Much of the off-season news around Maryland’s basketball program had to do with the mass departures of some of its talented players. In all, seven players from the 2013-14 roster decided to transfer, leaving various questions swirling. The mass exits coupled with three consecutive lackluster seasons without a tournament appearance, created rumblings of whether Coach Mark Turgeon’s job was in jeopardy.
But on Tuesday night Maryland basketball was not about transfers, hot seats, or turmoil; instead it was about being crowned CBE Hall of Fame Classic Champions after upsetting #13 ranked Iowa State. Last night Maryland showed that despite the many off-season departures, the cupboard was not bare, as Coach Turgeon still had enough players to compete, such as the veteran Dez Wells, Evan Smotrycz, Jake Layman, Damonte Dodd and the talented recruits Melo Trimble, Jared Nickens, and Dion Wiley.
The backcourt of Wells and Trimble formed a formidable duo and proved to be a big factor for the Terps in their two tournament victories against Arizona State and Iowa State. Trimble, the stocky freshman lead guard from Bishop O’ Connell High School (the same high school that produced Kendall Marshall) had 31 points and made 4 threes against Arizona State. Such solid play from a freshman in his first big stage event isn’t common, but teammate Dez Wells was not surprised: I’ve seen Melo play and I knew he was going to keep his cool. It makes it easy for everyone else to have a point guard who is so poised.” Wells, the elder statesman on Maryland’s roster, was huge down the stretch of the game against Arizona State, making tough floaters in the lane to seal the deal for the Terps. He finished the game with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals.
Against Iowa State, no one scored over 15 points, but it wasn’t needed because the Terps turned out a great defensive effort and shared the scoring responsibilities en route to a 72-63 victory. The explosive Cyclones shot a meager 30% from the field and 22% from three while looking out of sync all night. Terps’ freshman guard Jared Nickens came of the bench and scored 15 points to go along with 14 from Dez Wells, 15 from Jake Layman, and 11 from Melo Trimble, who was later named MVP of the tournament.
This was a very big win for Mark Turgeon and the Maryland program as they head into their inaugural season in the Big 10–arguably the toughest conference in America. These wins will be resume boosters for when tournament time comes around, especially the victory over Iowa State, which basically had homecourt advantage. Coach Turgeon’s team will have to build on this performance, but last night was a special moment for the program.