ACC Summer Recess: Miami HurricanesPosted by mpatton on July 25th, 2012
Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Miami.
Where They Stand Now
Miami comes off of another simultaneously successful and disappointing season after finishing 9-7 in ACC play (as modestly predicted last November) last year. The mediocre season led to a two-seed in the NIT, where the Hurricanes got trounced in the second round by Minnesota thanks to a horrendous defensive effort. Still, for Jim Larranaga‘s first season — especially one damaged by the Nevin Shapiro scandal and numerous injuries — a conference record above .500 shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Hurricanes never made the jump from a good team to a great one, but two high-profile wins at Duke and against Florida State showed the potential hidden in the roster.
Malcolm Grant and Dequan Jones hit the road after finishing their final seasons of eligibility, but don’t overrate Grant’s departure. Last year Grant took major steps backward offensively, never finding his shot. For the first three years of his career, Grant was one of the country’s best shooters. He averaged significantly over 40% from deep those years, taking over 200 threes in 2010-11. Three-point shooting made up for his poor finishing skills and lackluster mid-range game, but Grant went cold from downtown in 2011-12 finishing the year at a tepid 33%.
Jones continued his disappointing career arc last season too. After being one of the top recruits to show up in Coral Gables coming out of high school, Jones never averaged as many as six points a game. Certainly his athleticism and versatility on the defensive end will be missed, but Larranaga has good athletes playing the wing (with range outside of four feet) in Rion Brown and Trey McKinney-Jones. Grant and Jones were two of Miami’s three least efficient offensive players last year.
Reggie Johnson will be back after battling a knee injury last season. He struggled a lot with conditioning, but he played like superman at Duke, finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds. His issue was that he struggled to stay on the floor in most other games. Johnson is a force in the post and will be working alongside breakout stretch-four Kenny Kadji. The two together make up the ACC’s best backcourt going into 2012-13. Durand Scott is also back after a sneaky-good season. Scott struggled shooting the three last season, but became a much better finisher. He’ll be joined by mercurial Shane Larkin, whose rollercoaster point guard play appears to be the x-factor for Miami heading into the fall. Brown and McKinney-Jones will likely share the final starting spot.
The only player joining the Hurricanes this summer is Tonye Jekiri, a consensus three-star center from Miami. He’ll need time to develop, but with Johnson’s past conditioning struggles, it’s hard not to see Jekiri getting a little run.
The Hurricanes should be the dark horse to win the ACC. They have talent, experience and coaching. Now it’s time to finally put everything together.