When Donnie Tyndall accepted the offer to become Tennessee’s new head coach a month ago, the program’s lack of interior depth was something that needed to be addressed. It’s safe to say that Tyndall and his staff have done just that on the recruiting trail, with four of their eight additions being forwards.
The fourth addition is former Ohio signee Tariq Owens, a 6-foot-10 forward from Laurel, Md. who committed to Tennessee on Wednesday. The news was first reported by Evan Daniels of Scout.com. Owens’ decision moves Tennessee back to the scholarship limit (13) for the 2014-15 season, one day after it was announced that reserve point guard Darius Thompson would be transferring to Virginia.
Owens picked Tennessee over Temple and UT-Martin, and he’d also received offers from programs such as Florida State, Miami and Seton Hall in the weeks following his decision to reopen his recruitment.
Owens joins a front court that will include FGCU graduate transfer Eric McKnight, fellow freshmen Jabari McGhee and Willie Carmichael and senior Rawane Ndiaye. Tennessee also welcomes back wings Josh Richardson, who is the team’s leading returning scorer, and Derek Reese.
Tyndall and his staff hit the ground running from a recruiting standpoint, with the perimeter rotation being bolstered by the additions of graduate transfer Ian Chiles (IUPUI), junior college transfer Kevin Punter and highly-regarded freshman Detrick Mostella. There will be an adjustment period to Tyndall’s style of play, but thanks to the work of he and his staff the Volunteers are capable of returning to the NCAA tournament in 2015.
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…)
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)