Yes we know, despite the awful loss this past weekend there's no need to panic, and football is still king. But just in case you wanted to take a break from the gridiron, we are here to tell you Miami's basketball team has a chance to be special this year. With out further delay, here are our top 10 reasons the 'Canes can win the ACC this season:
1) Reggie Johnson is healthy. With the exception of monster performances against FAU (15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks) and his super duper Super Bowl Sunday destruction of Duke (27 & 12), Reggie was not himself last season. Word around the program is, "heeeeeee's back!!!!" If the 6'10 300 pound Johnson is at 100% he is a match-up nightmare for every big man in the country.
2) The Progression of Shane Larkin. The son of hall-of-fame baseball player Barry Larkin, averaged 7.4 ppg 2.5 rpg 2.5 apg and 1.6 stls last season.. Larkin may already be one of the quickest players in the country and played exceptionally well at the end of the season. If his floor game improves he could become a superstar.
3) Kenny Kadji is the most versatile big man in the ACC. Over a 5 game stretch last season, Kenny Kadji averaged 17.5 ppg 8.1 rpg 2.0 blcks and knocked down 8-16 from long-range. If Kadji can bring that kind of effort consistenly and improve his rebounding, Miami will be very difficult to beat.
4) Julian Gamble is back. The 6th year senior was granted medical hardship by the NCAA, and while his numbers will never wow you, his grit and leadership is invaluable. Gamble gives Coach Larranaga much needed depth at the 4 and 5 spots as well.
5) Rion Brown is ready to break out. While he averaged only 6.9 ppg last season, expect more from Brown this year. Brown averaged 14.7 ppg over the last 4 games of the season, when things seemed to click for him. Along with the prettiest stroke on the team, Brown showed off explosive athleticism in 11-12. Expect his star to rise with the graduation of Malcolm Grant opening up minutes next season.
6) Trey McKinney Jones is underrated. McKinney Jones averaged 7 ppg 3.5 rpg and shot 37.5 % from downtown last season. TMJ hit several clutch shots through out the year and at times was Miami’s most consistent player.
7) Miami is due for some breaks. Untimely injuries, back breaking suspensions, and poorly officiated games all hurt the 'Canes last season, and they still finished 9-7 in the ACC. Minus all the distractions and bad luck, the sky is the limit for this squad.
8) Alex Oriakhi transfers to Missouri. When Oriakhi announced he was transferring from UConn, the ACC big boys (NC State, UNC, and Duke) were all salivating at the possibility of landing the big man on campus. Old friend Frank Haith, however, does UM a solid and gives Kadji/Johnson one less big body to contend with.
9) Duke, FSU, and North Carolina all lost key performers. Say goodbye to Austin Rivers, Bernard James, and Kendall Marshall. Yes we know Seth Curry, Michael Snaer, and James Michael McAdoo return But Miami hung in tough with these teams last year, and the 'Canes return nearly everyone.
10) Pack the BUC!!!! Historically attendance at the Bank United Center has been anything but impressive. But expect that to change. First, the team is going to be VERY good. Second, coming off the championship that Lebron James and the Heat delivered, South Floridians will catch basketball fever. Finally Charlie, Josh, and I will not rest until it becomes so!!
And with that, we return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
Let's go 'Canes!!!