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A Closer Look at Miami Basketball's Trip to Spain

The Hurricanes enjoyed a once in a lifetime educational and life experience, but also played 4 exhibition games. What, if anything, did we learn on the court from the excursion?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

UM completed the trip with a perfect record of 4-0, including two blowouts at the end. The stats for the most part were impressive. And the results seem to indicate that the team improved over the course of the journey. But because of the obscure nature of the 'Canes opponents it is hard to come to too many conclusions.

Nonetheless, here are some observations:

  • Sheldon McClellan led the way at 20.0 ppg on 62% shooting, and added 5.5 rpg and 3 steals a contest, and even when Angel Rodriguez returns (DNP in Spain with injury), it is hard to imagine the 6'6 swing man won't be the 'Canes top player this season. McClellan is long, athletic, and skilled enough to allow him to score in a variety of ways, AND he also has the tools to be an outstanding defender, something the coaching staff will undoubtedly work tirelessly with him on.
  • Versatile Freshman G James Palmer was exceptional in Spain as well, shooting a team best 68% from the floor and also hit 57% (8-15) from distance en route to 11.5 ppg. He also chipped in 10 assists and 8 steals.   There was some thought that with UM's deep back court he could redshirt this season.  That no longer appears to be an option. He's just too good to sit the bench.
  • JUCO transfer Ivan Cruz Uceda collected 11.5 rpg on the trip, but because the level of competition and in particular the size of the teams Miami played, it's hard to determine just how impressive this is (as a team UM out-boarded their International foes 51.8 to 27.0 per contest) . However when examining the highlights from Spain, as well as some of his JUCO footage, you can see he has excellent hands and knows how to position himself for boards.  The biggest question long term is whether the 6'10 240 Uceda will have the athleticism and conditioning to hold up against the ACC's better big men.
  • Joe Thomas was just 1-3 from the field in 4 games on the trip. The 6'7 Niagra transfer did produce 5.3 rpg and 4 blocks overall.  While he may not be the player on the roster who gets you the most excited, he could be a key cog. There is nothing wrong with having a guy on the roster who is only interested in doing the dirty work and defending.
  • At first glance, freshman Ja'Quan Newton's 13.5 ppg looks good.  But he also collected a team high 16 turnovers. He is very skilled taking the ball to the hoop, but needs to do it more selectively.
  • Tonye Jekiri averaged just 4.8 ppg in the 4 games.  We keep hearing about how hard he works and how improved his offensive game is, but he has yet to show any kind of consistent offensive presence. If Jekiri is relegated to a being a trash man and an above average defender/rebounder that would be fine for this team.  The evolution of his offensive game however, would make UM all the more dangerous. At 7'0 235 and with the way he runs, one would expect more production than what he has shown thus far.  Additionally the 2 DQ's (we assume he fouled out) in 4 games is also troubling.  Whether he scores or not, Miami needs him on the floor as much as possible for his size.
  • Manu Lecomte quietly averaged 6.8 ppg and 4 apg game on the trip.  But a lot of the highlights were of #20 pushing the ball up court to either directly lead to a bucket or gets things started.  As loaded as Miami now is a guard, it is easy to forget how good this guy was at the end of last season. It's hard to imagine many teams in the country, nonetheless the ACC, have better options at the point this coming season than Miami.

OVERALL STATS IN SPAIN

Here are some of the Highlights:

(FYI some key performers)

#10 is McClellan

#0 is Newton

#1 is Deandre Burnett,

#12 is Palmer,

#22 is Omar Sherman,

Full Roster can be found HERE

Stay tuned for much more coverage as we close in on Hoops season.