Tim Cluess

Norvel Pelle unlikely to suit up for Iona in 2012-13

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Iona has gifted this season with an influx of transfers seen only by the likes of USC on any level — low, mid or high major — this season.

With as many as six eligible transfers this season, the Gaels were going to need all of them to make for the loss of players like Michael Glover and Scott Machado, who led the nation in assists last season.

That number of eligible transfers won’t get any bigger this season. Incoming freshman Norvel Pelle is unlikely to suit up this year, according to Adam Zagoria.

Pelle, a former St. John’s commitment, has been in limbo with his eligibility all season and as far back as the beginning of last season when he was supposed to enroll with the Red Storm. The 7-footer has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and it doesn’t look likely that it will happen anytime soon.

A source told SNY.tv that it all comes down to paperwork.

“He hasn’t been cleared by the NCAA,” a source close to the Iona basketball team told SNY.tv following Rutgers’ 81-73 victory over Iona at Madison Square Garden. “He went to so many schools, they’re still probably trying to track down his paperwork.”

Pelle is not currently on the Iona campus and he isn’t on the team’s official roster.

Iona has been average all season without Pelle, so there’s no reason to believe this affects the Gaels and coach Tim Cluess in any way. It would’ve improved the team’s post presence, but Pelle may never find his way to a college campus. He spent time at a number of schools, including a prep year, so if he hasn’t found a home 18 months into what was supposed to be his college career, it’s tough to believe it’ll happen at all.

David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)