Mark Turgeon defends Melo Trimble's ability to get to the line

Melo Trimble's ability to get to the free-throw line has been a major part of the Maryland men's basketball team's offensive success this season as well as a source of frustration for coaches of opposing teams, particularly in the Big Ten Conference.

After Trimble went 12 of 12 from the line in Saturday's 76-73 victory at Penn State, Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers voiced his displeasure with the 6-foot-3 freshman point guard getting more calls than his own star, 6-4 senior D.J. Newbill.


"It makes no sense," Chambers said. "And if I didn't complain, Newbill would have never got to the foul line. Because Trimble gets there 12 times, and he's a freshman, and he's on the road. It's a joke. It's a joke the way we're officiated. It's disappointing."

Newbill went to the foul line nine times, hitting six. Though he finished with a game-high 25 points, Newbill missed two critical free throws down the stretch, while Trimble scored Maryland's last six points, four of them on free throws.

On Monday's Big Ten coaches' teleconference, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said that "Melo deserves to go to the line."

"I think he deserves to go to the line a lot more," Turgeon continued. "He gets beat up quite a bit."

Asked if he is concerned that what Chambers said might impact the way the Terps, particularly Trimble, get officiated in future games, Turgeon said, "Hopefully it doesn't affect the way the game is being called. It's been worse for Melo on the road to get the foul line.

"It's an art, he's good at it and he gets fouled a lot. Hopefully their comments don't affect the way officials call Melo, because he's really good at drawing fouls."

Later on the teleconference, Chambers seemed to choose the high road by praising Trimble rather than blaming the officials.

"I think Melo does a great job, and I knew that coming in and in studying him, even before the first game," he said. "No one [in the Big Ten] does it better than him in getting to the line — maybe [Ohio State freshman D'Angelo] Russell, maybe Dez [Wells].


"He does a fantastic job of making refs make calls. He forces them to make calls. And you know what? If it's working for him, keep doing it. He's a great foul shooter. He's really intelligent with his speed and changing directions and changing speeds for that matter. He creates fouls. If I'm [Turgeon] I keep going with that high ball screen and get that kid in the paint."

Chambers was not the first Big Ten coach this season to complain to the media about Trimble's ability to draw fouls. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo suggested that Trimble exaggerated contact by snapping his neck back after Trimble went 12 for 14 from the line in Maryland's double-overtime win in East Lansing on Dec. 30.

Interestingly, after Izzo's initial comments, Trimble's ability to draw fouls fell off, particularly on the road. It also coincided with Trimble quietly dealing with back and leg pain for more than a month, which took away some of his explosiveness and aggressiveness going to the basket.

After the Terps beat Indiana at Xfinity Center on Wednesday, Turgeon said that his star freshman was starting to feel healthy again. After missing 14 straight field goal attempts over a little more than two games — including going 0 for 5 in Maryland's 64-58 win over Penn State in College Park on Feb. 4 — Trimble has heated up.

Over the past three games, Trimble has made 19 of 30 shots from the field, including 5 of 9 on 3-pointers. Though senior guard Dez Wells led the Terps with 22 points at Penn State, including hitting all seven of his free throws, Chambers said the difference in the game was Trimble.

"You know what Dez is capable of and what he's going to do," Chambers said. "He was just tremendous. He shot very well against us, but it was Trimble, without question. I had to change my defenses up. I had to make in-game adjustments in the second half just to try to slow him down, which was a mighty task in itself.


"He was the little engine that could. He did everything. He made guys better. He got into the paint too often and he got 20 [points]. We did a much better job on him in College Park, but he's back to being himself. You could tell there's a little extra step in his speed Saturday night."

Trimble — who is 157 of 179 (87.7 percent) from the line this season — leads the Big Ten in free-throw attempts, makes and percentage. Newbill has taken the second-most free throws in the conference (175).

Turgeon said he tries not to pay attention to what his counterparts have said about Trimble's penchant for getting fouled, even Izzo's comments about the Terps guard being Melo-dramatic. Maryland's coach said the fact that Trimble is a freshman shouldn't impact whether he gets calls.

"I don't think what year he is [should have] anything to do with it," Turgeon said. "Young kids can be really good. It's been pretty obvious in today's world. Melo is getting to where physically he's like a senior. They should keep calling it the way it should be called."