2007-08 Miami Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #78
Conference Rank: #8 ACC
2006-07: 12-20, 4-12, 12th
2006-07 postseason: none
It has been a pretty busy off-season at Miami. A couple players have transferred, but the biggest news is the return of Anthony King, who was granted a medical redshirt year after missing all but eight games last season. It is not like the Hurricanes were doing good with King on the floor at the beginning of last year, but his return adds some more experience to an otherwise relatively young roster. King averaged 7.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks during those eight contests before he went down with an injury.
The transfer of Denis Clemente and the graduation of Anthony Harris leaves some big questions in the backcourt. Clemente, who is headed to Kansas State, averaged 9.8 points and 3.2 assists and the starting job would have unquestionably been his had he opted to stay with Miami. Harris was better at getting to the basket than Clemente and a little more turnover prone, but his leadership will be missed. Wing Lawrence Gilbert earned a couple of starts last season, but is headed out of the program and forward Keaton Copeland has run out of eligibility after starting 15 games in 2006-2007.
The obvious need is at point guard, but with the unexpected departure of Clemente, Coach Frank Haith did not know that when he was doing his recruiting. However, there are a couple serviceable options to run the show among the newcomers. Edwin Rios is one of the top ranked point guards in the class, but he is still transitioning from the shooting guard position. He is a great shooter and finisher, but he may not be ready to run a team in the ACC. Lance Hurdle, a junior college transfer who played at UC Santa Barbara, is an undersized athletic wing more than a point guard, but his experience will give him an opportunity early in the year to prove he belongs at Miami. Julian Gamble, a 6-9 power forward, will find it difficult to earn too many minutes this year. However, the lanky lefty is a good scorer and could develop into a solid player in a year or two.
Who to Watch:
Jack McClinton led the team with 16.7 points per game last year and shot 44 percent from behind the arc. He is a terrific scorer and the heart and soul of the Hurricane squad. But that is not why he will be so interesting to watch this year. Without Clemente on the floor, McClinton will likely take over the point guard duties, or at least early in the year until Rios or Hurdle are ready to take over. Even if Rios is able to start right away, McClinton will see some minutes as his backup. McClinton, who averaged 2.1 assists and 2.4 turnovers last year, is obviously not a true point guard. Even if Coach Haith can live with the turnovers, how much working on the ball instead of off it will hurt McClinton’s offense is the real question. In that scenario, James Dews will move into the shooting guard spot. The 6-3 sophomore struggled with his consistency as a freshman, but he will be a dangerous shooter if and when he finds his stroke. Besides taking a few too many shots from behind the arc, Brian Asbury is everything one would want from a wing. He is a solid scorer and can hit the long ball occasionally and he will help out the frontcourt in the rebounding department. At 6-7, his long arms cause problems on the defensive end and he led the team with 1.4 steals per game last year.
With King returning, the battle for a starting job is at the power forward position between Dwayne Collins and Jimmy Graham. Collins earned a majority of the starts last season as a freshman and is a strong, athletic power forward. His offensive game is slightly more polished than Graham and he is an amazingly effective offensive rebounder. No matter who starts, both Collins and Graham will see significant minutes and knowing there is depth in the paint is always helpful. The depth continues with Raymond Hicks who averaged nearly 20 minutes a game in 2006-2007 and will fill in off the bench at both forward spots this season. The Hurricanes have a lot of talent in the frontcourt and backcourt, but that will not mean much if nobody can get the scorers the ball. Finding a point guard early will be the difference between a post season berth and another trip to the ACC basement.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jack McClinton, Junior, Guard, 16.7 points per game
James Dews, Sophomore, Guard, 3.1 points per game
Brian Asbury, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Dwayne Collins, Sophomore, Forward, 8.6 points per game
Anthony King, Senior, Center, 7.9 points per game