Terps look to be de­vel­op­ing a per­ma­nent back­court duo

Cowan’s ar­rival lets Trim­ble re­turn to his nat­u­ral po­si­tion at shoot­ing guard

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball coach Mark Tur­geon said af­ter Fri­day night’s sea­son-open­ing 62-56 win over Amer­i­can that his start­ing lineup and ro­ta­tion of re­serves could change by the time the Terps take the court at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter on Tues­day against Ge­orge­town.

Yet, based on who started and fin­ished against the Ea­gles, it seems likely that most of the changes will come in the front­court. It also ap­pears that the back­court com­bi­na­tion he en­vi­sioned when he was re­cruit­ing An­thony Cowan Jr. is quickly be­com­ing a re­al­ity.

Though it seems doubt­ful that Tur­geon will again start four guards against the Hoyas, one of the big­gest teams Mary­land will face this sea­son, the start­ing back­court Tues­day, 6:30 p.m. TV: Fox Sports 1 Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM

of ju­nior Melo Trim­ble and Cowan will likely be un­changed. It might be even be per­ma­nent.

With a team that will rely mostly on its guards and wing play­ers for scor­ing, the pair­ing of Trim­ble and Cowan ap­pears dy­namic. Cowan’s pres­ence lets Trim­ble move back to his nat­u­ral po­si­tion at shoot­ing guard.

That hap­pened more of­ten than not Fri­day as the Terps made their now-trade­mark early-sea­son, lategame come­back against a smaller, less ath­letic team. While Cowan and fel­low fresh­man starter Kevin Huerter have to do a bet­ter job of tak­ing care of the ball, both showed they could make plays down the stretch.

Putting Cowan at the point seemed to help Trim­ble stay ag­gres­sive and at­tack the bas­ket.

“I’m just play­ing bas­ket­ball,” Trim­ble said when asked how pair­ing with Cowan af­fects his game. Play­ing point guard “puts a lot of pres­sure on me, bring­ing the ball up, try­ing to be ag­gres­sive as well. I look at him as a smaller ver­sion of me. He can do the same things I can do. It’s go­ing to help me a lot.”

Trim­ble fin­ished with 22 points on 9-of-18 shoot­ing in a team-high 34 min­utes, and played with the kind of verve he of­ten showed as a fresh­man. Cowan scored 12, in­clud­ing eight straight to help the Terps fin­ish the first half on a 12-2 run and take a six-point lead. He also had a teamhigh nine re­bounds in 27 min­utes.

Both had four turnovers, com­bin­ing for nearly half of Mary­land’s 18. Trim­ble also had four of the team’s seven as­sists, while Cowan had none. It was sim­i­lar to Trim­ble’s col­lege de­but two years ago against Wag­ner, when he scored 13 points and had no as­sists.

Tur­geon said it was Cowan’s de­fense that was the spark.

“I think An­thony got it go­ing de­fen­sively. He got a cou­ple of steals, de­flec­tions — I thought that was big on his part,” Tur­geon said of Cowan’s play to­ward the end of the first half, when one of those de­flec­tions turned into a fast-break layup and a three­p­oint play.

“I think Coach wants our whole team’s iden­tity to be de­fense,” Cowan said ear­lier in the week. “That’s one thing I make sure to come in with ev­ery day is to have the most in­ten­sity on the de­fen­sive end.”

Af­ter Amer­i­can closed to within three points with 1:37 re­main­ing, the ball was in the hands of ei­ther Trim­ble, who scored on a layup to push the Terps up by five, or Cowan, An­thony Cowan Jr., shoot­ing over Amer­i­can’s Char­lie Jones (Mount Saint Joseph), had12 points and a team-high nine re­bounds in Fri­day night’s 62-56 win. who was fouled af­ter the last of fel­low fresh­man Justin Jack­son’s nine re­bounds and made a pair of free throws. Trim­ble added a free throw with four sec­onds left.

Mostly used at point guard at St. John’s Col­lege High in Wash­ing­ton, Cowan was of­ten pushed to shoot­ing guard down the stretch to free him up as a scorer, sim­i­lar to the way Tur­geon is us­ing Trim­ble this sea­son. Cowan said Thurs­day that he is com­fort­able play­ing ei­ther role.

“We work on it in prac­tice. In the game it comes nat­u­ral,” Cowan said about play­ing off the ball. “It wasn’t a big ad­just­ment. Me and [Trim­ble], we can play both sides.”

Not sur­pris­ingly, Trim­ble and Cowan come from sim­i­lar high school pro­grams.

Trim­ble was con­sid­ered the best player in the Wash­ing­ton Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence as a se­nior at Bishop O’Con­nell in North­ern Vir­ginia three years ago. Cowan was the Most Valu­able Player in lead­ing St. John’s past DeMatha — and five-star prospect Markelle Fultz, now at Wash­ing­ton — in the WCAC cham­pi­onship game last win­ter.

“It def­i­nitely helped me a lot,” Cowan said. “In the WCAC, day in and day out, you have to come in and play against another player that’s also go­ing high D-1 [Divi­sion I]. There’s not a night off you can take. That’s why it trans­fers to col­lege bas­ket­ball. Any team you play, they al­ways come out and they’re go­ing to take their best shot.”

That will cer­tainly hap­pen Tues­day, when the Hoyas aim to avenge last year’s 75-71 loss at Xfinity Cen­ter to then-No. 3 Mary­land. While Trim­ble has never played at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter, it’s very fa­mil­iar to Cowan.

Hav­ing once served as a ball boy for the Hoyas, Cowan is look­ing for­ward to his re­turn as an op­po­nent.

GAIL BUR­TON/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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