Melo Trimble had the quietest first half of his freshman season in Wednesday night’s win over North Carolina Central. He attempted one shot, and had no trips to the foul line. He committed one turnover and had three assists, one of which set up a Jake Layman three-pointer that capped a remarkable run of five straight threes from Maryland in the first half.
Maryland has relied on Trimble offensively for much of the past three weeks, and as it continues to wade through the rehabilitation processes of Dez Wells and Evan Smotrycz through this month, it will continue to run offensive sets for the point guard. But Wednesday night was a prime example of Trimble again playing with restraint, blending into the background offensively for much of the first 20 minutes.
Trimble was rarely beat on the defensive end too, and his conditioning was ramped up another level with 34 minutes played. Mark Turgeon had hinted Tuesday that he was going to try and build-in more rest for Trimble this week after he played 37 minutes against Winthrop last Saturday, but that had to wait until after Wednesday.
“He can handle it. We’ll rest him tomorrow,” Maryland Coach Mark Turgeon said. “He’ll go light…I was really able to help Jake out more, because Jon Graham gave us great minutes in the second half. I couldn’t do it as much with Melo. He’ll be fine. He’s young, those guys don’t get tired.”
Trimble picked his spots offensively in the second half; he missed a runner that hit the front of the iron early in the half and only made one other field goal (he finished 2-of-4 from the field). But he continued to show an uncanny ability to draw contact on drives and get to the foul line, where he shot a perfect 8-for-8. He entered the day second in the Big Ten in both free throw shooting percentage (88.6) and free throw attempts, which went up to 78 after tonight’s win.
It has become a major aspect of Trimble’s offensive production; he’s been to the foul line 14 times in each of three separate games this season, and he’s shot eight free throws or more in three straight games. It’s a byproduct, he said, of attention to detail when he penetrates into the lane during practices. But its also skill he’s developed by watching hours of the James Harden of the Houston Rockets, who is considered one of the NBA’s best tacticians when it comes to drawing contact and getting to the line.
“It’s just something I’ve been practicing, knowing how to draw the contact. I’ve just been learning since I’ve been watching NBA players like James Harden. When he gets to the basket, he knows how to draw the foul,” Trimble said. “I watch how he does it, and I put it into my game.”