Sunday, January 9, 2011

season preview: Miami

Miami Hurricanes

Media prediction: 8th

Last season:

Record: 20-13 (4-12), 12th in ACC
Postseason: none
KenPom: 46th of 347

Returning scoring: 69.6%
Returning rebounding: 63.9%
Returning assists: 82.9%

2009-'10 All-ACC:

1st team: none
2nd team: none
3rd team: none
Rookie: G Durand Scott
Defensive: none


PG: Malcolm Grant (Jr.)
SG: Durand Scott (So.)
G: Garrius Adams (So.)
F: DeQuan Jones (Jr.)
C: Reggie Johnson (So.)


F Adrian Thomas (6Sr.)
G Rion Brown (Fr.)
C Julian Gamble (Jr.)
F Donnavan Kirk (Fr.)
F Erik Swoope (Fr.)

Coach: Frank Haith (7th season)


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

Is there a more anonymous team in the ACC than Miami? Certainly there's not one that was harder to figure in the preseason. What do you make of a team that lost their top two scorers but returns basically the entire roster otherwise, has just one senior, finished dead last in the ACC, and proceeded to upset two heavily favored opponents in the ACC Tournament and almost bumped off the eventual national champion, too? Are they dead last or major contenders?

Despite a lack of big-name firepower, the answer is probably closer to the latter. And even the lack of "big-name" firepower suggests a problem with the media, not Miami. The Canes are one of the few teams in the conference blessed with the two things that every ACC coach would give their left nut for: a combo of excellent scoring guards and a big true center who scores and rebounds.

The guards in question are Malcolm Grant and freshman honoree Durand Scott. They've taken to a newfound starting and leadership role like Ralph Friedgen to the Twinkie buffet. Grant is a perimeter shooter and a distributor; Scott is a bit larger and chips in on the boards. Reggie Johnson is the biggest guy in the league, listed at over 300 pounds, and not only does he average 12 points a game and does all those things centers do, he shoots free throws like a guard so you can't hack him to death.

After those three, though, Miami runs out of big-time players awfully fast. Frank Haith has shuffled his lineup all season looking for a good starting five combination. Miami relies heavily on Adrian Thomas, the old man of the team in his sixth season after losing the last two to injury. Garrius Adams is sometimes the first option to spell Grant and Scott off the bench, but Haith also likes three-guard lineups and Adams gets his share of starts, too.

Still, it's a major drop-off in talent from the top three, and most of Haith's bench options are freshmen yet. This is a very young team: one senior, three juniors, and a host of underclassmen. And Johnson is very foul-prone, as much so as this blog's favorite lazy-assed whipping boy, Jeff Allen; thus, a weapon that should be tearing up the ACC doesn't see as many minutes as Miami would probably like.

Essentially, Miami will go as far as their big three will take them. The rest of the roster shouldn't scare teams with ACC-caliber talent. But even though they currently sit at the bottom of the conference at 0-2, that should change. This is a team that will contend for a much better finish than their 8th-place prediction, and should be a bubble team come March.

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