#36 Miami Men's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

Miami (FL) Hurricanes

2014-2015 Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #7 ACC

Miami Team Page#36 Miami Men's Basketball 2014-2015 PreviewBuy Miami Basketball Tickets

Once again Miami has a lot of rebuilding to do, but Coach Jim Larranaga has already proven that he can exceed expectations. The Hurricanes were coming off of a great year in 2012-2013, but lost just about everybody from that team. Still Miami had a winning record last season and looked decent in ACC play. Now the program hopes for more of reloading than rebuilding. While this will be a pretty young team, the Hurricanes do have some key transfers that have experience at this level. The question is how quickly Coach Larranaga can put all of the pieces together.

2013-14 Record: 17-16, 7-11
2013-14 Postseason: none
Coach: Jim Larranaga
Coach Record: 66-36 at Miami, 536-370 overall

Who’s Out:
Senior guards Rion Brown and Garrius Adams stepped up their scoring as seniors. Brown led the way with 15.5 points per game and hit a team-high 63 three-pointers. Brown also used his 6-6, 200 pound frame to lead the Hurricanes with 5.8 rebounds per contest. Adams added 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals. Forwards Donnavan Kirk, Erik Swoope and Raphael Akpejiori have also run out of eligibility. Kirk was a versatile 6-9 forward who could knock down some shots, but also led the team in blocks. James Kelly averaged about 18 minutes per game, mostly off of the bench, after a couple years at the junior college ranks. He will finish his collegiate career elsewhere. To make matters even worse, versatile guard Davon Reed, one of the better shooters on the team, will miss at least a big chunk of the season with an injury. He could be back by January, but that seems rather unlikely at this point.

Who’s In:
Nine newcomers will have to be ready to play and all five starters could eventually come from this group. At point guard, Miami will look to Ja’Quan Newton and Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez. Newton is the star of a very good freshmen class. He can get to the basket and finish or pass and make it look easy. His ability to play off of the ball could come in handy too since Rodriguez will likely take the starting point guard job. At Kansas State two years ago, Rodriguez averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists. While his offense is nice, Rodriguez will be one of the better perimeter defenders in the ACC. On the wing, the Hurricanes bring in Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan, redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett and true freshmen James Palmer and Chris Stowell. McClellan, a 6-5 junior, is not the most consistent outside shooter around, but he averaged 12.4 points per game during his two years with the Longhorns. Burnett sat out last year with a broken wrist and he was one of the best prep scorers in the country two years ago. Palmer is a very good shooter and could fill a shooter off of the bench role as a freshman. Up front there is even more experience with the addition of junior college transfer Ivan Cruz Uceda and Niagara transfer Joe Thomas, to go along with incoming freshman Omar Sherman. Uceda was very productive during his time at Harcum College and Thomas knows how to hit the glass and block a few shots.

Who to Watch:
Tonye Jekiri and Manu Lecomte are the only healthy returning players with any real experience. Jekiri, a seven-footer, started 15 games a year ago and proved to be a capable rebounder. He will be pushed by the new big guys, but his experience at Miami is important. Lecomte is a speedy little point guard who was also a part-time starter during the 2013-2014 campaign. He showed plenty of potential as a freshman, but now the point guard position is a little crowded. Still, Lecomte proved to be a capable scorer, shooter and floor leader.

Final Projection:
This team is going to look very different and not just because of all of the new personnel. Coach Larranaga has the players he needs to get up and down the floor. The offense has been very slow moving over the last couple of years, but that should come to an end now. However, that does not mean the coaching staff is going to decrease their defensive expectations. If somebody is not playing defense up to Coach Larranga’s standards, they will find the bench in a hurry. As long as the injuries are done, this team has a lot of very talented options and by ACC play, they should be able to compete with anybody the conference can throw at them.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Angel Rodriguez, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Deandre Burnett, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Sheldon McClellan, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Ivan Cruz Uceda, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Tonye Jekeri, Junior, Center, 4.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 61.5 (337th in nation, 15th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 59.5 (11, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.1 (274, 14)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.6 (39, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.6 (230, 6)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.3 (251, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.7 (211, 8)
Rebound Margin: 2.5 (106, 8)
Assists Per Game: 10.5 (315, 15)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.2 (21, 4)

Madness 2014 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#47 Ja'Quan Newton
#125 James Palmer


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