Testudo Times Roundtable
Week of 1/11
Q: Where do you rank Melo Trimble's game-winning three to beat Wisconsin in Melo's "career moments" at Maryland?
Todd: I have to consider it the top moment of his career thus far since I read in Tuesday's Washington Post that this was Melo's first-ever game-winner.
Bartley: For now it has to be the highlight of his career, however I imagine we will see more before he is through.
Brian B: The and-one at the end of the Wisconsin game last year was, to me, probably more impactful, considering that Wisconsin team was significantly better than this year's Badger squad. Or perhaps the crossover at the end of the half against MSU last year.
Jake S: As they noted in the broadcast of the Michigan game, it was Melo's first career game-winner so I would say this is definitely the top moment in his collegiate career.
Sammi S: Definitely the top moment. It was amazing to see him confidently take that shot and win it all, especially in a tight game against a Big Ten rival.
Drew: I agree that it's his top career moment. Having a highlight like that to his name potentially pushes him into another echelon in Maryland history. I was shocked to hear it was his first buzzer beater at any level, simply because he pulled up from way back with a Gilbert Arenas-esque confidence. Watching the game, I had really no doubts that the shot was going to drop.
Carson: If it isn't No. 1, it certainly is top-three. Someone else said it, but it just adds to the lore of his career. Definitely will look good on his Maryland career highlight film.
Justin: I wish I could say something different, but I also think the shot is the top moment of his career. It was the first game winner of his collegiate career, and was especially big since Wisconsin had tied the game on the previous possession.
Noah: Melo scored six points in the last three minutes of Maryland's upset of top-five Wisconsin last year. That may have been his coming-out party. I'll put that at No. 1. For me, his game-winner comes in at at No. 2. If I had to pick a third, it would probably be his performance against Northwestern.
Q: What were your initial thoughts on the Maryland-Michigan game?
Jake S: I think that Maryland's biggest problem was that they dug a hole that was hard to come out of. Despite fighting back to briefly take the lead in the second half, they really were never able to fully swing the momentum in their favor. It was another night of Jaylen Brantley riding the bench, which was more concerning tonight as the team struggled to score from behind the arc. I know Varun Ram is probably a better defender than Brantley, but Maryland needed the offense once they began stopping Michigan in the second half. Brantley was supposedly brought in to back-up Melo Trimble, and tonight appeared to be a game where his services would be extremely useful. Trimble struggled tonight as he scored the fewest points in his collegiate career. Maryland needed another guard to pick up the slack, and they didn't have that tonight. I wouldn't panic, but Michigan also did not have their leading scorer, rebounder or passer in tonight's game as LeVert sat out yet again. It's early January, so I'm not going to freak out just yet.
Todd: Maryland can't survive the lack of backcourt production they had tonight. I don't know why Varun Ram got the run he did in terms of his minutes. Is Brantley that deep in the doghouse or was he unable to play for some other reason? Varun's a great kid but that's an ugly shot he launches. Brantley may not be as good defensively as Ram but it's four on five on the other end of the court. Look, we all knew the Terps were going to lose some games especially on the road so no panic yet. It happens. Let's see how they bounce back.
Brian B: I didn't have a great feeling heading into this game, albeit I am a chronic pessimist when it comes to the sporting world. It was difficult to understand why Varun garnered so much playing time, his effort and tenacity on the defensive side of the ball is more than admirable, but he provides absolutely no threat on offense. He is a role player that should be tactfully inserted into the game when necessary, not a player that should be left on the court for long stretches. Anyway, I digress, it's certainly not Ram's fault Maryland lost. Michigan shot 29 three point shots, compared to 24 two point shots and made enough to get out of there with the upset. On the other hand, Maryland's three point shooting was abysmal. Melo kind of disappeared and Sulaimon struggled and no one else in the front court could pick up the slack. Like Todd said, you're bound to lose some games and narrowly losing on the road in Ann Arbor certainly is no reason to start panicking. Side Note: I always strive to avoid talking about officiating, and this is not an excuse, and I know I am going to sound like a bickering old fool, but man I felt like the Wolverines traveled about a half dozen times in the first half. Not necessarily a complaint, just an observation.
Drew: It was a disheartening loss, but at the end of the day it isn't the worst thing that could happen for this team. It shows just how integral Melo's production is for Maryland to win games. Layman had a great game, Stone was a beast in the second half, Robert Carter was his usual reliable self, but they weren't able to pull out the win due to a lack of scoring from Melo. While he was delegated to the bench in the first half due to foul trouble, last night just solidified that this is his team so I would have liked to see him be more assertive in the second half with his shot. With all of that being said, Michigan shot lights out from deep and from the start it just seemed like it was their game. My real concern is just the inconsistency coming out of the gates, or rather the consistent lethargic play in the first half of so many games this year. And I agree with everyone else here, Varun should only get that type of run in blowouts or at Eppley, definitely not while we trail on the road in conference play. There are other areas of concern like Jared Nickens shooting, but early season losses are how good teams become great. With so many good teams in country this year and no great teams quite yet, losing can be a positive if this team learns from it and builds upon it moving forward.
Carson: Before my reactions to the game itself, this game was particularly cool to watch for me personally. I went to Trinity College in Hartford, CT (Go Bants!) which is the same school Varun transferred to Maryland from. Duncan Robinson went to Williams who is also in the NESCAC (our conference). I got to watch both of those guys when they were playing in DIII gyms in New England so seeing them last night on ESPN was kind of cool to see. As for the game itself, there were obviously a lot of areas of concern, however I personally am not ready to get nervous yet. There is no clear-cut No. 1 team in the country right now (Except for maybe Michigan State with Valentine back). Stay Melo. We will be alright.
Justin: Like North Carolina earlier this year, Michigan definitely exposed Maryland's flaws, especially in the first half. The Wolverines used a lot of screens to set up three point shots, which killed the Terps early. This forced them to push at the end of the first half, which led to 10 turnovers before the break. Melo also went into foul trouble early and was never able to get into the flow of the game. However, Mark Turgeon has always been able to get his team to play their back into games. Maryland did a much better job attacking inside in the second half, especially Layman and Stone. Like Carson said there's no reason for concern yet. Michigan is a talented team and the Terps weren't going to run the table in the Big 10.
Noah: Maryland dug themselves into an early hole with bad turnovers. Robinson was doing his best Jimmy Chitwood impression, and Turgeon didn't keep pounding the ball inside. I loved how Maryland fought back but this team got exposed on the perimeter. They didn't get to the foul line as much as I would have liked and while the officiating was frequently suspect, Maryland had more talent and should have won this game. I don't think the Terps deserved to win the game because the Wolverines outplayed them, but I think that they should have stuck to what they do well. Michigan got them out of their comfort zone.
Q: What are two things that Maryland needs to do better going forward?
Jake S: Maryland needs better production when Melo Trimble struggles. The way he played against Michigan was surprising, but there needs to be someone to pick up the slack. Sulaimon struggled until he knocked down those two three's late, and Brantley tallied one minute all night. Varun Ram certainly is a favorite, but isn't the answer. Maryland needs to find a way to produce when its best player is struggling. The slow starts are also killing Maryland. They are constantly forced to fight and claw back into the game. I believe they need to find a way to throw the first punch when playing above-average teams. We can even look back at Georgetown as they trailed 9-0 early. Despite their ability to come back, it was yet another example of how this team struggles to take control of the game from the opening tip. They've shown the ability to come back and win, so just imagine if they found a way to play that way for a full 40 minutes.
Todd: They need to get their mojo back from behind the arc. I think they are well below 30 percent for the last two games. As for the second, I'd say they need to close out the half better. The last few minutes of each half tonight and the last few minutes of the game in Madison certainly didn't belong to Maryland.
Brian B: They need to find their team balance again. Tuesday night there were only three players keeping the Terps in the game, Layman, Stone and Carter. That's two forwards and a center. The backcourt has struggled as of late (minus a few obvious exceptions), Melo and Rasheed have been inconsistent, Nickens has gone ice cold and Brantley has essentially disappeared.
Drew: I put a lot of this loss on the coaching. Even though Nickens wasn't hitting his shots from deep, he is a guy who you can't leave open. His presence on the floor helps to spread things out because teams have to respect his jumper, which gives Melo the ability to do Melo things and create offensive opportunities. There's no reason that he should have had similar minutes to Varun Ram in such a tightly contested game. Varun has proven that he's a lockdown defender and his effort on that end is great, but like everyone has said he's an offensive zero. I just can't see why Turgeon relied so heavily on him in this type of game. As for the actual play, they have to figure out a way to come out of the gates with more energy. We've all labeled Maryland as a "second half team" but that's in large part due to how bad they are in the first half. When you're a top team in the nation, you are going to get every team's best shot at you which is what happened last night. Coming out flat the way they have is a great way to give those teams they are matched up against the confidence to pull off upsets.
Carson: Turnovers are still an issue. Michigan shot LIGHTS OUT from deep, but the Terps did not help their own cause by any means. It still feels like we have yet to play a complete game where we are "on" from tip to final buzzer (Rutgers doesn't count). Once they can become more consistent in limiting turnovers, rebounding, and defensively, they will start to put away teams like they are capable of.
Justin: Like Carson said, Maryland still has not been at their best for a full game all season. Basketball is a game of runs, but the majority of their games this year have had dramatic shifts in momentum for each side. Coming into the season, this team was lauded for its tremendous depth, but last night only six guys played major minutes. Diamond Stone has been huge off the bench, but as of late he's the only bench player that has had a major role in the offense. They need to find a way to get Nickens going. There's nothing more dangerous than a three point shooter in rhythm.
Noah: The hot-shooting Terps picked a very bad game to go cold. They were down and it was too little, too late. Maryland did a really nice job of limiting their turnovers in the second half but 10 first-half turnovers is WAY too many. Credit to Michigan for playing a really good game. So to recap, turnovers is an area that needs improvement. The second thing that Maryland needs to improve on is attacking the basket. I saw the Terps settling for jump shots when they should have fed Diamond early and often in the post. Melo NEEDS to attack the basket. When he is getting to the free throw line at a healthy clip, this team is really tough to beat.
Q: Maryland wrestling won their first-ever Big Ten dual against Michigan State last week. Maryland's freshmen won 5 of their seven matches against the Spartans. Considering that the Terps were 0-12 in Big Ten play coming into the match and, while they have no shot at winning the Big Ten, could win more matches this season, is this win something or nothing?
Todd: I'll go out on a limb here and say it's something. One observation I have from watching sports over the years is that confidence can be provide an unexpected performance boost. Of course, the win was against Michigan State so that certainly tempers the perspective.
Bartley: It is something. Another example of a rising Big Ten team to contend with in the future.
Jake S: I'm with Bartley. A win is a win and it shows signs of improvement.
Brian B: The Big Ten is no easy place to compete in the world of collegiate wrestling. It's certainly nice to see them making some strides, but I wouldn't read that much into it.
Drew: Optimistically it's something, especially when the freshmen had such a large part in the victory. When you come in at 0-12, a win where younger guys perform so well is absolutely something.
Carson: The Big Ten is a wrestling powerhouse conference. Those midwestern boys know how to wrastle. So this is definitely something. Another brick in the foundation for the future.
Justin: The win is something. Even if it was against the worst team in the conference, it's good to finally get their first win.
Noah: I think it's something when you consider it's their first-ever Big Ten win and the freshmen played an instrumental role in getting the win. They could be up to two or three wins by this time next week.
Q: Will Likely has announced that he will return to Maryland for his senior season. What does his decision to return mean for the Terrapins next season?
Todd: It means they have Will Likely to put on the field in some capacity(ies). It will be interesting to see how this new staff uses his skills. Do they keep him as a returner and cornerback? Do they shift him to offense? I don't think he'll continue in the triple threat role he had at the end of the 2015 season because that appeared to take a physical toll on him.
Bartley: Having Will Likely return will certainly help with recruiting. Also, having a great player return who has already demonstrated flexibility in various positions, speed and raw football talent never hurts.
Brian B: It means the Terps will retain the talents of one of the most dangerous return men in the country. He'll certainly still have an impact on the success of the secondary as well.
Jake S: Maryland will still have its best option returning kicks and punts next season so that's obviously a plus. Likely will now be playing under one of the best defensive coaches in the country. Not only will his return impact Maryland, but I think it's better for his future if he truly wants to be an impact player every Sunday.
Drew: This move is good for both Maryland and Likely. It will be very interesting to see how well he can thrive defensively under Durkin and Shafer. And like everyone said, having him back to return kicks gives Maryland a weapon that many other teams don't have.
Carson: It gives Maryland an identifiable leader of the defense as well as the team as a whole. You need seniors who can lead by example and with all of the very talented freshman that are (hopefully) coming to College Park, having Likely back will have an impact that I personally don't think can be put into words. This is B1G.
Justin: Likely's return means Maryland welcomes back one of their leaders from last season, as well as one of the most dangerous return specialists in the country. It also prevents Durkin and Shafer from having four new starters in the secondary, since last year's other starting defensive backs won't be returning.
Noah: The guy is a two-time First Team All-Big Ten player. He's a stud. He's a dangerous returner and if he picks off a ball, he's a threat to take it back to the house. I'd like to see him integrated into the offense a little. I think that might add to his value when he leaves for the NFL after next season.
Q: The MLS (Major League Soccer) draft is today. Tsubasa Endoh and Ivan Magalhaes were both invited to the MLS Player Combine. Do you think that they or any other Maryland players will get drafted?
Todd: Wow, I'll leave this to people who know something about MLS because my knowledge is nil.
Bartley: I too lack knowledge of the MLS, however, I hope they are drafted and do well.
Brian B: I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that the average TT contributor/reader knows very little about Major League Soccer...go United?!
Jake S: Yeah, I have no clue either. Go Red Bulls?!
Drew: Can't say I'm a soccer guy aside from having a Freddy Adu poster in my room growing up, but good luck to both of them.
Carson: Go United. Go USA. Go Gedion (WJ what up).
Justin: I have no clue, but I wish them luck wherever they end up.
Noah: I applaud your honesty! I will actually be helping produce a national radio show (SiriusXM FC) from the MLS Draft tomorrow. I think that Endoh and Magalhaes will both be drafted,but I don't think they're first-rounders. Magalhaes is a big, strong and physical defender. Endoh is a tough, smart and versatile midfielder. I would be shocked if they don't get picked up in the second round.