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With Melo Trimble inconsistent at point guard, Richaud Pack helps keep Terps steady

COLLEGE PARK — Coach Mark Turgeon has said several times in recent months that he didn't expect senior transfer Richaud Pack to play as important a role for the Maryland men's basketball team as he has so far this season.

Even Pack said before preseason practice began that he thought he'd be used mostly as a "spark plug" off the bench, playing behind freshman Melo Trimble at point guard and behind senior Dez Wells at shooting guard. Then an injury to forward Evan Smotrycz forced Pack into the starting lineup.

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Because of his importance to Turgeon as a security blanket when Trimble gets sloppy with the ball, three games into the season, Pack already might be the Terps' third-most important player, behind Wells and forward Jake Layman.

"He's our glue guy," Layman said Thursday after Pack had nine points, a team-high eight rebounds, four assists and just one turnover in an otherwise sloppy 66-50 Maryland victory over Fordham at Xfinity Center.

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On a night when Trimbled struggled with turnovers (four in the first half and five overall), Layman got into foul trouble (sitting out most of the last 10 minutes of the first half) and Wells often reverted back to his old careless ways (four turnovers), Pack was steady.

"Richaud is really, really solid," Turgeon said of the 6-foot-3 guard, who spent his first three years at Florida International and North Carolina A&T. "He just does everything right. He guards the best player, he plays multiple positions and he's really unselfish."

Pack, who is averaging just over eight points, three assists, a team-high six rebounds and less than a turnover per game while shooting 10-for-18 from the field this season, hadn't played much point guard until coming to Maryland.

Turgeon said that when Pack signed, he didn't expect to use him there. Now Pack's steadiness and Trimble's shakiness could pose a dilemma for Turgeon when Smotrycz returns from his broken foot in a couple of weeks.

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If Trimble hasn't settled down by the time Smotrycz is back in the starting lineup, Turgeon could start Pack at the point and have his much-hyped freshman come off the bench, or at least share some more of their responsibilities.

Fordham coach Tom Percora thinks it's just a matter of time before Trimble starts to feel comfortable, saying the Terps are a potential top-25 team in part because of him.

"I just think the young guys who are here [at Maryland], especially Trimble, he's good," Pecora said. "He's really good. And when you start with a point guard that has that kind of skill set, I think the sky is the limit."

Some of Trimble's teammates, and his coach, tend to agree.

"I think, overall, he's doing a good job of running our offense. I think sometimes, not a lot, he tends to drive and throw up a crazy shot," Layman said. "For this early in the season, that's nothing to worry about. He'll watch film; he'll learn from that."

Said Pack: "I think he'll get there. He's still a young guy. I don't think he'll lose any confidence. You always say that about Melo. He doesn't get too high or too low, no matter how he plays. I think he'll be fine."

Trimble is still learning how to play point guard, having played it only in the traditional sense for a short time toward the end of his senior year at Bishop O'Connell High in Arlington, Va. That he has more turnovers (eight) than assists (six) this season is only part of the scrutiny that accompanies being Maryland's first McDonald's All-American since Mike Jones in 2003.

"I think we're going to be overly critical of him, unfortunately, but he's a heck of a player," Turgeon said Thursday. "I thought he had a really, really solid second half."

So did Pack, Maryland's security blanket at the point and maybe its most impressive player so far this season.

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