two fouls and get him on the bench and the entire dynamic changes.
Turgeon’s response to the fouls was actually interesting -- and tailored to Tuesday’s game. Already struggling to defend on the perimeter, Turgeon opted to insert former walk-on Varun Ram over junior college transfer Jaylen Brantley.
It was a smart move.
Ram, a sparkplug defensively who made a game-saving defensive play in the team’s NCAA tournament victory over Valparaiso last season, moved ahead of Brantley, more of a scorer and distributor when he gets into the game.
“I thought Varun was terrific for us,” Turgeon said. “Varun really helped us guard.”
Ram helped to hold the fort until Trimble could get back into the game, but the damage had already been done in terms of the sophomore’s rhythm on Tuesday.
Jake Layman, Robert Carter Jr., and Diamond Stone scored 55 of the team’s 67 total points and they had to because Trimble was not able to get to the free-throw line or shoot well from the floor, going just 1-of-7.
The silver lining, though? He played the way that he did and the Terrapins only lost by three on the road to a Top 35 KenPom team -- with a chance to tie it on the last possession.
That should tell you something about the pieces around him.