At the beginning of practice the day after Maryland men’s basketball cruised to victory against Rhode Island on Nov. 9, coach Mark Turgeon approached Ricky Lindo.
“Do you know why you didn’t go back in the game?” Turgeon asked the 6-foot-8 forward, who had played less than a minute in the second half of the 73-55 drubbing. Lindo said he didn’t know why he featured for just seven minutes, finishing with three points.
The ninth-year coach had held the sophomore out of that contest because of bad body language. Lindo’s hard on himself, and he inadvertently allowed those frustrations to shine through.
On Tuesday, though, Lindo put together the best night of his young career. He was still the low-key player he generally is, with hardly a change in expression as he racked up a career-high 13 points to go along with seven rebounds against Fairfield. But Lindo displayed everything the Terps want from him — high-energy defending, aggressive rebounding and burgeoning offensive capabilities.
“Sometimes when freshmen become sophomores, they think that they need to be somebody else,” Turgeon said. “He just needs to be Ricky. If he’s Ricky, the rest will take care of itself.”
Ricky showed who Ricky is when he crashed the boards and pulled down the first of four offensive rebounds midway through the first half Tuesday before finishing at the rim through traffic. Later in the period, Lindo leaped up and tipped in a miss from guard Serrel Smith.
The Washington, D.C., native bounced up and down and high-fived his teammates, showing about as much excitement as he ever does on the court.
“He’s very even-keeled, he doesn’t show too much emotion. Even tonight, he had a great game, but he was still even-keeled,” guard Eric Ayala said. “He showed everybody a glimpse of what he could do and his potential. I think him, crashing up offensive glass, it just brings us to another athletic dynamic to the team.”
Lindo shot 6-for-6 in a season-high 21 minutes, adding three more close-in finishes in the second half — including an and-1 — as part of a standout performance in which he was a driving force in Maryland’s offense.
But the Terps don’t need offensive production from Lindo every night. After he finished with three points in 15 minutes in a season-opening win over Holy Cross, Turgeon said Lindo “worries sometimes too much” about contributing on offense, when in reality the team requires a lockdown defender who’s good on the glass.
As a freshman, Lindo rarely made an impact on offense. He averaged 1.6 points a game and attempted only 1.5 shots per game. It was his 119 rebounds, 15 steals and 15 blocks — and a lack of frontcourt depth — that allowed him to play 12.3 minutes per game. Maryland won’t say no to Lindo’s offensive display Tuesday night, though, especially when it didn’t compromise his defense.
“I just bring the energy and crash the boards and play defense,” Lindo said. “You know, offense is going to come. [Turgeon] recruited me to play defense and rebound, and that is really what I am good at. He just said, play my role and offense will develop.”
Early this season, Lindo had seen his time on the floor diminish somewhat before his 21-minute performance Tuesday. Turgeon has rotated through frontcourt options, such as Makhel Mitchell, Makhi Mitchell and Donta Scott, as he figures out which players can accompany forward Jalen Smith in key moments during bigger matchups.
Lindo’s understated role can often be overlooked. Rebounding and defending often don’t attract a spotlight or lead to highlight-reel plays. But against Fairfield, Lindo offered a glimpse at the heights he can reach, even if points on the stat sheet don’t typically indicate if the forward has done his job.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m just going to provide it,” Lindo said. “It’s not really important that I shoot all threes, we have scorers for that. I’m just here to rebound, defend, press the offensive glass and do what I need to do.”