ACC Team Previews: Miami Hurricanes

Posted by mpatton on October 29th, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the ACC microsite will release a preview for each of the 12 teams. Today’s victim: the Miami Hurricanes.

Miami never really clicked last season. The team showed flashes of brilliance like in its overtime win at Duke or their home dismantling of eventual ACC champion Florida State. However, more often than not, Jim Larranaga’s team looked mediocre and inconsistent. Reggie Johnson added trying to recover from a knee injury to his ongoing weight issue, which meant he couldn’t stay on the court for extended stretches nor run the floor very well. To make matters worse, senior sharpshooter Malcolm Grant lost his stroke last season, regressing at an alarming rate to an abysmal 34% from the field. This year looks much better on paper, though history certainly calls for caution when prognosticating Miami’s season.

Shane Larkin

Shane Larkin Is The X-Factor For Miami This Season (credit: Paul Abell / US Presswire)


Consensus three-star center Tonye Jekiri and shooter Steve Sorenson are the only freshmen joining Larranaga in Coral Gables this season. However, redshirt freshman Bishop Daniels may prove to have the most impact, as he’s spent the most time with the team. Daniels redshirted last season after missing the first half of the season with a foot injury. He’s a very athletic combo guard known for his leaping and could provide an offensive spark off the bench backing up Durand Scott or Shane Larkin.

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ACC Summer Recess: Miami Hurricanes

Posted 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

Jim Larranaga Has Plenty of Talent Back in Coral Gables for his Second Year

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.

Who’s Leaving

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%.

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ACC Morning Five: 03.15.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2012

  1. Tallahassee Democrat: This is a pretty cool article about the last time Florida State won a basketball championship. That was 1991 in the Metro Conference (the year before the school joined the ACC), and the Seminoles were led by another clutch guard named Charlie Ward. This Florida State team doesn’t have the NBA talent of those teams from the early 1990s, but it’s coming together at the right time.
  2. South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Miami is down about missing the NCAA Tournament, but the Hurricanes have something to prove in the NIT (where they garnered a #2 seed). Luckily, Durand Scott was reinstated by the NCAA, though his presence was sorely missed in Miami’s loss to Florida State in Atlanta (only to make matters worse, it was a game that probably would have put the Hurricane resume over the top). I hope the players mean it; I want to see Miami with a chip on its shoulder, both in the NIT and regular season next year.
  3. Washington Post: Seth Greenberg is looking to possibly flesh out his roster a little bit this offseason. While he’s apparently OK with adding a junior college transfer, Greenberg made things very clear: “We’re not gonna take a warm body, we’re not gonna take a guy that’s gonna win us a game. I want to take a guy who has a chance to graduate.”
  4. Soaring To Glory: Here’s a solid post on things to expect from Boston College next year. I think the author hits the nail on the head for the most part — especially on the team’s conditioning issues late in the season — though I think more emphasis should be given to guys Lonnie Jackson and Patrick Heckmann (whose fall was precipitated by a bad bout with mono). I think Ryan Anderson will develop, but he’ll need a second and third option more than anything next year.
  5. Wilmington Star News: Brett Friedlander thinks NC State could be poised for a deep tournament run if it can keep focused. I have my doubts (specifically about the team’s depth), but I generally agree. The biggest thing will be avoiding the Selection Sunday hangover game the first weekend against San Diego State. The Wolfpack are capable of winning that game but will need to avoid costly turnovers and foul trouble at all costs. They also can’t get off to a slow start and need stars CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown to embrace the spotlight.
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Morning Five: The National Holiday Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2012

  1. We have tried to go easy on the NCAA Tournament links in our Morning Five this week, but we cannot contain ourselves any more because it is here. It is finally here. We all love every game of college basketball, but now we are literally at the win or go home stage. Obviously some people can argue that a large part of Conference Championship Week is similar particularly for smaller conferences and there was the “First Four”, which we still have a tough time acknowledging being the Internet traditionalists that we are. For those of you who are still struggling to picking through the regions, you should take a look at Pat Forde’s best case/worst case scenarios for the different regions: East, South, Midwest, and West.
  2. If you are looking for something a little more graphical, check out the work that John Ezekowitz and Luke Winn put together doing a “Survival Analysis” that looks at the results from head-to-head matchups this season and attempts to predict a champion. If you are looking for more detail on how this was created, check out John’s explanation, and if you are looking for his straightforward #1-68 ranking that is also available. Just a fair warning the latter two links are a little heavy on the statistical analysis so if you are not into that type of thing you may mind up with a headache trying to figure out what he is saying.
  3. On the surface, the decision by Western Michigan to fire Ernie Zeigler may not appear to be a big one, but it could have significant consequences for a major Division I team. As Ryan Greene points out, Ernie’s son Trey will probably choose to transfer, which could trigger a heated recruiting battle. Coming out of high school, Trey was one of the most coveted recruits in the country, but much like the McCallums he decided on a father-son pairing rather than going to a big-name program. Now with the former no longer directly available Trey has a difficult decision to make. He could stay at the school, which seems unlikely based on the tweets he has sent out (like this one, which could be interpreted several different ways). One of the more interesting possibilities is a father-son package deal. Based on Ernie’s record, 75-111 in six seasons, he probably will not get a good head coaching job right away. One thing he could get is an assistant coaching job. Perhaps one from his former boss (at both Pittsburgh and UCLA) and current UCLA coach Ben Howland, who could use some more talent in the near future. Just something to keep an eye on.
  4. We have our first significant early entry of the season as Maalik Wayns has decided put his name in the NBA Draft. Under the new rules, the Villanova junior, who did not hire an agent, has until April 10 to remove his name from consideration, which is significantly earlier than in previous year. Wayns is a nice player, but we would be shocked if he stayed in the Draft since he is at best a late second round pick and Jay Wright would be able to put him in touch with people who can give Wayns a realistic appraisal. For now, Wayns can get evaluation and feedback from NBA teams and hopefully learn things that will make him a better player as a senior. Of course, if he decides to stay in the NBA Draft…
  5. Based on a ruling yesterday by the NCAA, Durand Scott‘s season is over, but his career at Miami may not be. The junior guard, who was suspended right before the team’s ACC Tournament game against FSU, had his eligibility reinstated by the NCAA, but will have to sit out an additional five gamesm. The six-game suspension would be carried over to next season based on how many games Scott misses from Miami’s NIT appearance this season. In addition to the games he will miss, the NCAA is requiring Scott to pay back the value of the benefits he received to a charity.
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Morning Five: 03.12.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 12th, 2012

  1. The decision by Illinois to fire Bruce Weber  (his press conference reaction here) was probably the most speculated on move this season, but when the school did so it was met with swift reaction. The most notable was Michigan State coach Tom Izzo who said that he and his wife shed tears over the firing although we aren’t clear if they were actual or symbolic tears. The firing was also probably the most significant so far this season as it opens up one of the premier jobs in the country, which could lead to a cascade of movement on the annual coaching carousal.
  2. After putting up with three seasons of relatively futility this was supposed to be a glorious March for Verdell Jones, but those dreams came to a crashing halt as he tore his right ACL during Indiana‘s win over Penn State. The loss of Jones, who finishes his career at #23 on the all-time scoring list at the school, appears to have hit the Hoosiers hard and will make their path through the South Region even more difficult. The Hoosiers have the talent to cover up for Jones over brief periods of time, but the experience he gained from his 103 starts will be hard to recreate late in games.
  3. Over the next three weeks you are going to be seeing plenty of video of Christian Laettner, but the one thing you would see or hear mentioned much is that the Duke great will appear in court this week along with his former teammate Brian Davis in the ongoing case regarding loans they took out on real estate investments. Looking through some of the names involved in this case (including Johnny Dawkins) this could turn into a college basketball media circus as more details come out.
  4. While Weber garnered the majority of the headlines over the weekend, two more coaches were fired over the weekend. At NebraskaDoc Sadler was fired after going 12-18 this season leading Tom Osbourne, the school’s athletic director, to decide to move in a new direction. Meanwhile, Tulsa fired Doug Wojcik, who was the school’s all-time leader in wins, citing a 35% decline in season ticket sales among the reasons. To us, the biggest reason for his firing and the one that probably most directly impacted season ticket sales was the lack of a NCAA Tournament appearance in seven seasons despite a 139-89 record including two 25-win seasons.
  5. We tried to keep the selection of NCAA Tournament teams out of this Morning Five, but Miami and Durand Scott would not let us. Late on Friday, the school announced that the NCAA had declared Durand ineligible for taking impermissible benefits. The time of the suspension, the third for the Hurricanes this season (all for different players), could not have come at a worse time for the team as they were just about to play a game against Florida State, which they lost. Although we cannot definitely say that they would have made the NCAA Tournament had they won that game, they were one of the first four teams left out and a win over a team that would have been a #5 seed at worst probably would have put them over the top. Instead, they are let with nobody to blame, but themselves (and possibly their former head coach).
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ACC Tournament: Scott-less Miami Falls to Florida State and Resume Comparisons

Posted by mpatton on March 10th, 2012

Truthfully, I don’t know why Miami suspended Durand Scott. The Hurricanes already took a big gamble allowing DeQuan Jones to play: why not take another with Scott? Assuming the Yahoo! Sports allegations are true (the NCAA investigation is ongoing), Miami is forfeiting nearly all of its wins from this year. Obviously, I’m not privy to insider details, but if you’re going to let one athlete under investigation play, why not let another–significantly more valuable–student-athlete play?

Durand Scott Was Missed In Miami's Loss to Florida State.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they may be in trouble. I still think they’re in if they split with NC State but they didn’t, and the bracketology consensus appears to have the Hurricanes in the “Last Four Out” group. What’s funny is I think Miami’s profile is as good or better than NC State’s right now. Frankly I think the profile is better than Virginia’s. Depending on how the Selection Committee views Reggie Johnson‘s injury, there are three feathers Miami can put into its cap:

  1. No bad nonconference losses. Seriously, Miami’s worst loss was an overtime loss at Ole Miss. The Black Bears aren’t banging down the door of the NCAA tournament, but they’re just outside of the RPI Top-50. The Hurricanes also lost a tough one to bubble team West Virginia on the road. In conference the loss to Maryland hurts, but that’s one bad loss to Virginia’s three.
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ACC Afternoon Five: ACC Tournament Saturday Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on March 10th, 2012

  1. Miami Herald: The biggest news to break late on Friday was the suspension of Miami‘s leading scorer Durand Scott. Scott has been deemed ineligible by the NCAA due to impermissible benefits and the Hurricanes weren’t informed until around 5:30 PM yesterday.  Without Scott, Miami didn’t have the firepower to beat Florida State and succumbed to their in-state rivals. Scott is the third player to be suspended because of the on-going NCAA investigation at Miami. Reggie Johnson was suspended for a single game before being reinstated and DeQuan Jones missed the first ten games of the season before his reinstatement. While Miami has to hope that Scott will be swiftly reinstated, the timing could literally not be worse: the Hurricanes are right on the edge of the field and Selection Sunday is tomorrow.
  2. Basketball Prospectus: While yesterday’s wisdom held that Miami and North Carolina State each had to win one more game to make it to the Tournament, at least one system already had the Wolfpack and Hurricanes in. While, NC State almost assuredly played themselves into the tournament by toppling Virginia, Miami’s situation is much more interesting. It seems like most folks have Miami pretty squarely out, but the Easy Bubble Solver’s projections offer some cause for optimism in Coral Gables.
  3. ESPN: The big news in Chapel Hill was the awkward fall of North Carolina‘s John Henson. Though x-rays indicated that he didn’t break his left wrist which he was using to brace himself, clear discomfort prevented him from being a factor in the game against Maryland. While there’s no word yet on whether Henson will play today, history is skeptical. Roy Williams hasn’t been shy about his indifference to the ACC Tournament. In 2009, the stacked Tar Heels and eventual national champions lost the conference tournament while Williams held out Ty Lawson who was coming off a toe injury. If Henson really wants to play, the coaching staff will probably allow it, but this game seems to mean little to the folks in Chapel Hill.
  4. News and Observer:  In the inevitable benchmark category, Kendall Marshall‘s 12 assists against Maryland gave the North Carolina guard the single-season ACC record for assists. Now with 311 assist this season, Marshall surpassed Georgia Tech’s Craig “Noodles” Neal. Of course, Marshall still trails Iona‘s Scott Machado for the most assists on the 2012 season. Machado has 117.
  5. Durham Herald-Sun: With Ryan Kelly sitting out this weekend’s tournament with an injury, Duke had to dig a little deeper for some front court help in yesterday’s game. Josh Hairston got the call and responded by playing 17 solid minutes for the Blue Devil’s. His individual statistics aren’t going to blow anyone away, but he seems happy to help his team get the win. Hairston and Duke’s forwards will be tested against the platoons of athletic big men that Florida State sends out . It’s a stern test for Hairston, but one that will only help his team moving forward.
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Set Your TiVo: 02.15.12

Posted by EJacoby on February 15th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s a national affair tonight, as two big games take place about 3,000 miles away, from Miami to San Diego. You’ll get to watch the Tar Heels play on the road against a hungry opponent and two of the top Mountain West teams line up looking to continue the streak of great games taking place in that conference race. Here’s the breakdown:

#7 North Carolina at Miami- 8:00 PM ET on ESPN (****)

Tyler Zeller is Running Full Speed Ahead as ACC Player of the Week Heading into Tonight (AP Photo/G. Broome)

  • If it wasn’t for the final four-minute collapse against Duke last week, this Tar Heels team would be rolling right now and in position to shoot for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament with a strong finish. Instead, they dropped that game at home and need to build momentum back up, as well as their overall profile. Many mock brackets have Carolina on the 3-line this week. A road win here at surging Miami will not be easy, but the Tar Heels should be able to get it done if they stick to their guns offensively. Both teams have big front lines that will match up one-on-one, but UNC has the better playmakers. Tyler Zeller has been awesome lately and should be able to use his agility against the thicker Reggie Johnson inside. If he draws Kenny Kadji, he will look to use his experienced post moves against the jumpy shot-blocker. Carolina has the size advantage on the wings and will need Reggie Bullock to step up offensively to take advantage. Harrison Barnes will be monitored closely by the U’s top wing defender Durand Scott, so watch how aggressive Barnes chooses to be. Defensively, UNC needs to stay out of foul trouble against an aggressive though not very efficient Miami attack.
  • A win tonight would all but lock up Miami’s status as an at-large entry to the NCAA Tournament, as they have a questionable overall profile but are certainly on the rise. To get this win, the Hurricanes need to play strong on the defensive end. They have the athletes in Kenny Kadji (1.8 BPG), Reggie Johnson (1.1 BPG), and Durand Scott (6’5” guard, 1.1 SPG) to make plays on that end. Freshman guard Shane Larkin averages 1.8 steals per night and will look to bother Kendall Marshall on the perimeter all night. On their own end, Miami has a balanced attack but must use better shot selection. They have four players in double-digit scoring but rank just sixth in the conference in offensive efficiency and seventh in field goal percentage. Making shots is their ticket to a serious shot at victory tonight.
  • UNC is a five-point favorite tonight, but Miami has the goods to take this upset if they can make shots on their home floor. A rocking crowd tonight would be a huge boost. I think Carolina presents too many problems on both ends of the floor and will walk away with a win tonight, though it should be tight.
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ACC Game On: 02.02.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on February 2nd, 2012

Wednesday night was a night of valiant efforts, but no surprises. Despite the underdogs’ collective success at keeping games close, Goliath withstood David’s slings and the ACC standings are starting to finally look understandable. Without Glen Rice Jr., Georgia Tech was no match for the still-hot Florida State Seminoles who put the Yellow Jackets in the rear view with a dynamic closing stretch. Boston College, formerly a high-octane scoring attack, tried a more traditional underdog approach with a hideous burn offense that slowed the game with North Carolina State to a crawl. Despite some notable efforts to try to give away the game in the second half, Boston College still faltered in its end-game execution and Mark Gottfried and his crew walked away with the win.

Turgeon Got Run, But Maryland Proved It Has Some Fight

The real excitement of the night was in the Maryland at Miami game. While it looked like it was going to be a by-the-numbers blow out, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon took exception to a referee call late in the second half, kept arguing, and finally got ejected. The Terrapins, rallying behind the guy who stood up for them, suddenly started playing some inspired ball. That combined with the absence of any true post players for Miami (Kenny Kadji was injured while both Reggie Johnson and Raphael Akpejiori fouled out) resulted in a remarkable turnaround that turned a double-digit deficit into a double-overtime thriller. It wasn’t the prettiest game, and before all was said and done, Durand Scott, Sean Mosley, and Nick Faust also fouled out of the game. Scott’s 24 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists would prove to be the deciding line of the night. Though Terrell Stoglin scored an impressive 33 points, he did so only after taking an I-still-can’t-believe-it 20 three-point shots. Though Maryland lost, Stoglin’s will, and the key defensive play of Alex Len means that the Terrapins leave Coral Gables feeling that their team is tough enough to hang in the big games and that their coach believes in them.

The Only Game In Town

  • Duke at Virginia Tech at 7:00 PM on ESPN
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Miami Vice: Hurricane Stars Clamp Up in Conference Play

Posted by mpatton on January 11th, 2012

Matt Patton filed this report from last night’s UNC-Miami game in Chapel Hill.

After last night’s UNC-Miami game, Roy Williams mentioned all of the Hurricanes’ pieces. Most of the compliments went towards the frontcourt of Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson, who both held their own offensively against the Tar Heels. But in the end, Williams pointed to Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott as the engine that makes Jim Larranaga’s team run. Yet Grant and Scott combined to go 6-20 from the field in Miami’s’ 73-56 loss. A 9-0 North Carolina run to close out the first half knocked Miami flat the rest of the way. But this isn’t about one loss. It’s bigger than that. It’s Larranaga failing to adapt to North Carolina’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing the Tar Heels to run with abandon for much of the first half. Sure, a 10-3 foul discrepancy in favor of North Carolina didn’t help matters — nor did the Tar Heels’ suffocating defense — but Miami played itself out of this game.

Reggie Johnson was a moderately Bright Spot in Miami's Loss to North Carolina

Every year I overrate the Hurricanes. Scott and Grant are (on paper) one of the best backcourt duos in the ACC. Scott combines sick athleticism with size to take contact around the rim while Grant knocks down shots and can also create for himself. Juxtapose the talented backcourt with Johnson and the rapidly-developing Kadji, and the Hurricanes have a strong starting five. Shane Larkin also appears to be growing into his role as a spark plug off the bench at point guard. Oh, and Larranaga is an accomplished coach with Final Four experience. But things still haven’t come together. The team still looks like it will finish somewhere in the middle of the pack before making a mini-run in the ACC Tournament.

So what’s wrong?

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