With all the hullabaloo made about the release of Charles Mitchell from the Maryland Terrapins program, not much has been made about the additions to the roster. In particular, the addition of Richaud Pack, the North Carolina A&T senior who opted for the Terrapins to finish his final year of school.
Pack, a fifth year senior and transfer himself, adds a lot of experience to the backcourt and a whole lot of scoring potential. Pack averaged 17 points and 4.6 rebounds per game for the Aggies last season, good for second on his team in scoring. Of course, the Aggies compete in the MEAC, which is a far cry from both the ACC and the Big Ten in terms of competition. Worse still, his team finished with the fourth-worst record in the MEAC, and that’s worth mentioning if only to dial back expectations a bit, as no teams made the tournament from his conference.
Still, Pack should help the Terps a lot in a few key areas:
He is a trusty backup to Dez Wells
One of the most painful parts to watch last season was when Dez Wells, exhausted from being on the court the vast majority of the first half, would motion to the sideline that he needed a brief respite. Turgeon’s response? “Dez, you can’t come out.” The consequence of sitting Wells meant losing the game by a lot more, but leaving him on meant diminished results. There was no happy ground because playing Nick Faust was simply not an option most of the time with how poorly he played.
Pack will help the Terps keep Wells fresh more often throughout the game, so he won’t have to conserve energy the entire first half before going off in the second. Pack is a fifth-year senior, and he’s played against top-tier competition before; extended minutes won’t be a problem for him. While he’ll obviously be a drop-off from Dez Wells, he won’t be a noticeable problem like trotting Varun Ram out there or letting a true freshman pick up lumps (Dion Wiley) the hard way.
A backup to Dez Wells will go a very long way to helping this team maintain high efficiency.
Speaking of which, Pack is an effective player
Dez’ backup last season was Nick Faust, who just so happened to be one of the least efficient shooters and scorers in Maryland history (not a joke). On the other hand, Pack is coming off a season where it was pretty evident he was going up against competition that wasn’t necessarily challenging for him. Pack held a true shooting percentage of .659 in conference play last year, which is astronomically high for a guard. He also had a PER of 23.8 in conference, which again, seems to suggest he should have been playing against better players all along.
But Pack also doesn’t turn the ball over like Faust, in any way. Faust’s career turnover percentage was 18.9, whereas Pack’s is 11.8. He doesn’t make careless errors with the ball, and at his age, you won’t really expect Pack to make the same errors that were inherent with Faust. Pack isn’t going to look for homerun plays, but rather steady offense. With a lot of young guys on the court, someone showing them how to make the right play and not the big play is huge for their development. And huge for this team to take a step in the right direction.
He’s a positive influence!
This is perhaps the biggest point of them all. Pack has no hidden agenda, no axe to grind or bridge to burn. He chose Maryland for his final season; there’s no concern about him being anything but a positive influence on the locker room. Pack is going to give the Terps everything he has because it’s all he has left on the basketball court. His first two priorities were, literally, “academics, then winning,” according to interviews.
Maryland now has a guy who is a student-athlete in a very true sense, and two seniors in Wells and Smotrycz who appear to be doing the same thing. What was one of the youngest rosters in college basketball last year has some pretty mature and strong pillars this season. Pack adds on to that in a big way, and Maryland needs that.
Dion Wiley, Melo Trimble, and this 2014 class are going to learn from consummate veterans how to thrive at the next level, and the commitment it requires. They’re also going to learn what it means to be committed and work for your team, not yourself. We always talk about fostering an environment that is conducive to growth, and it starts with adding a guy like Pack in the offseason to bolster the message of “Maryland above everything.” This addition does that, and should be great for the future even if it is just a one year rental.