Shaun Noriega, Kamari Murphy

Report: Former USF guard Shaun Noriega headed to UT-Pan American

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For the second time in as many days new UT-Pan American head coach Dan Hipsher has landed a fifth-year player, as it was reported that former USF guard Shaun Noriega would transfer to the school.

On Tuesday the school announced the addition of Javorn Farrell, who will use his final season of eligibility at UTPA after spending his first four years at UMass. Noriega and Farrell represent solid pickups for Hipsher and his staff, but both are coming off of 2012-13 seasons that were shut down due to injury.

Noriega played in eight games for the Bulls before suffering a foot injury that would end his season. For his career at USF the 6-4 guard averaged 4.4 points per contest and shot 36.4% from beyond the arc.

As for the 6-5 Farrell, he didn’t play in a single game last season for the Minutemen after having his left ankle operated on in August. As a junior Farrell averaged 6.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game for UMass in just over 21 minutes of action.

“We are really excited to have Javorn as a member of our team,” Hipsher stated in the school release. “He has played and performed well at the highest levels of college basketball. He has graduated at UMass with a degree in sociology and brings maturity and leadership to our program.

“Javorn really fits our style of play in that he can play multiple positions with great skill and has a strong feel for the game. He’s a great addition to the program.”

While both Noriega and Farrell spent a lot of time off the floor last season, their additions will help the Broncs as the embark on their debut season in the Western Athletic Conference.

With UTPA’s top three scorers from last season no longer with the program the leading returning scorer is senior forward Justin Leathers, who averaged 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest in 2012-13.

Neither Noriega nor Farrell were “explosive” scorers at their original stops, but it’s safe to say that both will have ample opportunities to score in 2013-14.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.