Maryland Terps

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How Turgeon and Sulaimon are trying to help Trimble through slump


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.


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 goes toe to toe with Ohio State, but ultimately falls to the Buckeyes

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Maryland goes toe to toe with Ohio State, but ultimately falls to the Buckeyes

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Relentlessly zipping up and down the field, ninth-ranked Ohio State and upstart Maryland were racking up yards and points at a dizzying pace.

Finally, the Terrapins were presented with the chance to end it -- one way or another.

A gutsy decision by Maryland interim coach Matt Canada did not achieve the desired results, and the Buckeyes avoided one of the most stunning upsets in this college football season by squeezing out a 52-51 victory in overtime on Saturday.

After a 5-yard touchdown run by Dwayne Haskins gave the Buckeyes a seven-point lead to start overtime, Tayon Fleet-Davis scored for the Terrapins. Canada opted to keep his offense on the field to attempt a 2-point conversion, and Tyrrell Pigrome's pass to Jeshaun Jones was off target .

"It was a gut call," Canada said. "I felt like they were scoring, we were scoring. We had the ball, we had to make one play to win. Obviously it didn't work. I wasn't trying to be aggressive. I was just trying to win."

After watching his defense allow 535 yards and seven touchdowns, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer understood why Canada opted to win it right there.

"I would have probably done the same thing if I was their coach, the way they were gaining yards on us," Meyer said. "I'm relieved we won."

Favored by 14 points, Ohio State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten, No. 10 CFP) trailed by two touchdowns in the third quarter and 45-38 with under two minutes left before rallying.

The victory kept the Buckeyes in the hunt for the Big Ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State concludes the regular season next week in a game against Michigan that will decide the Big Ten East winner.

After describing the performance of his defense as "alarming," Meyer said, "But we won. Let's go back to work and get ready for next week."

The Buckeyes never led until overtime against the gritty Terrapins (5-6, 3-5), who have made the most of a season dedicated to teammate Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June. The players teamed together under the guidance of Canada, who maintained his role of offensive coordinator after taking over for head coach DJ Durkin, who was placed on administrative leave in August, reinstated on Oct. 30 and fired on Oct. 31.

On this day, the Terps traded blows with one of the best teams in the nation, and stuck in it to the end.

"I wish we had been a little bit better on the last play," Canada said. "It's a tough day. We put a lot into this."

Pigrome was making his first start of the season after Kasim Hill sustained a season-ending knee injury last week. He went 6 for 13 for 181 yards.

Haskins ran for three touchdowns and was 28 for 38 for 405 yards and three TDs. Ohio State finished with a whopping 688 yards, including 203 on the ground by J.K. Dobbins.

All that offense meant nothing until Pigrome's pass went about six inches wide of his intended target.

"For us to stop them on a 2-point conversion, a whole bunch of emotions just came out of me," Haskins said. "All that grit, all that adversity we faced in this game, to come back on top just meant everything for myself and my teammates."

Maryland freshman Anthony McFarland had touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards in the first quarter and finished with 298 yards rushing -- seven short of the school's single-game record.

The Terps took a 45-38 lead when Chigoziem Okonkwo recovered a fumble by McFarland in the end zone with 1:41 left. Haskins then orchestrated a 50-yard, beat-the-clock drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Binjimen Victory with 40 seconds remaining.

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Terps show resiliency, but fall shy of major upset against Ohio State

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Terps show resiliency, but fall shy of major upset against Ohio State

So. That game, huh? Where do you even begin after a game like that?

The Maryland Terrapins, playing in their home finale, on Senior Day, against top-10 ranked Ohio State, put up one heck of a fight. The Terps got touchdown runs of 75 and 81 yards from Anthony McFarland, the redshirt freshman running back sensation who accumulated 299 yards on the day. His brief exit after a shoulder injury is the only reason he didn't reach 300, and is likely the only reason he still sits at second all-time in Maryland history for rushing yards in a single game, instead of first.

The defense shined as well. It's a strange thing to say after a team gives up 52 points, but they clamped down on OSU throughout the first half, and recorded three takeaways, enough to give them a chance at the win. It was all you could have asked for.

Tyrrell Pigrome also had some incredible moments on the day. The only pass he completed in the first half (seriously, the Terps led at halftime despite completing just ONE pass), was a 56-yard bomb that fell perfectly into the hands of Dontay Demus. Pigrome could not have placed it more perfectly if he had walked it to Demus and handed it to him. It was a thing of beauty, and wouldn't be the only deep pass Pigrome made look effortless today.

Unfortunately, despite the many, many highs for Maryland today, what will probably be remembered is the lowest low. Unfortunately for Pigrome, it also came from him.

In the first overtime, Maryland elected to start on defense. The unit actually held up decently well, but an untimely penalty and a bold fourth-down call gave the Buckeyes all they needed to go up seven.

The Terps struck quickly with Anthony McFarland immediately bursting forward for 24 yards. It appeared he might have had a touchdown, but it was overturned. The Terps scored on the next play, and without hesitation, interim head coach Matt Canada decided to go for a two point conversion and the win.

Considering that the Terps were two touchdown underdogs entering the day, and that the Buckeyes had scored touchdowns on four straight possessions, and how dominant the run game had been all afternoon, it was easy to agree with Canada's call.

The play design even worked splendidly, as Pigrome rolled to his right and had an underneath pass available to Tayon Fleet-Davis, or a wide open Jeshaun Jones sitting in the end zone. Pigrome opted for Jones, but anticipated the freshman wide receiver would keep moving to his right, and the ball sailed past the outstretched hands of the diving wideout. Perhaps a more seasoned quarterback-receiver duo would have been more in sync, but Pigrome, in his first start of the season, didn't have that luxury.

Right decision. Right play call. Wrong page. Game over.

Hindsight is 20/20, and as is always the case, some fans on Twitter were perplexed. Why go for two at home? Why not try to let Ohio State make a mistake on the road, especially when they'd been so sloppy all afternoon?

The truth is, Maryland needed to win this game in regulation, and they couldn't do it. Then, they managed to fight back yet again during this trying year, and put themselves in a position to win with just two yards.

If you asked Canada, Pigrome, McFarland, and every other person in Maryland Stadium today if they'd take a one play opportunity from the two-yard line to beat Ohio State, but you'd lose if you didn't convert, every one of them to a man would have taken that chance.

Disappointing results shouldn't detract from the correct process. This was the best-coached game Canada had all season long (or at the very worst since the opener against Texas) and the final call was no exception.

Ultimately, Maryland fans will move past the loss as they would any other. They'll move on to the Penn State game, or to Maryland Basketball, or the Redskins or Ravens in Week 11. It's only sports, after all, and there's always another game.

If there's anyone to feel for, it's the kids who have proudly worn the Maryland flag on their jerseys every game day this season. The kids who have lost more than most fans can truly appreciate, who have been betrayed by the men who were supposed to look after them. The kids who have inspired fans across the country with their pride, their resolve, and their bond with their brothers. The kids who have given it their all at every opportunity, and represented the university with the utmost honor, who have made alumni proud every single day.

They fought harder than ever before, and it's a darn shame that they fell short on such an emotional day. Hopefully, they can once again fight back and show how much heart they have next week against Penn State.

Based on all we've seen this season, I'd be surprised if they didn't.