Whether the Maryland Terrapins are leading in a close game or trailing in a close game, there is always a sense of calm in the air watching the Terps play. Of course a lot of that has to do with sophomore point guard Melo Trimble. In the last two seasons overall Maryland has a 43-8 record and a 18-3 record in games decided by eight points or less, with Trimble being the main reason for that statistic.
When teams win close games some people contribute that to luck, but in Maryland's case they play tight games so often that it is time to realize that they are clutch in that category. With what we saw from Trimble with his game winning shot against the Wisconsin Badgers this past Saturday, it not only completely describes his value to Maryland, but the confidence Maryland's coaching staff has in him. To play in isolation the way Trimble did in the final moments speaks to his talent, as well as the freedom the coaching staff is willing to give him.
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As Trimble goes, Maryland goes. Since conference play began, Trimble is averaging 35 minutes a game in three of the four games he has played in (against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Trimble only had 14 minutes due to a leg injury) compared to the 31 minutes he averaged in non conference play. His minutes are more likely to stay around 35 minutes as the season goes on, which could be troubling for Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon as he certainly doesn't want Trimble to be worn down by the time the NCAA tournament arrives in March.
"It's been pretty amazing what Melo's doing," Turgeon noted recently to the Baltimore Sun . "I think he wants to prove to everybody that he's not just a scorer. He's a great point guard."
As of right now, even with all of the talent Maryland has, Trimble has made all of his teammates better. Whether he uses the pick and roll, slashing to the paint to draw a foul, dishing out assists or taking a three point jumper with a hand in his face, Trimble has been stellar. But with all of that going for him, Trimble wants to be known as a team guy and he truly is defined by his execution on the court.
"I like the attention, but I don't like it too much because my teammates, not that they don't get attention, but they don't get as much as I do," Trimble noted to the Baltimore Sun in late December. "I'm a team-first guy. I just want to be like my teammates and be with them all the time and not be excluded in the group."
Player of the Year Race?
Trimble was already named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year and it looks like the voters didn't make a bad choice at all. On the season so far Trimble is averaging 14.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while shooting 87 percent from the free throw line. Right now Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine and Iowa Hawkeyes forward Jarrod Uthoff are Trimble's main competitors for the Big Ten Player of the Year Award, with Valentine at a slight disadvantage due to missed time from a recent injury.
There have been critics who have questioned how far Maryland can go as they tend to play to the level of their competition over the first sixteen games this season. This team will go as far as Trimble is able to carry them. Not that Maryland can't win without him, but he is the straw that stirs the drink for this team. When Trimble is on his game, he makes Maryland a top three team in the country without question. When Trimble struggles? Well...we saw what happened when he was forced out of the West Virginia game last March.