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Finishing Strong: Miami's Erik Swoope Playing like a Man on a Mission

Among the biggest reasons the 'Canes are playing better of late is the effort of their undersized power forward.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If you've caught any of the Hurricanes games of late, you are sure to have seen any number of eye popping plays from senior forward Erik Swoope.

Earlier in the season however you would have most often find Swoope on the bench cheering boisterously for his teammates and never complaining about a lack of PT.

Given his personality, it is not shocking that he put the team above himself.

"Erik is a very pleasant young man"  explained his Aunt, Felicia Swoope.   "He has always had a lot of friends. What you see on the court is what he is like. He's very passionate but also selfless.  Anything he puts his mind to, he accomplishes.  At the same time he is just a regular guy amongst the guys."

Miami Coach Jim Larranaga added,  "Erik has been the absolute best role model as a student athlete you could ask for. His sophomore and junior years he was relegated to a role as maybe our 9th player. And earlier this year it started out that way and maybe it was a mistake that I made by not giving him a better opportunity to show what he was capable of doing. But lately he has really stepped forward."

Through Miami's first 19 games, Swoope averaged just a shade under 10 minutes a game and even had 2 DNPs. But when his number was called he was always ready, as evidenced by the clutch 14 points he had at UNC on 1/8 off the bench.

Lately not only is he starting, but Coach L and staff can't seem to take him off the court (no less than 18 minutes over UM's last 9).

And for good reason.

Over his last 3 contests Swoope has averaged 14 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and connected on 62% of his shots. All while playing his usual lights out defense and making hustle plays all over the floor.

Whether getting the basket with aplomb, or shutting down the opponents best player, the 6'5 220 pound senior seems to do whatever the team needs of late.

Against Norfolk State on 2/1 he chipped in with 4 blocks.  Two games back Vs Boston College he was a surprisingly efficient facilitator with 4 assists.

Additionally as one of the best athletes in the conference, Swoope often sparks the team with his unworldly finishes at the rim. He has become quite the regular on ACC Digital's "Must See Moments." (see below)

In a season full of unexpected developments, Erik Swoope's recent play is certainly one of the nicer stories for Hurricanes Hoops' fans.

And more importantly, he is making big time contributions to a steadily improving squad that is finishing the season strong.

Coach L may have summed it up best,

"Erik has been a great leader.  He's provided us great energy at both ends of the court. He has added a new dimension to our offense that has been critical. He's just a great kid and I am very very proud of him."

'Canes fans have reason to be proud of him as well.