ACC Preview #4 Miami
Posted by Tommy on November 4, 2008
Coach- Frank Haith (5th season)
PG- Lance Hurdle (SR): The lack of a quality point guard was the bugaboo of last year’s Hurricanes. Haith gave Hurdle and freshman Eddie Rios an opportunity, but the job ended up going to Jack McClinton because neither provided enough offense. I suspect Haith will give Hurdle the nod to start the season at the point so McClinton can go back to his natural two spot. Hurdle won’t provide as much scoring as McClinton or James Dews in the backcourt, but he turns the ball over much less than McClinton and averaged a solid 8 PPG last year. If the ‘Canes need some extra scoring, look for McClinton to run the point and be coupled with Dews in the backcourt, but because Hurdle handles the ball better he’ll probably start. Good play from the point would be a huge bonus for the Hurricanes who have all the other pieces in place to make a run in the dance.
SG- Jack McClinton (SR): The Baltimore native became nationally recognized after his 38-point game against Saint Mary’s in the first round of the NCAA tournament. McClinton is undoubtedly the go-to guy for the ‘Canes and would really benefit from good play at the point from Hurdle and/or Rios because the responsibility would be taken off of his shoulders, allowing him to focus on scoring. He shot a deadly 42.7% from beyond the arc last season and has a lightning-quick release, but does much more than shoot 3-balls. He’s got a quality mid-range game, drives to the rim with success and if defenders over-commit, he’s pretty good at finding the open man. McClinton’s percentage from beyond the arc may take a hit due to the arc being moved back, but the talented guard has enough talent around him where he won’t draw too much attention. McClinton’s name will be on the First Team All-ACC roster and he could even climb into All-America conversation.
SF- Brian Asbury (SR): Asbury is the most versatile player on the Hurricanes’ roster. At 6-7 he has more size than his defenders, but his outside shot must be respected. While he may not have the most explosive offensive game, his combination of size and athleticism makes him a great defender. His offense came along near the end of last season after scoring double digits in seven of the last 12 contests. If he polishes his offensive game and keeps up his rebounding and defending from last season it’ll be hard to keep Asbury off of the floor for too long.
PF- Dwayne Collins (JR): Collins was a pleasant surprise for Frank Haith last season. Collins is a strong, broad-shouldered post player with plenty of toughness and raw athleticism. He loves to bang bodies down low and excels in rebounding. Although he only averaged 8.6 PPG as a sophomore, he shot .550 from the field and had glimpses of greatness such as his 26 point performance against Duke in which he was 12-14 from the field. Now that Collins is an upperclassman, he needs to not only beat up on weaker frontcourts but needs to perform well versus the tougher frontcourts of the ACC like that of North Carolina. Opponents may implement a hack-a-Shaq policy on Dwayne if he does start to become dominant in the paint because he only shoots 50% from the stripe – an area he must improve on.
PF- Jimmy Graham (SR): Graham has been a good bench player for Frank Haith, but the departure of Anthony King leaves a hole in the frontcourt. He has a very similar game to that of Collins. He shoots just about as well from the field as he does from the stripe, is a strong rebounder and a good defender. Both players are listed at 6-8 but Graham has a more lengthy frame than Collins which means he’ll be guarding the opponent’s tallest player. If Graham improves his confidence with the ball he can become a reliable scorer down low for the ‘Canes.
Bench: Dews, who will probably see as much, if not more, playing time than the starters in the backcourt, was last year’s second leading scorer behind McClinton and gives Haith another deep threat if he needs it. Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is yet another strong physical presence in the paint for the ‘Canes. 6-9 redshirt freshman Julian Gamble will be the other key reserve for the frontline. Gamble, McGowan and incoming freshman Reggie Johnson are the three tallest players on the team and will play significant roles especially with Graham’s tendency to get into foul trouble. Eddie Rios got some time at the point last year but his inexperience made it tough to be a quality ACC point guard. This season he’ll get more chances to prove himself, especially during Miami’s weak non-conference schedule. Overall, Haith has a very nice set of reserves this season and can consistently go ten men deep into his roster with little drop-off.
Bottom Line: The ‘Canes have a very strong frontcourt and plenty of scoring ability in their backcourt as well as a deep bench to go to in case of injury or foul trouble. Also, having four seniors and a junior in their lineup is a luxury not many teams have. This experience will certainly give Miami an edge over their more inexperienced opponents in ACC and postseason play. If Asbury, Collins and Graham come along offensively, the ‘Canes are probably better than 4th in the ACC, but right now it looks like McClinton and Dews will be relied upon to provide much of the scoring. They lost very little from a team that made it to the round of 32 last season, so I expect them to make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Key Non-Conference Games: 11/21-11/24 Paradise Jam, 12/6 @ Kentucky
Key Conference Games: 12/21 vs. Clemson, 1/17 @ North Carolina, 2/4 vs. Wake Forest, 2/7 @ Duke
Most Valuable Player: Jack McClinton
Postseason Tournament: NCAA (Sweet 16)