Miami’s weekend started with so much hope on Thursday after a 67-53 victory over Stanford, but ended in despair after a second consecutive loss at the hands of in-state rival Florida.
After the commitment of 5 star forward Lonnie Walker on November 16th, and a quick 4-0 start to the year, ‘Canes fans were as enthusiastic as ever about the future of Miami’s basketball program.
Following a 1-2 record in Orlando; however, several problems have risen for Miami that simply point back to youth.
Miami’s most consistent contributor throughout the tournament was junior Ja’Quan Newton, who was one of the premier sixth men in the country last season. Newton scored 20+ points in Miami’s first two games of the invitational, and scored 15 points in the third place game on Sunday.
Other than Newton; however, consistent performances were hard to come by for Miami, and the offense struggled as a result.
The ‘Canes never reached 70 points in their three games, and could not score more than 56 points in their final two. The defense showed up for Miami, but inexperience showed on the offensive end.
After scoring 18 in the opener, sophomore Anthony Lawrence combined for 8 points in the final two games, and senior Davon Reed never found the rhythm during the tournament Miami fans are used to seeing from him.
Inconsistency was simply the trend throughout the invitational, and will force Miami to soul search moving forward.
The heart of Miami’s season has yet to start, and this invitational does not even begin to close the door on Miami’s NCAA tournament hopes. Instead, this weekend is simply a reality check and a learning experience for the future.
The ‘Canes have the talent of a team that can make a run in the ACC, but in order to do so, they must improve on those areas in which they struggled mightily. Miami must get more consistent scoring performances from the wings, and need more from inside forces such as Dewan Huell and Kamari Murphy.
Miami has many three point shooters that fit Larranaga’s offense to a tee, but in order to get knock-down shooters such as Dejan Vasiljevic involved, their expected systematic approach must come into effect.
Larranaga is used to having a high scoring offense, and he has now recruited players to the program which fit his scheme. He once took George Mason to the final four on the heels of that offense, and has led Miami to two sweet 16’s under it in Miami. The ‘Canes have lived off of high percentage three pointers in the past, but Miami could not find that rhythm over the weekend.
Despite the inconsistency, this tournament was by no means a call to panic for the young ‘Canes, but instead, a reality check which will help Miami’s young players develop for the heart of their schedule.
It should just be a matter of time before Miami fits their pieces together, and the Hurricanes Big 10 ACC matchup versus Rutgers should be a large indicator as to where the team will be moving forward.