It's odd to think the Maryland Terrapins were in a slump, but despite a 74-65 loss at Michigan State and a 62-56 hard fought overtime victory against Northwestern - the 10th-ranked team in the Big Ten, the Terrapins were in a bit of a rough duo of games.
As one of the biggest teams in the entire country, the Terrapins found themselves in the midst of having trouble winning the battle on the glass. With a 6-9 small forward and a potential NBA front line in Robert Carter Jr. and Diamond Stone, their problem controlling the rebounding margin was befuddling. Since the win against Iowa on January 28, the Terrapins are boasting a four game winning streak, and with freshman center Diamond Stone back in the starting lineup, there seems to be a new sense of national recognition and stability for the Terrapins.
Diamond Stone Inserted Back in the Starting Lineup
Maryland had a constant starting lineup which featured junior Damonte Dodd in the starting lineup in Stone's place, but after a couple of stagnant offensive performances against Northwestern and Michigan State, change was in order. With Diamond Stone inserted into the starting lineup for the past four games, the combination of Stone and Carter has averaged 21.75 points combined. The duo of Stone and Carter have been terrifying for opposing Big Ten coaches, as both have progressed and developed more ways to score as the season progresses.
Sulaimon's Role Acceptance
The emergence of Stone has been very impactful for the Terrapins, but the production of graduate transfer Rasheed Sulaimon has arguably resonated with the Terrapins faithful the most out of all key cogs this season. The decision for head coach Mark Turgeon to bring him aboard was polarizing to say the least, but his decision to buy into the team philosophy and accept his role as a lock-down perimeter defender and scorer as needed, Sulaimon has won the hearts of College Park. The former Duke Blue Devil is averaging 14 points a game in the four game win streak while managing to be a catalyst for stingy perimeter defense - Maryland held the Purdue Boilermakers to 3-for-25 from the perimeter.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of Sulaimon's presence this year is his ability to facilitate when sophomore point guard Melo Trimble plays off the ball. Heading into the season, skeptics felt that Maryland was still in need of a secondary ball-handler in order to make a deep tournament run in March. Sulaimon's unselfish play has allowed Trimble to be a more effective player, as he can operate in the high screen and roll setting or run off screens and get in positions to get open three's. Not only does Sulaimon give Maryland an additional ball-handler, but he allows coach Turgeon to keep Trimble in the game which preserves the Terrapins' main scoring threat.
It's scary to think the Terrapins are in a grove. When five starters with NBA potential all average at least 10 points per game, it's seemingly a "pick your poison" lineup for opposing programs. Rebounding was one of the main concerns with the Terrapins leading up to the Purdue game, but ending the game tied at 37 rebounds a pieces, perhaps the battle for rebound supremacy is on the upswing. With seven games remaining, there are plenty of chances to prove to the remaining teams on their schedule and the rest of the top teams in the country, that they're a team to that's finally clicking on all cylinders when it matters most.