Tuesday, November 25, 2008

season preview: Miami

So much for having these done by Thanksgiving. That's two days away and there's still four more to go. Maybe two weeks? Ish?

And speaking of Thanksgiving: we interrupt for a programming message. Expect only two posts between now and Monday evening: the Cletus game preview at some unknown time on Friday, and Blogpoll ballot Sunday night. I may squeeze in a Syracuse game preview on Friday as well, but that's not pre-written like the football one is, so "maybe" is the operative word. Just in case I don't, here's the short version: they'll slaughter us. Now: Miami Hurricanes basketball.

(Oh by the way: Sylven Landesberg is 2-for-2 with rookie of the week honors. His UVA career is off to a roaring start. Now, Miami for real.)

Media prediction: 4th

ACC schedule:

Twice: Boston College, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State
Once: Clemson (H), Duke (A), Georgia Tech (A), Virginia (A), Virginia Tech (H), Wake Forest (H)

2007 All-ACC:

First team: G Jack McClinton
Second team: None
Third team: None
Freshman: None
Defensive: None
HM: None

(italics: returning)

Projected starters:

PG: Eddie Rios (So.)
SG: Jack McClinton (Sr.)
G: James Dews (Jr.)
F: Cyrus McGowan (Jr.)
F: Dwayne Collins (Jr.)


F Jimmy Graham (Sr.)
G Lance Hurdle (Sr.)
F DeQuan Jones (Fr.)
F Brian Asbury (Sr.)

Coach: Frank Haith (5th year)

There is a little bit of a now-or-never aspect to this Miami team. With four seniors in the rotation, particularly all-ACC standout SG Jack McClinton, it's one of the most experienced rosters in the conference.

McClinton has this nasty good aim from downtown, hitting on nearly 43%, and he's a stone-cold lock at the free throw line - he missed just ten all of last season. He's not alone either. Miami is a ridiculously good free-throw shooting team, with four players that hit better than 80% from the line. That's part of the reason why this is such a now-or-never year for the Canes - three of those players are seniors, the lone exception being James Dews. Dews and McClinton are joined in the starting backcourt by sophomore Eddie Rios - Coach Frank Haith likes a three-guard starting lineup, and Rios has gotten the nod so far this year over senior Lance Hurdle.

Hurdle started twenty games last year, and fellow senior Brian Asbury started sixteen. Miami has the tremendous luxury this season of being able to bring both these players off the bench. There's very little, if any, drop-off there from the starting lineup, and Asbury in particular is a weapon. He adds a little bit of everything to the stat sheet - points, rebounds, steals - and does it all very well, and you can't foul him because he's one of those 80% free throw shooters - .845, to be precise.

The only hole in the lineup is leading rebounder Anthony King, who graduated. He had plenty of help from Dwayne Collins in the frontcourt last year, though, and the 'Canes add Cyrus McGowan as a transfer from Arkansas. Collins, McGowan, and senior Jimmy Graham - a big body off the bench at 250+ pounds - will ensure there's no hangover from the loss of King.

Miami's experience is frankly, scary. Not many teams can bring a bench like they have. The starters, especially McClinton, are plenty good in their own right, but Miami is going to win games this season when the starters rotate out and they can match their bench against yours. They'll win that matchup most days. Last year, Miami went to the NCAA's as a 7 seed and nearly missed out on upsetting #2 seeded Texas in the second round. Expect a higher seed this year - a 7th seed would be a disappointment and a waste of all that senior leadership.

No comments: