The Hurricanes mission in this out of conference season is simple: don’t get crushed by a tough schedule and maximize the overall record. So, while it wasn’t pretty, the 11-point win last Friday in the opener was just what the ‘Canes needed. And, as the season progresses, the ‘Canes should get stronger and healthier as players come back into the fold. One such player is Freshman Shane Larkin, who was cleared by the NCAA today and will likely take the court immediately. Another body in the back court should help as the ‘Canes are forced to play 3-4 guards at a time to compensate for the front court injuries. There are 2 games this week for the ‘Canes:
Tuesday, 7PM, ESPN3
Rutgers comes into this game with a less than convincing win over Dartmouth. But all ‘Canes fans should remember the manner in which Rutgers dominated Miami last year in New Jersey. The ‘Canes are at home looking to get some revenge.
They will face a very young Rutgers team, which played 6 freshmen in the opener. This youth resulted in 16 turnovers for Rutgers, and the ‘Canes will hope to follow suit and get out in transition. Fortunately for the ‘Canes, Rutgers features a very small team, so Miami’s size issue should not play a large role in this game. Rutgers’ front court consists of 2 6′ 8″ players, and their main bench contributors are also guards, with their tallest bench player listed at 6′ 9″, but only playing 4 minutes against Dartmouth. The only double figure scorer for Rutgers in the opener was G-F Dane Miller, who had 12 points.
This game is really important for the ‘Canes. Obviously, it is easy to recover from early season losses, but with the ‘Canes dealing with injuries, a home out of conference game against a team that doesn’t have much size and is really young is a game that the ‘Canes need to win.
Saturday, 7PM, No TV
North Florida is the 3rd game in a 4 game home stand to open the season. UNF got whipped by the team that ended Miami’s season last year, Alabama, but followed that up with a win over Savannah. They play at Florida on Thursday before coming to Miami on Saturday. So, UNF should be battle tested coming in.
UNF features a legitimate 10-man rotation, splitting minutes pretty evenly. They are tiny, though, with their tallest player being 6′ 7″. This should present another opportunity for Miami to win a game without their lack of size being tested, and a loss here will obviously be a disaster. After Miami, UNF travels to Ohio State, so this Miami game is part of a challenging schedule and also is nowhere near the highest profile game UNF plays. I would expect a comfortable win here.