This Week in ‘Canes Men’s Basketball

Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

JT Thompson (aka CaneGrad05) Follow on Twitter

Another 1-1 week for the ‘Canes last week.  After a tough loss at Purdue, where the team battled hard but just couldn’t seem to get over the hump, the ‘Canes recovered with a home win over UMass to stop their slide at 2 games.  The games were noteworthy for 2 reasons:

  1. Freshman Shane Larkin is quickly emerging as a star.  Larkin followed up a nearly game saving performance against Purdue with another strong outing against UMass and earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors.
  2. Coach Larranaga appears to be content to play a small lineup, but has no idea who to trust as his big on the court.  Against Purdue, Swoope started, remaining on the court even in foul trouble, and was backed up primarily by Akpejiori.  Kadji only played 2 minutes.  The script was flipped entirely against UMass, as Akpejiori started, Swoope came off the bench, and Kadji actually ended up playing a majority of the big man minutes, playing 25 minutes in a very strong outing.  Don’t be surprised if Larranaga gives Kadji the start against Memphis, using his 3rd starter at that position in 3 games.

The goal of going 2-3 over the tough 5 game stretch is still out there, but it requires the ‘Canes to win 1 of the games this week to avoid dropping to 5-4 overall.  This might be the most challenging week of the ‘Canes season, so splitting the games will have to be viewed as a success.

Memphis (4-2)
Tuesday, 9PM, ESPN2

Memphis started the year in the Top 10, but stumbled in Maui, going 1-2 with a loss to Michigan and an overtime loss to Georgetown.  Despite those losses, they are still ranked 20th and are a threat to make the Final Four this year.  This is a legit team with athletes all over the court.  Will Barton is a prototypical SG, with size and all court game.  At 6-6, the ‘Canes will struggle to match up with him.  On the interior, the Tigers will rotate 3 athletic bigs and will also bring athleticism of the bench.  Several players in the 6-6 range height-wise with athleticism will provide a difficult matchup for the ‘Canes.  Fortunately, the ‘Canes have improved in handling pressure this year (which is something Memphis features) and inserting Larkin into the starting lineup seems to have calmed things, so hopefully the turnovers will be kept to a minimum.  Outside of Duke and North Carolina, this will be the ‘Canes toughest game all year. The sample size is small, but Memphis ranks 9th in the country in scoring and 12th in field goal percentage.

JT’s Take:   Memphis might be one of the worst “good” teams in all of college basketball.  I’ve watched them several times, and while the raw athletic ability jumps out at you, so does the lack of basketball IQ on the team.  They repeatedly make terrible decisions and force shots, no doubt a product of them all being superstars in high school.  In a way, they remind of the Miami Heat from last year when they were struggling in December.  You could tell the Heat were forcing possessions, letting one possession be for Wade, then from LBJ, and so forth, rather than playing within the team and letting the game come to them.  Eventually, it did for the Heat.  So far, it has not for Memphis, with each possession being forced, especially in a tight game.  I think we have the talent to matchup with Memphis, but unfortunately we just go too long in games failing to score the basketball.  Tonight, we get it done.  I think we force Memphis into enough stupid mistakes, pulling off a much needed victory.   Miami 73   Memphis 70

Vishnu’s Take:  This is an awful matchup for Miami.  Memphis features several players that might be called “tweeners” in the NBA but are actually matchup nightmares in college.  The ‘Canes had trouble keeping Purdue out of the paint, and Memphis is bigger, stronger and more athletic.  The ‘Canes must hope for a strong home crowd (I honestly have no idea what to expect on that front), hot 3-point shooting, and cold 3-point shooting from Memphis to have any chance at this game.  I just don’t see it happening and expect a double-digit home loss.  With that said, there is no shame in losing to one of the best teams in the country, so hopefully the ‘Canes come out loose, play well, and maybe have a chance to steal one.  The field goal percentage must be much better, as Durand Scott was the ‘Canes leading scorer against UMass, scoring 16 points on all FTs.

@West Virginia (5-2)
Saturday, 7PM, ESPN2

Bob Huggins’ team has 2 double-digit losses, at home to Kent and then their past game @Mississippi State.  West Virginia has 6 players do the heavy lifting in terms of minutes played.  While their backcourt is not tall, they do play a more traditional lineup, with 2 power players, which might make it difficult for the ‘Canes to match up with their 4 guard lineup.  This is a veteran West Virginia team, lead by seniors Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant.  The atmosphere in Morgantown, even for a December basketball game, is notoriously rough.  All About The U correspondent John Groves will be in attendance.  The positive thing for the ‘Canes is that West Virginia stinks from 3-point range (something their teams have been traditionally reliant on), shooting only 28.1% and ranking 303rd in NCAA Division 1 basketball.  Contrast that with the ‘Canes, who are shooting 35.9%, good for 115th.  That’s not earth shattering, but still a strength in this game.

JT’s Take:   I’ve only seen WVU once this year, and it was Saturday night against Mississippi State.  I’m not sure if MSU is just pretty damn good (I know they’re talented) or if WVU just came out flat.  This is another game where if the Canes had Reggie, I think we’d be in good shape.  However, we just do not have the size to matchup with WVU at this point in the season, and with this game being in a hostile environment, I don’t think we can keep WVU from getting easy baskets, which you must do on the road.  This will be a frustrating loss.  WVU 77  Miami 65

Vishnu’s Take:  This game has all the makings of an ugly game.  West Virginia plays in Manhattan, KS at Kansas State 2 days before this game, and the ‘Canes will be coming off by far their biggest pre-conference game.  Both teams will probably have some sort of a hangover effect.  In an ugly and sloppy game, expect the team that can hit a few big shots to win.  After a low scoring back and forth, I expect the ‘Canes to knock down some clutch 3s and open a lead.  Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant’s shooting should improve, and with Larkin now running the show, the ‘Canes are creating better looks.  They will make enough to squeak out a much needed, low scoring road win.

Posted in Basketball

All About the U Season Review Podcast, Part 2

Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

Stanton Thomas

aka CaneWarning01

Our season wrap-up podcast is LONG.  2 hours long.  Fortunately, you don’t have to listen to the whole thing.  The first 30 minutes finish wrapping up the Miami football season.  The last 90 minutes are on….soccer.

e-mail comments and questions to:

Follow us on Twitter:  @vrp2003 and @Stanton34135

Download & Listen Here:  AATUPodcast12022011Part2.mp3

Posted in Podcasts

All About the U Season Review Podcast, Part 1

Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

Leon Armstrong, III and I wrap up the season, talking about USF, BC, no bowl game, and Golden’s contract extension.  We then talked about next year, and discussed the BCS, soccer and the NBA (you knew that was going to happen at some point with me involved).  This thing went 90 minutes.  Enjoy!

e-mail comments and questions to:

Follow me on Twitter:  @vrp2003

Download & Listen Here:  AATUPodcast12022011Part1.mp3

Posted in Podcasts

This Week in ‘Canes Men’s Basketball

Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

JT Thompson (aka CaneGrad05) Follow on Twitter

Last week saw the ‘Canes dispatch another non-major program before suffering their first loss of the season, in overtime against Mississippi.  The ‘Canes lack of size was finally exposed, as Mississippi dominated the glass (the numbers don’t reflect this domination accurately).  Still, after falling behind 17-0, the ‘Canes rallied back to take a 5-point lead with less than 5 minutes left.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold that lead and fell in overtime.  While the ‘Canes failed their first road test, they did so just barely and with plenty of season left, there is ample time to recover.

I have maintained all along that the ‘Canes need to go at worst 2-3 in this tough 5 game stretch.  The lost opportunity at Mississippi could sting come tournament time, but the ‘Canes have no time to rest, with a challenging week ahead, with 2 tough games where the ‘Canes must at worst win 1.

@Purdue (6-1)
Tuesday, 9 PM, ESPN2, ESPN3

The ‘Canes meet the Boilermakers as part of the ACC-B1G challenge.  This will be the ‘Canes toughest test yet, as a veteran Purdue team is most likely going to be dancing in March.  Senior forward Robbie Hummel headlines a 3-headed monster of seniors which also includes guard Ryne Smith and guard Lucas Jackson.  The saving grace for the ‘Canes is that the veteran, tournament tested Boilermakers don’t have a lot of size.  Their tallest player is 6-9 and most of their key rotation players are 6-8 and under, which should allow the ‘Canes to get away with playing small ball.  Limiting Hummel, Smith and Jackson will be key if the ‘Canes have any hope of winning.

JT’s Take: On the road against one of the more veteran teams in the country, I expect the Canes to struggle a bit in this game.  I don’t think we have anyone that can truly matchup with Robbie Hummel, and our usual advantage at the guard positions will be nullified by the experience on the other side.  Purdue is also an excellent three point shooting team, which I think will be the difference in this game.  Unfortunately, this is another game where I think with Reggie on the court, the Canes could win.  Without him, we need to make a strong showing, and come out with more urgency than we showed in Oxford on Friday.  Purdue wins 69-60.

Vishnu’s Take:  Tough, tough game.  Fortunately, the ‘Canes were tested on the road, and despite that loss, the deer in headlights aspect should be gone.  With that said, Purdue is a legit, big time program with veteran leadership.  Winning on the road there will be difficult, and Purdue matches up well with the ‘Canes.  For Miami to win, they will need to basically be on fire from 3-point land and force the tempo, to get Purdue in and up and down game.  I don’t think they will be able to force Purdue into that game on their home court, however, and I expect the ‘Canes to lose a close one.

Massachusetts (5-2)
Saturday, 1 PM, ESPNU

This team is hard to get a read on.  They started out the season hot, beating up some cupcakes before annihilating Boston College.  They then traveled to the Bahamas for the “Battle 4 Atlantis” tournament, where they went 1-2, with a blowout win over Utah and blowout losses to Florida State and the College of Charleston.  In summary, they are really up and down, and you have no idea which UMass team will show up on a given day.  One thing is for sure though, UMass will hoist up a lot of 3-pointers.  They are 5th in the nation with 27 3-point attempts per game, but only hit them at a 29% clip.  This could explain their inconsistencies.  If they are hitting their 3s, they are incredibly difficult to beat, if not, their offense breaks down and they are in danger of getting blown out.  UMass’ size shouldn’t be an issue for Miami, but they do feature a true 9-man rotation, so endurance might factor for the depleted ‘Canes.

JT’s Take:  Letdown game.  This game honestly scares the crap out of me, no matter what happens against Purdue.  While UMass is not a great team, or perhaps not even a good team, they are battle-tested and will not just show up in Coral Gables for the check.  They are coming to win, and a Saturday 1pm start for the Canes after playing on the road against Ole Miss and Purdue screams empty arena and let down.  I think the Canes pull this one out, but it’s going to be a tight game.  Miami wins 64-61.

Vishnu’s Take:  This is a must-win at home.  That’s no knock on UMass, who is a legitimately solid team, but losing to a team at home that has already been blown out by 20 points twice with Memphis and West Virginia ahead on the schedule will be unacceptable.  This is a sandwich game, playing highly regarded Purdue before and Memphis after.  But Larranaga is a veteran coach, and I trust him to have the team ready to play.  If the ‘Canes successfully challenge shooters and force UMass out of their 3-point game, they will win.  I think that happens and the ‘Canes get a solid win before shifting focus to Memphis.

Posted in Basketball

Outlook: The RBs

JT Thompson (aka CaneGrad05) Follow on Twitter
2011 Evaluation:  On an individual level, Lamar Miller had one of the finest seasons in Miami Hurricanes history.  What’s remarkable is that he did so as a sophomore in an offense that ran 200 plays less in 2011 than in 2010.  Mike James got off to a slow start this season with some early fumbles.  However, he had a couple of bright games, particularly Virginia Tech.  Eduardo Clements also emerged as a valuable third down back for the Canes.  We didn’t see much of him actually running the ball, but he definitely was depended upon by this Canes coaching staff.  As a unit, the running game struggled, averaging a mere 145 yards per game.  Is this due to the OL or the RB? My guess – both.  For the running backs part, Miller dances A LOT, and while the backups do not dance, they are not as talented.

Who Returns:  The biggest question of the off-season is whether or not Lamar Miller will return.  I do not think it’s likely, but make no mistake, the impact of his return would be immeasurable for the Canes.  If he does not return, the Canes will rely on Mike James and Eduardo Clements.  Maurice Hagens is valuable starting fullback.  Darion Hall is an unknown quantity.   CJ Holton is listed as a running back on the depth chart, but has yet to see action.

On The Way:  A potential superstar exists in this class, as Duke Johnson is one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country.  While he’s a bit undersized, leading some to think he could also play cornerback, with no Lamar Miller, Duke has the chance to play from Day 1 at running back.  As you can see from the chart, Danny Dillard is all over the place in his evaluations.  Miami is still pursuing some kids that could play running back, such as Wes Brown.  However, I would be surprised if another RB lands in this class at this time.

2012 Outlook:  With Lamar Miller returning, this would be a strength of the team.  Without him, the Canes are in trouble UNLESS the OL returns to being a mauling unit on the ground as they were in 2010.   In listening to Al Golden, he clearly wants his team to get physically stronger.  The translation to the running game, I would think, is more “see the hole, hit the hole hard, and fall forward” which is reminscent of what Damien Berry did for the Canes in 2010.  I think James and Clements are perfect examples of this, and what we should expect to see without Lamar Miller.  I also am a fan of the Duke Johnson/Danny Dillard recruiting combo at RB.  Dillard is a “big” running back, which will be a nice compliment to Duke for the future.  Of all positions, you can usually tell very early on if a running back has “it.”  I don’t think James or Clements will be homeruns, but if we can get something out of Duke next year, we could still maintain a dynamic running game.

Posted in Football

Outlook: The QBs

JT Thompson (aka CaneGrad05) Follow on Twitter

2011 Evaluation:  Jacory Harris’ career comes to a close. It was a roller coaster.  In all honesty, due to the increasing popularity of the internet, social media, and platforms such as Twitter, there has probably not been a more talked about player, while at the University of Miami, than Jacory Harris.  As the de facto leader of the Miami Northwestern 2008 recruiting haul, everyone will agree that in terms of on field performance, the career did not meet expectations.  However, save the final game of his career, Jacory Harris had a very good senior season.  In what will be a common theme with these evaluations, you hate to think about what one more year would have done for Jacory Harris, especially considering how unlikely it is to get results out of a true freshman quarterback.  Regardless, we must move forward. It should be noted that Jacory was more highly sought after than either of the quarterbacks currently on the roster.

Who Returns:  Stephen Morris and Ryan Williams.  As you can see from the chart above, these are two players that were not highly sought after.  We’ve seen both play as true freshmen- Morris at Miami and Williams at Memphis.  It’s unfair to judge a player being thrown into quarterbacking at this level as a true freshman, so I won’t spend time breaking down their play.  Morris looked much better in his debut against Maryland compared to last year. Williams has supposedly been playing well, but as the Scout team QB, he’s not running our offense.

On The Way:  Depth, but is there a superstar in this class? ESPN seems to love Preston Dewey, while the rest of the services are somewhat reserved comparatively. He broke his hand, missing most of his senior year.  Gray Crow is criticized for not having gaudy stats, but is relatively well thought of considering his stats.  David Thompson is an elite baseball talent, and if he comes to Miami, you’d expect without really lighting it up, for him to be a depth QB based on his commitment to baseball.  Regardless, by having Stephen Morris and Ryan Williams in the program, we should be able to give these QBs time to learn the system and develop rather than being thrown to the wolves.  Taking three quarterbacks, I expect there will be additional recruits.

2012 Outlook:  You know who really wanted Miami to go to a bowl game? Stephen Morris.  He would have received a substantial amount of practice reps with the offense, while Williams continued to man the scout team.  Now, the gloves come off and the battle begins.  Morris gets a head start having been in the offense this entire season.  He hears the playcalls during the game, having the opportunity to see situations in game time, hear the coaching by Jedd Fisch, and see the game from the player perspective, all of which unfortunately Williams did not get an opportunity to do.   I saw  enough from Fisch this year to expect Miami to succeed with either quarterback, even if it might be frustrating at times.  Ideally, with this job being up for grabs, you’ll see both kids push each other into becoming better quarterbacks, while also giving time for the recruits to redshirt and learn the offense.  It should be kept in mind that we’re relying on two kids barely recruited by big time programs to be good enough quarterbacks for us to return to dominance.  I hate to say it, but it might be a process.

Posted in Football

This Week in ‘Canes Men’s Basketball

Vishnu Parasuraman (aka 2003alumgocanes) Follow on Twitter and Facebook

JT Thompson (aka CaneGrad05) Follow on Twitter

Coming off a successful 2-0 week to improve to 3-0, including a resounding victory over Big East foe Rutgers, Miami enters a transitional week.  After one last home game against Florida Gulf Coast, the ‘Canes will take to the road for a challenging game against Mississippi.  The Mississippi game begins a tough 5 game stretch that will define the ‘Canes out of conference success and determine how much work they need to do when they enter ACC play.

Florida Gulf Coast (2-2)
Tuesday, 7 PM, ESPN3/Regional Sports Network

FGCU is 2-2, but both losses were by 1 point (@TCU, @SMU).  The two wins are against Ave Maria and Prairie View A&M, which are obviously nothing of importance.  The 2 key factors with this team are:

1.  They are young and small.  They rely on their true freshmen guards for most of their production, including rebounding.  Miami should have a size advantage in this game, and will definitely have an experience edge.

2.  They have a new coach, who was an assistant at FSU prior to taking this job.  He’ll be familiar with our players, but not with our systems, since, you know, we’ve never had one since I can remember.

Overall, FGCU likes to shoot the 3, as you’d expect considering their size.  They are rather proficient at it, as well. However, they are very turnover prone, which you would also expect with a young team handling the ball.

JT’s Take:  This is a game that shouldn’t be a problem for the ‘Canes, and I think they win by double digits rather easily.

Vishnu’s Take:  One last warm-up game, it is imperative that the ‘Canes iron out any wrinkles before heading to Mississippi.  I expect a comfortable win, with a loss obviously being a disaster.

Mississippi (4-1)
Friday, 4PM, FSN/ESPN3

Ole Miss is 4-1 in the early season, having just wrapped up an appearance in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, securing a 3rd place victory after an 11 point win over TCU.  They are a physical, well-coached basketball team who will rely on their size against the Canes.  And they have plenty of it.  They are led by Terrence Henry (6’10”) and Murphy Holloway (6’7″ but plays much bigger).  Watching Ole Miss, you get the sense that if they had a point guard to rely on, they could be a very, very good team.  Unfortunately for them, the guard play is underwhelming, relying on a weird combo of a 6’4 true freshman PG with a 5’11 sophomore at SG.  What this usually means is Ole Miss takes bad shots outside, dominates the offensive glass like none other, and limits you to one shot.  If they played more inside/outside, they could be an NCAA team by the end of the year.

JT’s Take:  For the Canes, in order to win, we’ll have to play big even if we are not big.  Our guard play is vastly superior, so if we can take advantage of our perimeter advantage, we can go into Oxford and escape with a win.  I think this game truly is a toss-up, but will be a great test for Kadji and Swoope.  I also like Miami going on the road for a day after Thanksgiving game.  There will be no concerns about what our kids ate the days before the game, seeing family, etc..  while also Ole Miss has just spent a week in the U.S.V.I and will have to re-accustom themselves with their home court.

Early in the season, strong guard play carries the day and Miami gets the win here, 66-63.

Vishnu’s Take:  Ole Miss’ size certainly troubles me, given the ‘Canes well documented lack of depth in the front court.  As JT mentioned, Ole Miss is returning from a pre-season tournament and has to mentally adjust to a “normal” game, while the ‘Canes will be on the road for the first time this year.  I’m not sure who that benefits.  To me, the key will be foul trouble up front.  If the ‘Canes can stay out of it, Kadji and Swoope can hang in there and allow the ‘Canes to at least battle on the boards.  Also, the ‘Canes aggressive defense will allow them to exploit Ole Miss’ lack of experience at the guard position.

If the ‘Canes can shoot well enough from 3 to get to 70 points, I think that will be enough to win this game.  A loss here certainly won’t hurt the ‘Canes overall resume by the end of the year as Mississippi appears to be at worst a borderline tournament team, so this is an opportunity for the ‘Canes, and I think they will seize it for a close road win.

Posted in Basketball