COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Excuse the 2015-16 version of the Maryland Terrapins for their relative unfamiliarity with an opponent the school hasn’t scheduled locally since the Joe Smith era and hasn’t played in College Park since 1973. Excuse point guard Melo Trimble for letting on he “really didn’t know” the much-anticipated Georgetown-Maryland showdown Nov. 17 at Xfinity Center was “that big of a deal.” Excuse power forward Robert Carter for not knowing “too much history,” but maybe, just maybe, “after we win I’ll go back and look at a few [YouTube] clips.” Excuse wing Jake Layman for admitting a victory over the Jesuit school on the D.C. border would “just be another win for us.”
Even UMD head coach Mark Turgeon, who is privy to the history (or lack thereof recently) between the two schools, admitted he hadn’t spoken to his predecessors about why the one-time rivalry ended. Turgeon later acknowledged he “hadn’t really studied Georgetown.”
No, names like Lefty Driesell, John Thompson Jr., Gary Williams and so on and so forth down the line do not resonate with today’s squad. But don’t think the modern-day Terps won’t have a little extra incentive heading into the primetime 9 p.m. ESPN-televised bout. After all, the two squads know each other quite well -- even if the programs haven’t met since the 2008 Old Spice Classic.
Trimble is friends with Georgetown guard Tre Campbell and forward Marcus Derrickson, and competed against several other Hoyas on the AAU circuit back in high school. Carter, meanwhile, played against most of the Georgetown players the last two years in the Kenner Summer League. And both Turgeon and the Hoyas’ John Thompson III recruited, and hosted, many of the same prospects -- who now reside on one of the two rosters.
That includes the sophomore Trimble, who Thompson took a look at but opted to pass on.
“After I went up there and visited all day and didn't get an offer,” Trimble said of Georgetown, “I kind of lost interest.”
Said Turgeon: “Being in the same area, you follow [Georgetown]. You get to know the coaches. They have a lot of local players we recruited and vice versa. . . . It’s great for the fans, great for the area, great for college basketball. It’s exciting … it’s good for our area, I think we needed it.”
The friendly feud took another twist Nov. 16 when the subject of Trimble’s died-blonde streaks was broached. See, last March, then-Hoyas junior D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera came out with a similar look, drawing the ire of several on social media. Smith-Rivera was accused of copying his crosstown “rival,” Trimble, who claims to be the first collegiate athlete to sport the hairdo. Even so, Smith-Rivera kept his yellow frosting . . . until a week or so ago when he shaved his head.
“It’s only right he cuts his hair, because I wear it better,” Trimble quipped Nov. 16. “[New York Giants receiver] Odell Beckham started the haircut . . . but I perfected it (laughs).”
The Trimble-Smith-Rivera confrontation could actually extend to the basketball court, making for another intriguing story line. The Big East Preseason Player of the Year, Smith-Rivera starts at the point for the Hoyas and figures to present another tough matchup for Trimble.
It’s not nearly as fascinating as the hairdo debate, but it’s something else for fans to pay attention to.
“I just know [Smith-Rivera] is a great scorer, and he leads his team as a point guard,” Trimble said.
Added Turgeon: “No matter who Melo plays against, they’re coming after him. He’s got to get used to it.”
Turgeon could have said the same in regards to the rest of his team. Unlike last season, Maryland’s not going to sneak up on anyone in 2015-16. The Terps are the preseason No. 3, after all, and have been circled in red on many opponents’ calendars.
“Last year, teams weren’t really worried about us,” Trimble said. “I think a lot of teams are going to bring their ‘A’ game against us this year.”
Starting with the Hoyas Nov. 17. Although Maryland is favored by double-digits at home, and although Georgetown just lost its season-opener against Radford, taking some of the national-luster off the bout, the Terps are fully expecting a hungry opponent out to prove Game 1 was an aberration.
“You'd much rather play a team after they've won by 20 than lose a tough game,” said Turgeon, who noted that he’s unsure Georgetown-Maryland will continue beyond this year and next. “But because it's early, it's a big game, we'll be dialed in and ready. Georgetown will be even more focused because of what happened [against Radford]."
If Maryland prevails, it will move to 2-0 and give UMD its first significant victory of the season. But, if the Terps happen to trip up, falling victim to an early-season-unranked-but-still-potent foe, well, perhaps Turgeon put it best:
“The world’s not going to come to an end for either one of us if we lose.”
Good thing the grizzled Maryland faithful weren’t in the room. Lose to Georgetown? In College Park?
Talk about a downer.
“The history of this game and what it means to the people in this area … And just how intense the games were back then and how much it means for Maryland to win and Georgetown to win,” said Layman, who pointed out the Hoyas’ Princeton offense will be a challenge to defend. “To us, it would just be another win. But more importantly, it’s what [a victory] means to the school and what it means to the history.”
At least someone gets it.