After missing the final seven games of the 2013-14 season due to a stress fracture in his left foot, California center Kameron Rooks entered the offseason with hopes of not only getting healthy but also becoming a more integral figure for the Golden Bears. And with Richard Solomon out of eligibility, the door was open for the rising sophomore to step forward and earn more than the seven minutes he averaged as a freshman.
Unfortunately for Rooks and new head coach Cuonzo Martin there’s a good chance that the 7-footer won’t be able to play this season, with multiple outlets reporting that Rooks suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last week. And considering who the Golden Bears have in their front court, the loss of Rooks is a significant one.
While Cal returns starter David Kravish, who averaged 11.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season, he’s by far the most experienced front court player on the roster. David Behrens averaged 1.0 points and 1.4 rebounds per contest in 24 games last season, and Roger Moute a Bidias played 5.9 minutes per game in 15 contests in 2013-14.
The addition of 7-foot-1 center Kingsley Okoroh, who originally committed to join Martin’s program at Tennessee, will help the Golden Bears. However with the loss of Rooks (and the de-commitment of Idrissa Diallo when Mike Montgomery announced his retirement), Cal will enter the 2014-15 season without much margin for error in the paint when it comes to factors such as foul trouble and injuries.
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)