Mark Turgeon (AP Photo)

Maryland loses forward Charles Mitchell, adds grad transfer Richaud Pack

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Thursday’s been a busy day for the Maryland basketball program, as Mark Turgeon announced both an addition and a departure. The addition is former North Carolina A&T shooting guard Richaud Pack, who averaged 17.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. As a graduate transfer he’ll be eligible immediately, giving the Terrapins at the very least additional depth and experience on the perimeter.

We’re excited to welcome Richaud to the University of Maryland,” Turgeon said in the release. “He comes from a great family and I really enjoyed getting to know Richaud and his mother, Kaija, during this process. Richaud is a great shooter and scorer and will fit in well with our team and system.

“He will have an opportunity to further his education in business administration, a field he is very passionate about.”

Maryland’s lost three players from its backcourt this offseason, with Seth Allen (Virginia Tech), Nick Faust (undecided after originally committing to Oregon State) and Roddy Peters (South Florida) all deciding to transfer. That left Jake Layman, Dez Wells and some talented yet inexperienced options, point guard Romelo Trimble, shooting guard Dion Wiley and wing Jared Nickens, in the perimeter rotation prior to the addition of Pack.

As for the departure, that would be rising junior forward Charles Mitchell who according to the release looking to join a program closer to his native Georgia due to the health of his grandmother. Mitchell averaged 6.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season, starting ten of the 32 games in which he played.

“I loved playing for Coach. He is a great man and great coach. The reason I decided to leave Maryland is to be near my grandmother who has been ill over the past year,” Mitchell said in the release. “Knowing that she raised me and is still a very big part of my life, I decided to move closer to home. It’s important for me to be there for my grandmother and to help support my family. I didn’t want to leave, but I have to put my family first.

“I really enjoyed playing with my teammates and I’ve had a lot of great memories over the last two seasons. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had and wish Maryland nothing but success in the future.”

Mitchell’s departure leaves Maryland with seniors Evan Smotrycz and John Graham, sophomore Damontre Dodd and freshmen Michael Cekovsky (whose addition was also announced Thursday) and Trayvon Reed in the front court, with Mitchell joining Shaquille Cleare (Texas) as big men who have led the program since the end of the season.

The 2014-15 season, Maryland’s first as a member of the Big Ten, will be an important one as Turgeon looks to lead the team to its first NCAA tournament appearance during his tenure.

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.