Miami Basketball Preview: #26
Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #5 ACC
2007-08: 23-11, 8-8, 5th
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Miami reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years on the shoulders of Jack McClinton and James Dews. The talented wing combo together averaged 28.0 points per game. McClinton is the better shooter of the two, but Dews can knock down the long ball as well. If both, or even one, can become more aggressive getting to the basket, they will be very difficult to stop. Both shot over 90 percent from the charity stripe last year so the more they can get there the better.
Anthony King averaged 7.1 points and a team high 7.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during his final season with the Hurricanes. The center was often underappreciated, but his steadiness under the basket will be missed now that it is gone. The only other loss is Raymond Hicks. The forward played an important role off the bench, but rarely put up big numbers.
Coach Frank Haith needed to get some frontcourt depth out of this class. He got it with Cyrus McGowan, Julian Gamble and Reggie Johnson. And McGowan and Gamble are not even true freshman so their experience will help out immensely. McGowan never saw big minutes during his time at Arkansas, but the 6-9 forward is a decent post defender who can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability. Gamble redshirted last year and has the body to battle in the paint in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Speaking of big bodies, Johnson is listed at 6-9 and 316 pounds. That last number will need to come down a bit, but Johnson has the skills to develop into a solid post player before his collegiate career is over. However, the best of all the newcomers is DeQuan Jones. The highly touted small forward will not likely unseat Dews or McClinton from a starting job, but his versatility and offensive firepower will make an impact on this team this season one way or another.
Who to Watch:
McClinton and Dews will score, but Miami needs the rest of the returning players to step up and perform up to their abilities. The most important of the bunch could be point guard Lance Hurdle. The point guard position was a question mark heading into the 2007-2008 campaign, but Hurdle answered the call. His quickness proved to be his greatest strength, but Hurdle even averaged 8.0 points per game. Eddie Rios is not a bad option to back up Hurdle either. Brian Asbury, who started 16 games a year ago, will probably fill the shooter off the bench role this time around. The 6-7 forward is also a strong rebounder for a player who spends a lot of time on the perimeter. Even without King, the Hurricanes have a couple physical players in the paint. Dwayne Collins averaged 8.0 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and is a beast on the offensive glass. Jimmy Graham is expected to step into King’s old spot. Graham will do all the dirty work around the basket and do his fair share of scoring. If he can stay healthy, which has not been the case over the last two seasons, Adrian Thomas will be a major contributor off the bench. Even if he is not physically able to do so, Miami feels the newcomers will provide more than enough depth in the paint.
The 23 wins for Miami is a little misleading. The non-conference schedule was pretty easy. The team won their first 12 games with the toughest contests, by far, coming against VCU and Mississippi State. Once in ACC play, the Hurricanes were just 8-8 and had many, many close calls that could have easily resulted in a 7-9 record. That would have probably been enough to keep Miami’s NCAA drought going for at least one more year. This team is a little older and wiser, but are they one of the top teams in the ACC or just another team that does just enough to get by?
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Lance Hurdle, Senior, Guard, 8.0 points per game
Jack McClinton, Senior, Guard, 17.7 points per game
James Dews, Junior, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Dwayne Collins, Junior, Forward, 8.6 points per game
Jimmy Graham, Senior, Forward, 6.0 points per game