#34 Miami Men's Basketball Preview

Miami Hurricanes

Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
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2010-11: 21-15, 6-10
2010-11 postseason: NIT
Coach: Jim Larranaga (First year at Miami, 470-334 overall)

It took a special situation for Coach Jim Larranaga to leave George Mason. He found it at Miami. The Hurricanes boast a very talented team, but that talent is dropping due to some key injuries. Reggie Johnson will likely be on the sidelines until January after suffering a knee injury over the summer. When healthy, Johnson is a beast under the basket. Last year he averaged 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. Miami will need him to be at full strength as soon as possible since this team is lacking in frontcourt options.
Who’s Out:
One of those options would have been Julian Gamble, but he tore an ACL and is out for the year. Gamble is not a big scorer, but he did start 13 games last year by Johnson’s side and could do the dirty work. Adrian Thomas is the only major loss who will not be coming back. Thomas, a 6-7 forward, was more of a shooter than a bruiser under the basket, but he was very good at what he did. Thomas knocked down 2.6 three-pointers per game and really stretched out the defense.

Who’s In:
A couple transfers will play a huge role on this team. Kenny Kadji heads to Miami from Florida. At 6-11 and 251 pounds, Kadji will have to hold down the frontcourt until Johnson returns. However, it has been quite a while since Kadji played in a real game. It was back in 2008-2009, as a freshman, when Kadji averaged 4.4 points and 2.7 rebounds with the Gators. After that he spent a year on the sidelines with an injury and another year as a transfer. If he is not ready to play, the Hurricanes frontcourt will be in big trouble early in the year. The other transfer is Trey McKinney Jones who comes to the Sunshine State from UMKC. McKinney Jones is a big 6-5 guard who can score in bunches. With his eligibility, Coach Larranaga will look to run a four guard offense part, if not most, of the time. McKinney will at least provide some experienced, quality depth and do not think McKinney Jones only put up good numbers because he was playing in the Summit League…he can play in the ACC. The lone freshman on the roster is Bishop Daniels. The 6-3 guard is a great athlete who will make his mark on this program, but it will not be this year.

Who to Watch:
The amount of talent on the perimeter is ridiculous. Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant are two of the best in the league. Both are fine playmakers who can make things happen for themselves or their teammates. Scott is not a bad shooter, but he does most of his damage around the basket and even helps out on the glass. Grant knocked down 42.3 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc last year and is one of the better shooters around. Grant can also get to the basket and do some scoring in the paint. Those two are efficient and productive players. The scoring numbers may go down a little bit due to the talent around them, but Miami will rely heavily on Grant and Scott. Garrius Adams, DeQuan Jones and Rion Brown all started some games last season and will battle for a couple starting spots, joining Scott and Grant on the perimeter. Those three are wings, but they are all 6-6 or 6-7 and at least one of them will be asked to spend some time at the four spot on occasion. Adams played the most last season, averaging 7.3 points per game with 24 starts. He is a good rebounder and a decent outside shooter. Jones has the most size and girth to fit in at the four spot. Unlike Adams and Brown, Jones spends most of his time in the paint and that is not a bad thing in this situation. Brown is the wildcard of the bunch. The 6-6 sophomore’s only five starts came during the postseason and he performed quite well. Against some opponents, Brown will work at the power forward spot despite his 194 pound frame.

Final Projection:
Erik Swoope and Raphael Akpejiori are more traditional forwards. Swoope only stands 6-6, but he is 230 pounds and growing. He started nine games a year ago, but only averaged 6.5 minutes per contest. Swoope will not be a long term answer, but he may be needed to help out on the glass while Johnson is on the sidelines. Akpejiori played less than Swoope last season, but is a 6-10, 230 pound forward. The sophomore is still coming into his own and he will have to make an impact early in the year. If he can improve during that time and provide some quality depth to Johnson at the five spot later in the campaign, the Miami frontcourt will be in great shape by February and March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Malcolm Grant, Senior, Guard, 14.8 points per game
Durand Scott, Junior, Guard, 13.6 points per game
Rion Brown, Sophomore, Guard, 4.4 points per game
Garrius Adams, Junior, Guard, 7.3 points per game
Kenny Kadji, Sophomore, Center, DNP last season

Madness 2012 NBA Draft Rankings:
#42 Durand Scott
#55 Reggie Johnson

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