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Melo Trimble isn't quite right, and Maryland basketball needs him

The Terps' best player hasn't looked himself.

Former Maryland guard Dez Wells consoles Melo Trimble after the Terps' loss to Wisconsin on Saturday.
Former Maryland guard Dez Wells consoles Melo Trimble after the Terps' loss to Wisconsin on Saturday.
Sung-Min Kim/Testudo Times

Maryland basketball has risen as high as the No. 2 national ranking this season, but its play hasn't always been representative of where the nation's second-best team should be in mid-February – especially on offense.

The Terps have some of the best offensive weapons in the nation but can't seem to put it all together consistently, as the team's defense has pulled more weight into its still-impressive 22-4 record. Defensively, the Terps are slotted No. 10 in the country in Ken Pomeroy's ratings.

Melo Trimble is having serious efficiency issues from the field, and though he has still put up numbers and is passing extremely well, he's had trouble shooting the ball with consistency.

In Maryland's loss to Michigan he shot 1-for-7, and in wins against Iowa and Purdue, 2-for-7, and 2-for-12, respectively.

At home against to Wisconsin, Trimble shot one his worst marks of his career, 1-for-14, and couldn't get shots to go from mid-range or deep. It was a much different story than his first try against Wisconsin where he shot 9-of-17 for 21 points.

"We just wanted to put more pressure on him," said Badger forward Vitto Brown. "I think we let him run around a little freely last game and it really hurt us, obviously. So [we held him] by shrinking the court whether it's helping off on the backside or having that weak-side guy come over when he makes it to the hole."

The pressure worked for Wisconsin, as Trimble turned the ball over five times. He played the polar opposite of his what was a bright performance in which he hit a game-winner in Madison.

"We just tried to make his shots as tough as possible. "You know, he's a great player," said Badgers forward Nigel Hayes. "I expect he'll be Big Ten Player of the Year, so he's gonna garner a lot of attention obviously with that. We tried to do our best to make him uncomfortable. He still was able to get to the free throw line, but fortunately for us he didn't have a terrific shooting night."

At the free throw line, it was business as usual for the Terps' leading scorer, converting on 8-of-10, but on the season he's getting there more than two times per game less than his freshman campaign. Most concerning is his dip in 3-point shooting percentage, which has gone from a stellar 41.9 percent a season ago to 33.3 percent.

He's been able to contribute in other ways, and his improved court vision has allowed to contribute to more than a third of Maryland's points on the season, but his shots look flat and lack of conversions on the offensive end are going to start to take a toll as they accumulate. Trimble's contributions to Maryland's offense are massive and irreplaceable.

The Terrapins and their star guard have less than a month to solidify an offensive identity. The odds are overwhelming that Trimble will start to look more like Trimble by the time postseason play starts. But either way, Maryland is likely to go where Trimble takes it.