COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland guard Rasheed Sulaimon could not pinpoint exactly when it happened, but he has a general idea of the moment at which two players with very different paths in their college careers up to this point -- he and sophomore Melo Trimble -- finally clicked.
“That North Carolina game was a great start.”
Thrown into a lion’s den in Chapel Hill as an old ACC rivalry was rekindled, the two combined for 41 points, including 9-of-14 shooting from three-point range, and added 15 assists in a losing effort to the Tar Heels.
But there was something about the chemistry and the synchronicity -- like pistons in an engine now firing as they were intended to.
On nights when Sulaimon is a featured scorer, Trimble distributes. When the sophomore has the hot hand, Sulaimon dishes the ball around -- on display last night when Trimble had a team-high 18 points and Sulaimon had a career-high 10 assists in a 77-56 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore.
“The beginning, it was hard because we were trying to feel each other out,” Sulaimon said. “I think I can score the ball, he can score the ball, we both know we can pass. So, it just took getting on the same page.
"It kind of just clicked one day."
That took hours of watching film together, spending time together off the court, and constantly communicating.
Trimble isn’t so forthright about what it took for him and Sulaimon to sync up, but he says both try to stay in “attack mode” for 40 minutes.
In his freshman season, Trimble did not have the luxury of a secondary ball handler like Sulaimon. Head coach Mark Turgeon, at times, had to fit a square peg into a round hole by making Dez Wells a lead guard when he is more attacker and scorer than distributor.
Now he has said publicly that he believes he has the nation's best backcourt with Sulaimon alongside Trimble.
“He makes winning plays. He doesn’t shoot a lot. He doesn’t force things,” Turgeon said of Sulaimon. “He just makes winning plays and always tries to guard. Those guys are fun to coach.”