Rushed Reactions: Miami 90, #2 Duke 63

Posted by nvr1983 on January 23rd, 2013


RTC’s East Coast Boss was courtside for Miami’s dominating 90-63 win over #2 Duke on Wednesday night.

Five Key Takeaways.

  1. Before the season all of the talk in the ACC was about North Carolina State, but that quickly evaporated as we saw that their run last March was nothing more than a hot streak. Duke stepped in to fill the void as the dominant team in the ACC and appeared for a while to be the best team in the country, but with Ryan Kelly’s injury which we will get to in a bit, the door to win the ACC is wide open and Miami has stepped in. After tonight the Hurricanes are two games up in the ACC with only three truly challenging games remaining — at home against North Carolina and on the road at North Carolina and Duke. While they can certainly slip up in conference road games, they are successfully positioning themselves to be in contention for the ACC regular season title. I’m still not sure how good this Hurricane team is, but they have wins over a Duke and Michigan State at home and North Carolina on the road. All of those teams have their weaknesses, but Miami is looking like it could be a very dangerous team in March.

    Miami Fans Might Be Rushing The Court A Lot This Year

    Miami Fans Might Be Rushing The Court A Lot This Year

  2. Duke really needs Ryan Kelly to come back. I am not sure I can emphasize that enough. Kelly won’t win any Player of the Year awards and he might not even be First Team All-ACC, but the way this Duke team is constructed they might need his presence more than any other player on the team. Mason Plumlee is by far the best all-around player on the squad, but he lacks Kelly’s versatility, which is key when your bench is as short as Duke’s. Having said all of that, Duke needs to weather this stretch without Kelly which should theoretically be close to ending based on earlier reports from the school. Of course, that says nothing of how Kelly is actually healing. If he returns at 100% Duke should be fine, but their performances thus far following his injury demonstrates just how fragile this team is.
  3. Reggie Johnson could be an asset to Miami down the line, but he isn’t there yet. Before the game there had been rumors that Johnson might play tonight, but it wasn’t until just before tipoff that it was apparent that he would play (he was in the lay-up line without any protection on his broken left thumb). Johnson contributed in spots primarily with his girth filling space against a small Duke front line, but his impact was largely minimal (fill in your ground-shaking jokes). Johnson was only out of the lineup for about a month, but his conditioning looks horrible. He will never run up and down the court with the Cody Zellers of the college basketball world, but Jim Larranaga should have put Johnson on the treadmill for the past month. If Johnson can regain his previous form in the next few weeks, he could insert another dimension to this team although his return could affect the obvious chemistry the Hurricanes developed without him. Read the rest of this entry »
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Set Your DVR: Week of 01.21.13

Posted by bmulvihill on January 21st, 2013


Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

We just had one of the most memorable weekends in recent memory in college hoops. Every game seems to be up for grabs and it’s making for an exciting season. This week should be no different as each conference has its share of important match-ups. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

Cincinnati at #3 Syracuse – 3:30 PM PM EST, Monday on ESPN (***)


Jim Boeheim’s Team Looks Great After This Weekend

  • Cincinnati barely snapped a three-game home losing streak on Saturday with an overtime win against Marquette. The Bearcats were without star guard Cashmere Wright as he continues to heal up from a knee injury. Wright is day-to-day so we don’t know quite yet if he will be available against Syracuse, though. If he is unable to play, his three-point shooting will be missed greatly against the Orange’s match-up zone defense. Although, even if he plays, the size of the Orange backcourt will surely create issues for the 6’0″ guard. In its huge win at Louisville over the weekend, Syracuse proved its size and length on defense makes Jim Boeheim’s team a clear title contender. Both of these teams excel on the offensive glass, so keep a close eye on which team is getting more second-chance opportunities and making the most of them — this could be another place where the Syracuse size makes a difference. More than likely this game will be won on the defensive end.  However, if the Bearcats don’t find a better shooting stroke quickly, this game will not be close regardless of their defensive effort. They shot 41.4% eFG against Marquette, so a shooting number like that won’t cut it against Syracuse.

#12 Michigan State at Wisconsin – 7:00 PM PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)

  • It felt like Iowa was due for a big win at home and it happened to come against Wisconsin on Saturday. After the Badgers’ huge win against Indiana last week, the weekend loss to Iowa brought the team back to reality, but they don’t get much rest with the Spartans coming to town. In order for the Badgers to beat the Spartans, they must play their typically great defense. Bo Ryan‘s squad is 1-4 against teams that shoot over 50% eFG against them so it’s clear that they do not have the offense to go back and forth with teams. Luckily, the Spartans are not a great shooting team with nine games under 50% eFG themselves on the season. This should make for a very close defensive-oriented contest in Madison. Keep an eye on free throws, as they will be a major factor in determining the outcome. Wisconsin must play good defense without fouling; if they are sending Michigan State to the line early in each half, they could very easily drop two games in a row. Look for Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix to be all over Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren, forcing someone else on the Badgers to beat them. This should be another slugfest in the Big Ten.

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Analyzing the Last Unbeaten in ACC League Play: Miami Hurricanes

Posted by EMann on January 19th, 2013

Not too many people would have expected Miami to be the last team in the ACC without a conference loss, sitting at 4-0 in league play at present, but that is indeed what has happened as we sit at just short of one-fourth of the way through league play. Ryan Kelly’s injury at Duke, North Carolina and Florida State’s disappointing play, and NC State acting in two straight games where the court was rushed (being on the winning side of one and the losing of another) have opened up this unlikely scenario. Is Miami’s run sustainable, especially considering that they are playing without big man Reggie Johnson?

Reggie Johnson

Miami has started off ACC play quite well without Johnson-is this more a product of a fairly soft schedule or has the team truly adjusted? (USA Today)

Miami has three losses overall, and absences were to blame for all of them; their stunning loss to Florida Gulf Coast in its second game of the season was without Durand Scott, who was suspended, and Johnson, of course, missed Miami’s losses to Arizona and Indiana State following his thumb injury. In conference play, Miami has defeated Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Boston College on the road, and Maryland at home.

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Miami Has Arrived: Two Conference Road Wins Show Hurricanes Experience

Posted by mpatton on January 11th, 2013

Miami is finally here. The past two years the Hurricanes’ roster was better on paper than it ever performed on the court. This year it looks like they’re finally reaching that potential, despite Reggie Johnson‘s current absence from the lineup with a broken thumb. The Hurricanes will also contend with NC State for the ACC runner-up slot come March. Their success isn’t thanks to a flashy offense, which you might expect from a team with Shane Larkin at the helm — rather, it’s thanks to their physical defense.

Durand Scott's toughness adds a lot to Miami's backcourt. (Photo: Robert Willett / Raleigh News & Observer)

Durand Scott’s toughness adds a lot to Miami’s backcourt. (Photo: Robert Willett / Raleigh News & Observer)

This is the first year the team has been in the top 50 in defensive efficiency since 2009, and it’s making a big difference. Statistically, the secret is two-fold: The Hurricanes shut down the interior (opponents are only 41% from inside the arc this season), and they don’t commit fouls. Visually, their experience plays a big role. Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble are very good shot-blockers and their guards are athletic enough to stay in front of people. Experience combined with Jim Larranaga’s system allow the Hurricanes to play physically and avoid fouling. Offense is still a factor in Miami’s success. Miami runs Larkin or Durand Scott through at least one (often two) high ball screens per possession. Against North Carolina the Hurricanes’ offense looked bad most of the game. They shot too many threes, and there was no flow. After the game, Jim Larranaga made it sound like this was at least in part intentional: “When we play a team that pressures us and is going to be trapping the ball-handler, we share the ball and spread them out. And if you get an open three, you have the green light to shoot it.”

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Miami’s Reggie Johnson Out For 6-8 Weeks: What It Means For the Hurricanes

Posted by KCarpenter on December 31st, 2012

Confirming a story first reported by CBS Sports, the Miami has announced that senior center Reggie Johnson will miss the next six to eight weeks due to a broken left thumb. Johnson had missed the past two games against Arizona and Indiana State, games that the Hurricanes lost. Miami had seemed poised for a breakout year after reeling off seven straight wins subsequent to an early season stumble against Florida Gulf Coast, including a marquee win against Michigan State at home.  The loss of the dominant big man and the playing slump of Kenny Kadji have made the formidable Hurricanes front line seem very vulnerable indeed.

Johnson's Absence Puts Miami in a Precarious Situation

Johnson’s Absence Will Put Miami in a Precarious Situation

How badly will head coach Jim Larranaga miss Johnson? When he’s on the court, the 6’10” Johnson bullies opponents with his 290-pound body. He is a fantastic rebounder and one of the nation’s very best on the glass. With a 26.9% defensive rebounding rate, he leads the conference while also posting a respectable 13.6% on the offensive boards. On the defensive end, he is a capable shot blocker (fifth best in the conference by percentage) and an imposing presence beneath the rim. Despite all of this, however, Johnson will be missed the most on offense. When he is on the court, the center uses 28.7% of all of Miami’s possessions, a usage rate that is only surpassed by the one-man team of Erick Green at Virginia Tech. While Johnson has sometimes struggled with his shooting from the field this season, the area where he truly excels is getting to the free throw line. Outside of Mason Plumlee, no one in the conference gets to the stripe more than Johnson, who converts a very respectable 71.4% of his free throw attempts.  Miami has numerous effective scorers, but the loss of Johnson really hurts.

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Set Your DVR: Week of 11.27.12

Posted by bmulvihill on November 27th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday/Wednesday nights will give us some of the best non-conference match-ups we’ll see this season. It should be a great battle between two of the top conferences in the nation. We sneak in Kentucky vs. Notre Dame also later this week. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

The ACC-Big Ten Challenge gives us some of the best games of the season so far.

#23 Minnesota at #25 Florida State – 7:15 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN2 (****)

  • Minnesota comes into this game battle tested from a tough, early non-conference schedule. With the exception of the Gophers’ loss to Duke, Tubby Smith’s squad is winning with defense. Typically, we would say the same thing about Florida State’s defense, but it’s their offense that is winning their games this season. The Seminoles are shooting 56% from two and 41% from three. While Minnesota has only allowed opponents to hit 29.6% of their three-point attempts this season, they have been susceptible to the long ball in their last three outings. Additionally, they have been poor on the defensive glass, allowing teams to grab 37% of their misses. FSU has four players that shoot over 40% from beyond the arc and they are actually taller than the Gophers, particularly in the backcourt. Pay close attention to FSU’s three-point shooting and offensive rebounding in this one. Because Minnesota is not a great shooting team, they are going to have to figure out a way to deal with the Seminoles’ size on the offensive glass. Thus far, the Gophers are grabbing 47.3% of their missed shots on the offensive end, which is good for fourth in the nation. The winner of this game will be the team that owns the offensive glass.

#21 North Carolina State at #5 Michigan  7:30 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (*****)

  • Both of these teams are in the top 20 in effective field goal percentage thus far in the season. Three-point shooting will be a key factor in this match-up with both teams hovering right around the 40% mark. The Wolfpack is led by Rodney Purvis and Scott Wood on the outside, shooting 58.8% and 44.8% respectively. Those are the only two players on NC State who have attempted more than 10 three-point shots on the season. The Wolverines, however, have four players – Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, and Glenn Robinson III – who have attempted 10+ threes and all are shooting at over 30%. Both teams are middle of the pack at defending the outside shot, so it will be interesting to see who is able to take this advantage. While offensive firepower seems to be the key in this game, defense will ultimately determine the winner. Michigan has held all of its opponents under a point per possession this season and has proven it can win ugly against Pittsburgh. NC State is the best offense UM has faced thus far, though, but the question remains if the Wolfpack can hold off the plethora of Wolverines who can score. NC State is coming off a shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma State and a very close win against UNC-Asheville, where they allowed an eFG of 56.3%. If they don’t improve that field goal defense against Michigan, they will get crushed again.
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ACC M5: 11.22.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 22nd, 2012

  1. Sporting News: Reading this convinced me that Brian Gregory may be exactly what Georgia Tech needs. He’s a very good salesman, which is crucial both for future recruiting and getting alumni and fans involved. The two go hand in hand as good recruiting leads to better teams which leads to more alumni support; likewise good alumni support leads to better facilities and more hype around the program and better recruiting. Give Gregory a couple more years and he’ll have Georgia Tech back in the conversation.
  2. Washington Times: As more and more opinion pieces start to turn up regarding Maryland‘s move to the Big Ten, there are a couple of distinct themes: that the Terrapins made the no-brainer choice given the realignment climate, the athletic department spit in the face of tradition, or it was a necessary evil because of the department’s financial woes. This piece clearly falls on the side of the latter. More interesting are the demographics of groups on both sides: In general, current students and the athletic department seem to come down in the first camp, older alumni and fans of other ACC schools in the second camp, and a mixture of the two falling in the third camp. None of the other realignment moves have seemed nearly as polarizing amongst the fan base.
  3. Indy Week: NC State has received a lot of hype this season — even after the ugly loss to Oklahoma State — but a lot of people don’t remember how the program faded to obscurity in the first place (at least as far as national titles are concerned). Through the 1970s and 1980s the Wolfpack were a top program in the ACC and the country, but the school forced Jim Valvano out in 1990 and the program never really recovered to that level under any of Les Robinson, Herb Sendek or Sidney Lowe.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: It should only be good news that Reggie Johnson is more motivated than ever, has lost weight, and is disciplined. But why are Miami and Johnson struggling to start the season? Johnson and frontcourt partner Kenny Kadji are off to very poor offensive starts. Kadji is turning the ball over far too much, and Johnson just can’t shoot with any accuracy. But in the long run both are proven commodities, and the Hurricanes should be much better than they’ve played so far.
  5. Baltimore Sun: Kevin Coherd’s column about the Terrapins is cautiously optimistic, echoing Mark Turgeon‘s sentiments about his young team. It’s true this team is not a national contender just yet, but it could really rock the boat in the ACC if it can find some consistent offense. Alex Len already deserves any ACC Most Improved Awards we can find for him. Coaches like to spin things down a little at the beginning of the season to keep their teams as clean as possible, but Turgeon has a lot to look forward to this season.


Could the Big Ten be poaching another ACC (Carolina) blue blood as its 15th or 16th member?

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Should I Be Worried That My ACC Team Lost?

Posted by KCarpenter on November 16th, 2012

After about a week of college basketball, it’s time to start panicking. You are an ACC fan and your team lost one of these first few games. In this, the cupcakiest time of the year, is often an ominous sign. So, of the teams that have already lost a game, who should be worried?

The Vaunted FSU Defense Didn’t Perform to Standards Last Week

Florida State lost to South Alabama last Friday, a shocking loss for the defending ACC Tournament champions. Should the Seminoles be worried about losing to what appears to be a middle-of-the-pack Sun Belt Team? Not really. Florida State suffered from the classic college basketball upset: the threes fell for USA while there was an extended drought for FSU. While South Alabama shot a scorching 60% from deep, the Seminoles managed only 23.8%. This performance, on both ends, feels like a fluke. In USA’s next game against the hapless William Carey Crusaders, the team made threes at a reasonable 33.3% clip, while Florida State shot 55.6% from the perimeter against Buffalo. Sometimes a team gets hot when their opponent goes cold, so outside of demonstrating that even Michael Snaer can have good days and bad days, there appears to be no fundamental problem with the Seminoles.

Miami lost to Florida Gulf Coast University on Tuesday, a surprising but not-so-shocking loss for a Miami team that stumbled and lost to Division II St. Leo’s in the exhibition season. Florida Gulf Coast University has a decent team and the game was the home opener for the Eagles. This was never a gimme for the Hurricanes, though it was a game that they were expected to win. Still, Miami lost handily to the Eagles and the culprit was easily located: interior scoring. Miami shot a respectable though not spectacular 30.8% from three, yet managed to shoot only 27.5% from two. This is a troubling sign, considering that Miami boasts a big and impressive frontcourt in Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson. These two working in tandem should be able to score inside with near impunity. Yet Johnson in particular struggled, shooting only 2-of-8 and tallying five turnovers.  In the season opener, a home game against Stetson, Johnson went 6-of-16 from the field also, a staggeringly low total. Sure, Johnson ended up scoring a lot at the free throw line of that game, but when your center is shooting such a low percentage it is cause for concern.  Perhaps things will run a little smoother when Durand Scott, the team’s senior point guard, returns to the lineup, but Johnson’s surprising inefficiency is worth keeping an eye on. Miami isn’t in trouble yet, but considering the difference that Johnson can make for this team, it’s worth watching how the big man performs going forward.

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Miami Loses to Division II St. Leo: What Went Wrong?

Posted by KCarpenter on November 3rd, 2012

Exhibition season usually offers little insight into how a team will fare once play begins in earnest; comparing blowouts against sub-par competition usually isn’t too productive. The highly-touted Miami Hurricanes, however, gave us something to talk about. Last night Miami lost to the Division II St. Leo Lions 69-67. Expectations have been high for the Hurricanes who return a veteran cast of capable upperclassmen. In the Lions, Miami faced a tough reality check. St. Leo jumped to an early lead with the score in favor of the underdogs 37-30 at the half. While the Hurricanes made it interesting in the closing minutes, the Lions, led by Trent Thomas‘s 23 points, walked away with the victory. This leads to the simple question: what went wrong?

Miami played ineffective defense and had an even more ineffective offense. St. Leo managed to shoot 45.3% from the field, which, while not absurd, is still a strong performance against a team that should have been capable of suffocating the Lions. Meanwhile,  the Hurricane stars fell flat with the exception of Trey McKinney-Jones who shined with 19 points on 13 shots. The typically devastating inside-outside frontcourt paring of Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson played disastrously. Both players committed four turnovers each, Kadji shot 1-for-6 from the field and Johnson managed only a single rebound in 13 minutes of pure, distilled Jim Larranaga frustration. The coach had been (and remains) critical about his team’s level of energy in the past couple weeks of practice.

Miami will learn and grow from this experience, but right now this game is a warning sign that things aren’t all squared away in Coral Gables. Perhaps this team will mature and eventually come to meet expectations, but this game offers some early reason for skepticism about the Hurricanes’ coming season.

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ACC M5: 10.31.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on October 31st, 2012

  1. The Dagger: Someone get Luke Loucks a job as a broadcaster. ACC Network, I’m looking at you. Jeff Eisenberg recently sat down with Loucks, who played point guard last season for ACC champion Florida State, and he absolutely kills it with his ACC preview — if this was off the cuff that’s even more impressive. He predicted a big leap out of James Michael McAdoo, though stuck with his own Florida State to win the conference. Loucks also said he would play for Coach K if he could play under any coach (other than Leonard Hamilton of course).
  2. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It’s safe to say Mark Bradley is not impressed by the current state of Georgia Tech‘s athletic program. Bradley points out that the biggest problem facing Georgia Tech right now is generating excitement around the program, so athletic director Dan Radakovich’s successor should really focus on selling the program instead of just being a “money man.” While Bradley criticizes the Yellow Jacket program as a whole, he clearly places significant blame on Radakovich for his role in the growing irrelevance of its athletics. Who Georgia Tech picks to replace Radakovich will be very important going forward if Brian Gregory wants to get his basketball program back on track.
  3. BC Interruption: Boston College named sophomore Dennis Clifford the captain of the basketball team. The Eagles don’t have very much of an upperclassman presence (with only Danny Rubin and senior-transfer Andrew Van Nest), so it makes sense the team elected a sophomore. The Eagles’ choice should plant a seed in people’s minds that the 7’0″ center may take a big step forward his second season. Unrelatedly, Boston College still had practice despite Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy blowing through Chestnut Hill.
  4. State of the UState of the U caught up with Kenny Kadji, one of the the surprising Hurricane performers from last season. Kadji has apparently lost 20 pounds, which he hopes will help him become more of an athlete. This is especially important considering his frontcourt-mate Reggie Johnson may be many things (including a great back-to-the-basket guy), but he cannot run the floor well. Kadji pointed to Johnson and Julian Gamble as the two most impressive Hurricanes so far in practice.
  5. Duke is going modern with its stat-keeping, as now all their player stats will be kept and updated in real time on their respective iPads. The automation allows managers and assistant coaches to keep track of Duke’s player efficiency rating (PER) and update it live so that players get instant feedback after practice and the coaching and support staff can focus on the other parts of their jobs. Sports is one place people generally don’t think much about technology (well, apart from the production of events), but technology is making things like Duke’s PER easier to monitor, and arguably, gives the players better information on how to improve.
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