Going into the season opener against the Western Carolina Catamounts (apparently they exist), the 'Canes were expected to win. And they did not disappoint in that regard, but there are definitely some questions about this young team. Will the mix of exciting young players and a handful of experienced players be a successful marriage?
Returning a handful of contributors, JaQuan Newton, Davon Reed, Anthony Lawrence, and Kamari Murphy - the 'Canes are very young and it's obvious that for the team to get into the tournament, at least one (if not more) of the true freshman will have to step up (Dewan Huell, Bruce Brown, Rodney Miller, Dejan Vasiljevic). It's also clear that Ebuka Izundu will have to contribute on the boards and be able match the physicality of fellow ACC big men.
Did tonight give us any answers?
Izundu got the worries started early by picking up 2 moving screen fouls in less than a minute, forcing him to the bench. Three minutes in, the 'Canes had as many offensive fouls as points (3), but the Catamounts were unable to score.
Dewan Huell had his first dunk as a 'Cane on the break, and Miami started to slowly pull away. Reed nailed a 3 - and with the departures of Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez, Reed is going to have to put points on the board and be more aggressive taking it to the rim.
Bruce Brown drew a foul and scored on a nice drive. As far as frosh contributors go, Brown is who I most have my eye on. Traditionally, the adjustment to the college game favors guards in making an immediate impact. It will be interesting to see how both Huell and Brown will fare as the level of competition improves.
Anthony Lawrence drilled a three and is likely poised for a big season. Kamari Murphy ran roughshod all over the Catamounts, but the senior big needs to come up big in ACC games this season. One of the areas that might hurt the 'Canes this year is rebounding - and Murphy is going to have to snatch his share of boards if the 'Canes are going to compete.
The 'Canes sustained the attack through the first half, taking a 41-18 lead into the locker room. Their length and athleticism was too much for Western Carolina to handle.
In the second half it was more of the same. The 'Canes dominated from the outset. Newton, Lawrence, and Izundu (with a monster block) got in on the action early. By the time the game ended, the 'Canes had a whopping 92-43 victory.
The Good: A win is a win . . . is a win. The 'Canes won convincingly.
The Bad: Not much bad to speak of here. The 'Canes did what they were supposed to and some of the young players showed some flashes.
The Ugly: Izundu's 2 quick moving screen fouls in the first minute of the game.
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