Donta Scott, Melo Trimble Talk Expectations for Maryland Basketball’s 2022-23 Season

Maryland basketball is buzzing one day after adding four-star Jamie Kaiser to the 2023 class alongside St. Frances guard Jahnathan Lamothe. With Maryland’s eye set on the next local four-star, Maryland remains roughly three months ways from the first game of the Kevin Willard era.

Junior forward Donta Scott knows that with Maryland coming off its first losing season in 30 years, the goal is to get back to the NCAA Tournament as the veteran settles into a feature role once more.

“There’s always confidence to win and make it to the NCAA Tournament as we did last year,” Scott told Inside the Black and Gold. “That’s one thing I want to accomplish this year. We have big things coming and the sky’s the limit. We got a lot of guys that work and a lot of guys that don’t run away from work. They just compete, and I feel like coach [Kevin] Willard and all the assistant coaches will have our backs and put us in the right position to win this year.”

 

Former Maryland star Melo Trimble knows the level of expectations that Terp fans have for the basketball program. The former four-star prospect out of Bishop O’Connell joined Maryland after four consecutive seasons of no postseason play. Trimble became the needed instant impact through his freshman year as he averaged over 16 points per game while starting all 35 games, helping Maryland clinch a four-seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. It would be the first of three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances with the last ending in Maryland’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003, but as the Terps look to get back to postseason play with fans craving a deep tournament run, Trimble urges patience heading into Willard’s first year.

 

“I think the biggest thing is it’s their first year with a new coach and stuff like that. I don’t want people to expect them to be great right away. When I first came to Maryland, no one expected us, and look what happened. I feel like everyone has to go in there with a positive attitude. Even the fans, because believe it or not, we need the fans to be positive. I learned that when I was here and when I play overseas [now]. We need positive fans because [they’re] going to help the players play a lot better. So, I think the biggest thing is [letting] the players play their game and let the coach get his first year in,” Trimble added. “The fans have to be all the way with us or not with us at all.”

 

Aside from recent results on the recruiting trail, one aspect that has charged the Maryland fanbase is the improved non-conference schedule. Maryland will take part in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, a mid-November tournament that kicks off with a matchup against Saint Louis before facing either Miami or Providence, while they’ll also host UCLA and travel to the Barclays Center to face Tennessee in December. That was a known perk about Willard and a trait coveted by athletic director Damon Evans during the winter offseason coaching search, but the high-profile matchups give Maryland a chance to prepare on a higher stage heading into conference play.

 

“I also like to challenge our guys and I think it’s when you play a tough non-conference schedule, it prepares you for the Big Ten grind. We have a stretch in December that’s gonna be extremely, extremely challenging but at the same time, we’re gonna have a stretch in January and February that’s gonna be extremely challenging,” Willard said during his appearance on Hear the Turtle last week. “So, I think it just helps you prepare. It gives your players a chance to play against some of the best players in the country every night. And I think it’s worked. My players always enjoyed playing against big games, whether it’s in the Barclays or the Garden, playing in a good tournament against really good teams, being on TV. I think even as a coach, I enjoy the challenge. I think it’s something that’s really necessary to kind of get ready for Big Ten play.”

 

Quotes via Anthony Brown