November 24th, Miami outscores Detroit 6-0 over a 4 minute stretch to start the second half and blows open a close game. Miami would finish out with a 42-31 advantage overall in the second, on the way to an easy 77-62 victory.
4 days later the Canes control the 2nd 40-28 on the way to their biggest win of the season, a 67-59 win over #13 Michigan State.
Against UMass on December 1st, it was a 45-37 edge.
Charlotte?!?! Different game, same story. 44-24 domination!
A six point deficit at the half to LaSalle was obliterated to the tune of a 46-23 2nd half smashing.
And last night, despite waiting a little longer then usual to unleash the run, the 'Canes came up big again in the second stanza 38-27. As a result UM was able to end a 10 game losing streak to UNC, and go 2-0 in the ACC for the first time ever.
On the season Miami has outscored opponents in the second half by an average of 39-30.
How have they been able to do it? Let's take a closer look at some of the reasons.
Coaching Adjustments: Last night when it was apparent the Heels could not defend the high pick and pop, Miami ran it to death. Again and again, Kenny Kadji and Julian Gamble would set a high screen that Durand Scott and Shane Larkin would use to penetrate and drive to the hoop or hit the open man on the wing. Give Coach Larranaga credit for sticking with what worked. Against Detroit, Nick Minnerath was unstoppable in the first half, but pedestrian in the second (match-up adjustment). Last night it was Reggie Bullock who couldn't find the basket in the final 20 minutes. These are just a few examples. Give the players credit for these adjustments as well, but time and time again Coach L and staff has proven to be one step ahead of the opposition when its needed most.
Balance: When the 'Canes need a clutch bucket in the 2nd half, the options seem limitless. Shane Larkin can hurt the opposition with a pull up (see Michigan State) or Durand Scott can capitalize with a fearless drive to the hoop. Trey McKinney Jones is clutch from deep, and Kenny Kadji can hurt the opposition with a jumper or a drive. Julian Gamble has done yeoman's work down low in Reggie Johnson's absence. All season long, Miami has had enough weapons that no opposition can focus in on shutting down one player. This makes them a helluva lot harder to adjust to, and thus a dangerous team as the game gets later.
Poise: Past UM teams have struggled to hold leads, especially when facing the press. But with Larkin and Scott , Miami has 2 very guard point guards who can beat the pressure with their handle, smarts, and good decision making. McKinney Jones has been very solid in this regard as well. The 'Canes always seem to know when to attack and when to control tempo. Excellent guard play makes for a poised team, an this is a huge reason why they have been a special second half club. Having 4 starting seniors is another big reason for the difference.
Defense: With the Heels threatening to make it a game in the final minutes last night, Kenny Kadji came up with two HUGE swats to help put it away. This is just the latest example of a Hurricane coming up with a big stop when the club needs it. Make no mistake about it, this is a team that plays outstanding defense in both halves, but no team can make the kind of second half runs Miami makes with out turning it up a bit on the defensive end.
Conditioning: Coach Larranaga has referenced the outstanding work that strength and conditioning Coach Jim Krumpos has done with team, on more then one occasion. With Miami's starters logging heavy minutes, and the team still saving their best for last time and time again, it is evident the man knows his stuff. UM players rarely look winded at the end of the games. And fatigued teams rarely execute down the stretch on the level the 'Canes are. Give Krumpos tons of credit here.
When you add up all these factors up, you have a very strong team that loves to come out in the 2nd half. If Miami continues to make timely late game runs, they might just end up making a special late season run.