What is better than a buzzer beater, you ask? A buzzer beater in someone else’s arena. I’m talking put the crowd to sleep like a baby. The noise from the bench is incredible; when you heard that gasp… The whole building knew what’s happening. Melo would get the ball, cross, cross, quick shuffle, pull up… BANG.
Back in 2016 there were three things on my mind at away games:
Don’t be the last guy to the bus (not a tough feat to accomplish with D-Stone on the mob)
Don’t forget your jersey or shoes
Create pandemonium on the bench at all times while getting into it with fans
It isn’t always easy. Sometimes the opposing student section is just flat out mean, and sometimes the old people in the stands are the worst ones when it comes to yelling at the bench. So to all you old heads, word of advice, if you are going to say something you better make it really hurtful - because, well, if you are in the stands with the Iowa yellow and black or Wisconsin red and white windbreaker from 1990… let’s just say it wouldn’t be tough to attack your life. So seriously old guys, if you are going come at me with something, it better be a cheap shot.
We were in Milwaukie, Wisconsin. Gym is as “pro-like” as any in the Big10 and it is a beast to play at, but it isn’t student section heavy. I mean they have a student section, but it’s just more old people coming to the games with their families... If you are an old person that goes to games with your family, I have respect for you, not saying I don’t; it’s just that when you start going at my neck, I’m going to go right back at yours. So don’t be mad when I yell some sh*t back at you and you didn’t have time to cover your kid’s ears first. You’re the one asking for trouble here. And back to the 90’s windbreakers….. if you’re not a Maryland fan, there’s just something about you that I just don’t like man.
Anyways, we get to the gym for our early afternoon game and everyone is amped up. I’m talking to Jake and Melo in the locker room before the game as they are passing out our shoes (our managers take our shoes at the hotel after shoot-around and then give them back to us before the game) and all is good. Until 2 people don’t get their shoes… and they’re not just temporarily misplaced, they’re literally nowhere to be found. Guess who’s shoes were missing? ….Jake and Melo’s. Now if it were me, I would be scared to death, but it wouldn’t be THAT big of a deal. I mean I honestly can wear flip flops to half the games and be alright. I didn’t even consider putting my jersey on for this game, so no shoes would’ve been manageable. But it wasn't me. It was Jake f*cking Layman and Melo Trimble. There was no, ‘ehh oh well, just sit this game out and we will buy you another pair later on.’ This was a pretty big deal, and it was a definite code red for the managers.
That being said.. It was hilarious. At one point I looked over and saw a manager praying for the shoes to come back. Haha. Literally hands folded, fingers interlocked and praying with his eyes shut. Everyone was running around and screaming “FIND THE SHOES, FIND THE SHOES.” The locker room was mix of utter chaos and mass panic.
Editor’s Note: I was nervous because I wore the same size shoe as Melo. I was just thinking, ‘Damn… I came all this way and I’m really gonna be wearing flip flops on the bench in street clothes.’ And yes, I would have had to give up my shoes haha. (I would have gladly done it. But the crowd would have killed me. I probably would have wore a walking boot just to make them think I was hurt.)
Everyone was trying to hide the situation from our head manager because we all knew he would have been so pissed. But luckily when he heard about the incident, he came through as clutch as ever and had packed extra shoes for certain guys. Could you imagine if he didn’t?? Melo would be in my shoes, Jake would be wearing Reebok’s from the Walmart across the street, and I’d be in the South Pole in my socks. That would have been one hell of a story... Glad the shoe thing worked out though.
Warm ups came and went with no problems, and then finally (after all of the shoe drama) the game began with us playing well on their court. We were the number 2 team in the land, so we were selling out every single arena. The student section was pretty good I guess, but it was the number of windbreaker comments from the crowd that fired me up that day - especially the things they were saying to my teammate, Diamond Stone, who as many know is a Wisconsin native. He was Mr. Basketball there and a 4 time State Champion... AKA they all believed he should have gone to Wisconsin. But it didn’t work out that way, and he headed to UMD, and guess what… the windbreakers didn’t like that, not one bit. The entire game was ruthless, racist, and downright mean. It is rare for me to say that word, but the fans were terrible that day. Which, created an even better moment for the dramatics that were soon to take place.
With about 2 minutes left, you knew it was going to be a nail biter to the very end… AKA time for you to be a man (check out my last blog post “Boys to Men” for more info on this reference).
Editor’s Note: Our team consisted of grown ups and one not so grown up at the time, but he was at the end of the bench down in the South Pole, so it was all good.
Melo Trimble grew up that day. Wisconsin’s guard, Bronson Koening, had just hit a dagger on the other end to tie the game (that man was a nightmare) and we had the ball with 24 seconds left. Melo gets it and starts dribbling down the court; we have 2 timeouts, but we also have an All-American. Melo stood and wasted time for the next 10 tics, and then started making his move with 6 seconds left.
Quick Story: The first time I met Melo I was a young lad, freshly moved in to my first apartment. To my surprise, I found out that I was going to be one of Melo Trimble’s roommates. When they told me that, I remember thinking to myself, ‘hmm...odd that I’m paired with the legend Melo Trimble, but yeah let’s make it happen.’ Shortly after the move in, him and I decided to go to the gym to get shots up, and I am telling you - the guy did through the legs cross, through the legs cross into a pull up three at the top of the key 1,000 times in a row… To this day I do that move every time I work out because of him. Now check out the video below and the move he makes going into that dagger. Like clockwork. Just shows how permanent practice is. I guarantee you he was not thinking “okay, let’s go through the legs cross, through…” no, he was doing what he made permanent. I was just lucky enough to see the guy work and understand how permanence was created.
It was the greatest noise in the world… The gasp, the little kids crying, watching the windbreakers shaking their heads. It was incredible. The noise in that gym when he made that shot will forever ring in my ear. We are walking off the floor pointing at the windbreakers laughing. The 8th grade kids that just learned to cuss and think they are cool are screaming profanities at the top of their lungs. The people that understand basketball smiling like, ‘man, that’s a bad dude’… It was freakin’ awesome man. Legendary day. Legendary night.
Another Quick Story before I go: Kevin Huerter came on his visit way back in the day. Dude was 6’7, red hair, and quite frankly - I didn’t like the guy. Thought he was weird. I remember walking away from talking to him for the first time like, ‘Wow…This dude blows.” And it isn’t like he did anything weird or wrong, I’ve just found that I don’t like people when I first meet them for some reason. Kevin ended up committing and got to campus the following year. After a few months I told him “Man, I thought you were gonna suck.” Apparently, Kevin didn’t feel the same way and was shocked by my comment. He loved me, people. From the very beginning he said that he thought we were going to be best friends. In fact, he may never admit it, but I’m pretty sure I’m a big reason why he committed. Lol, maybe not. But he was actually stunned to hear that our first impressions had been so opposite. Turns out the guy ended up being right. Dude ended up becoming my best friend.
This speaks volumes about the players Coach Turgeon and his staff recruit. Every single year we get new guys that are great players, but more than anything, great people. Take it from a guy who came here from Indiana knowing no one. My roommate ended up being Melo Trimble, a guy that was famous throughout Maryland and recognizable by most of the country. He had no reason to be friends with me. In fact, he probably thought I was a nerd or something just the way I thought of Kevin at first. But he ended up being one of my best friends and someone I would spend most of my time with while he was here.
I think that’s gotta be the best part about being on a team. I’m going to come out of this basketball program with some friends for life. The coolest part is that a lot of these guys are in the top 1% of basketball players, but you’d never know it if you met them off the court somewhere. Jake Layman, Kevin Huerter, Melo Trimble, Anthony Cowan, Darryl Morsell, etc. You’d never know they were big ball players because they don’t carry themselves that way. They treat everyone with respect and off the court, there are no ego’s. I was lucky enough to get to know a lot of great people who will really be my brothers for life.
Last week I asked you all how you felt about Tilted Bench/South Pole/Bench Mob merch, and you all seemed really receptive of the idea! A couple of you have reached out with suggestions and offers to help - keep it coming people. I really appreciate all of it. I also have loved hearing all of the questions that you have and want answered. I’m going to keep answering them as we go, so keep those coming too.
I hope everyone has a good rest of their week! I’ve been sick (hence #TiltedTuesday skipping a week) and it has not been a good time! So everyone stay healthy and always remember to use a ton of hand sanitizer - But first, pass me a towel buddy, it’s cold down here.
Virginia: Lost to those dudes by 5. It really shows that our offense can catch fire on anyone. Virginia statistically is the best defensive team in the past 5 years of basketball… We shot upwards of 50% and scored over 70 points. It was a positive move in the right direction.
Penn State: These guys are going to beat people. A lot of people. They are always a tough out for us. The biggest mistake people make is “they aren’t that good” … No, that isn’t a thing. Big10 play everyone is good because unless your coach changes, the scout is going to be similar but updated, and plays will be the same or close. These games will always be competitive. It makes winning in the Big10 that much tougher.
Purdue: We went to Purdue and just didn’t have enough offense. Our defense is going to be scary - we defend people extremely well and understand scouting reports even better. There were some unlucky things that happened here and there but this game really showed how good our defense can be. Offensively we just need work against the double. Pretty simple really, not worried about it at all. And yes people, we get it… “You want the ball inside to Bruno” but if he is getting doubled every single time and then the offense stalls, you can’t do that. There is a reason Ant had to shoot the bail out shot clock running down shots and it isn’t because of our offense… If we could give it to Bruno to score 1v1 we would, believe me.
Loyola Chicago: This game was huge. We held a good team to 41 points in a college game. That is disgusting… Not many teams have held a team to 41. Offensively, again, it is just working against the double. That comes with time. Bruno cannot be expected to make the perfect play every single time when it is only his 7th game ever working against a double team. And no this isn’t a 3rd grade C team double team, this is grown men with no defensive three seconds type of double team. These guys just sit there and wait. It is not easy to play against, but Coach Turgeon addressed some things and we’ve got it going now. Offense will come.
Again - we’re only 9 games into season... Young team... We got this.
Bench Warnings have been brought up to a 9 count on the season with the referees all over me. They literally don’t leave our bench alone. I am told to sit down every minute. But in terms of real bench warnings - we are at 9. Leading the country. Literally.
TERRELL TRILLION TRACKER
Kind of stuck. Haven’t played in a while. Still leading the country (see @clubtrillion on Twitter). Game against Loyola MD tonight, should be able to rack up a couple more… Hopefully.