Trey McKinney Jones, Shane Larkin and Co get the season started tonight. - Kevin C. Cox
The University of Miami Hurricanes Men's Basketball season gets underway tonight as they take on the Stetson Hatters of the Atlantic Sun Conference (5:30 PM EST ESPN3) at the Bank United Center.
For months now UM fans have been eagerly anticipating the start of college hoops season. Miami has its' best team in years and has legitimate aspirations of challenging for an ACC crown and March glory. Reggie Johnson declared the team's goals as "win big" on the first day of practice. However when Miami dropped its lone exhibition contest last Friday to St. Leo's, an obscure school that has never beaten a division I opponent, some air was let out of the proverbial tire. But according to Coach Jim Larranaga it was a wake up call.
"I believe our guys learned that we have a heck of a lot of work ahead of us before we become the kind of team we’re capable of becoming," said Larranaga Sunday.
So tonight we get out first look at a team with high hopes in a game that counts. Miami has dominated the Stetson over the years,(UM is 8-0 since 2003 against the Hatters) and is expected to beat them soundly. If all goes as expected, last week's exhibition loss will quickly be forgotten. If not, it could be a very bumpy November.
Stetson Scouting Report: Stetson was just 9-20 last season but returns all five of its' starters from a year ago. 6'9 Center Adam Pegg, a Delaware transfer, (14.9 ppg 5.5 rpg) is clearly their best player. Guard Chris Perez is a high volume shooter who contributed 13.5 ppg last season, and Aaron Graham (36% 3P%) is their best deep shooter. They also have a 7 footer in sophomore Kyle Sikora, who transferred from Oakland, coming off the bench. As far as mid majors go, Stetson is a very experienced squad with respectable talent. Nonetheless if Miami is unable to win and win convincingly, it will be a bad sign for the 'Canes. Last season Stetson hung in against FSU in a 79-66 early season loss, but was ravished by both Indiana 84-50, and Florida 96-70.
Projected Starting Lineups:
C Reggie Johnson 6'10 290 SR.
F Kenny Kadji 6'11 242 SR
G Trey McKinney-Jones 6'5 220 SR
G Rion Brown 6'6 200 JR
G Shane Larkin 5'11 176 SO
C Adam Pegg 6'9 260 SR
F Liam McInerney 6'9 235 SR
G Aaron Graham 6'4 185 JR
G Joel Naburgs 6'4 200 SR
G Chris Perez 6'3 215 JR
Stetson picked a very bad time to catch Miami on the schedule. Coming off the embarrassing exhibition loss to St. Leo's, you know Coach Larranaga sent a message in practice this week. Despite missing Durand Scott (suspended for the 1st 3 games of this season) Miami has a big edge in speed and athleticism. Looks for the 'Canes to establish Reggie Johnson down low early and often, and knock down open jumpers with crisp passing should the Hatters double team. Off made baskets UM will press, and the scramble will cause fits for Stetson when they run their half court sets. Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadji will join Big Reg in double figures, and the angry and determined 'Canes will roll 92-66.