Many members of the Maryland men's basketball team have lost more games this season than in any campaign they can remember growing up.
Rather than hang their heads, however, the Terps have taken the countless close losses as motivation, trying to close the gap between themselves and the upper echelon of the Big Ten.
On Saturday, when lowly Rutgers visits College Park, the human embodiment of that difference between winning and losing will be sitting courtside: former Maryland guard Melo Trimble.
"We've got a lot of pride," coach Mark Turgeon said. "We've won a lot of games the past three years and we expect to be good. We think we're going to win every game."
Road games are where the team has missed Trimble the most, guard Kevin Huerter said. The Terps went 18-12 on the road in Trimble's three seasons, highlighted by an 8-2 mark last season.
"We would go on the road, he always had the same face, the same game face," Huerter said. "That's why we were so good on the road. We had someone like him who, we knew what we were going to get from him game in and game out."
Maryland tries to emulate that, Huerter said, which means he doesn't expect the team to get a boost with Trimble — now with the NBA G League's Iowa Wolves — and former Terps forward Jake Layman, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, back in College Park during the NBA All-Star break.
"Hopefully we don't need extra people in the building to come in energized," Huerter said. "But obviously we're going to be pretty excited to see him sitting courtside."
Rutgers (13-15, 3-12) is tied for 11th in the Big Ten, and given Maryland's success at home, the Scarlet Knights should offer the Terps a strong opportunity for their seventh conference win.
Ideally for Maryland, the game won't go down to the wire, where the team has struggled throughout the season without Trimble. The Terps have gone 4-8 this year in games decided by six points or fewer, after going 31-8 in such games during Trimble's time in College Park.
Late in Maryland's 70-66 loss at Nebraska on Tuesday, the Terps tried to pass to forward Bruno Fernando but couldn't, forcing them to improvise. With under a minute to go, guard Anthony Cowan took a 3-pointer, which Turgeon felt was the right play, but the shot was blocked.
While that possession sealed another tough loss for the Terps, it doesn't discourage them in the long run.
"We're just all competitive individuals. Every game we go out we try go out there to win, regardless of the implications of the game," guard Darryl Morsell said. "This is just a bump in the road."