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Giving Props to the 2015-16 Miami Basketball Team & Looking Ahead

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The season ended unceremoniously last night. But it was still a great year, and the program has a bright future. We salute this year's team, and forecast next season's rotation and more.

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First and foremost, I do not believe UM played anywhere near their best game last night.

But had they, it may not have mattered.

Villanova was/is an absolute buzz saw.

Sometimes you have to just tip your cap to the other team.

Coach L acknowledged as much, shortly after defeat,

"Normally, if I look at a stat sheet and we've shot 53 percent from the field, 58 percent from three, I think we probably won the game. But you look at their stats, 62 percent from the field, 66 percent from three, and 95 percent from the foul line, they're just an incredible offensive team."

Well said Coach.

Next up, I want to give props to the seniors, whose careers with the 'Canes ended last night.

By the end of this campaign, there was no longer "Good Angel Vs Bad Angel."

Angel Rodriguez concluded the season as one of the best PG's in America and the unquestioned leader of this squad.

He played with heart, passion, and effective aggression.  No way the team makes it as far as they did, or has the season they had, with out him.

Credit AR for overcoming what ever led to his earlier inconsistencies.

Sheldon McClellan,  if NBA execs have a clue, we'll see you at the next level.

What a sensational player you have become.  Great effort last night too, even if in a losing cause.

Very few players that are as talented as Mac, improve so much over 3 years.   He'll be hard if not impossible to replace.

Tonye Jekiri, was hope you are healthy first and foremost.

TJ has come a long, long way from the freshman back up who could only finish lobs.  He's also one of the smartest defenders the program has ever seen.

But his play down the stretch makes me wonder if he wasn't battling a nagging injury.

Either way, he deserves a ton of credit for how very far he has come.  And we he hope he too gets a long look at the next level.

Ivan Cruz Uceda saw his minutes dwindle these past few weeks.   But he did a fantastic job improving himself from his first season in the program.  His early contributions helped make the season such a success.

And what a season it was.

27-8 overall, 13-5 in the ACC.  Puerto Rico Tip Off  Champions. Tied for 2nd in the ACC.  #3 Seed. Sweet 16 Appearance.

Now you could argue that they could have perhaps done more.

But this team, while incredibly talented on the perimeter, lacked consistent inside punch and struggled to rebound.

They were an athletic, entertaining, confident, and experienced group.

They made magic with a talented cast of unselfish and hard working players.   Their effort never came into question.

But in the end the 2015-16 Miami Men's Basketball Team ran into a better team.

And that's okay.

Great job fellas!!

Looking Ahead.

Next year's team returns a few key members from this edition, and features a host of talented newcomers.

Davon Reed is arguably the best returning piece.    We need more aggression from the senior to be.  He has the talent to be an ALL ACC type player.  With McClellan and Rodriguez gone, it's his team to lead.

Ja'Quan Newton has a sensational sophomore season.   He will take the reigns at PG.  Can he improve his jumper? Will his ball distribution catch up to his scoring?  Will he be a leader?   All those questions remain to be seen. But with the coaching staff he has surrounding him, expect more from Newton next season.

Kamari Murphy provided great defense and athleticism in his first season with the program.  UM could use him to be more of a force on the glass, and provide some inside punch as well.  But he's a nice piece either way.

Anthony "Amp" Lawrence Jr. figures to make a huge leap next year.  He showed his talent and court savvy in flashes as a freshman.  We love his future.  He's an above the rim Swiss Army Knife waiting to be unleashed.

James Palmer did not see consistent minutes, and his play sometimes suffered.  He'll have a lot of competition for minutes next year as a back-up PG/wing.  The 6'4 Washington D.C. native has some game though.  His role will be interesting to see as it evolves.

San Jose State transfer Rashad Muhammad should not be expected to come in and fill the void of McClellan.  But he has some talent.  He should earn some minutes on the wing.  How he defends will be paramount to how much he plays.

Ebuka Izundu,  we need ya big fella.   Jekiri did it all under the glass.  Izundu has the length and athleticism to make up for some of that loss.  But he needs to learn how to stay out of foul trouble, as well as add some girth to his frame.

Even at Duke and Kentucky, projecting incoming freshmen is no easy task.

I think 6'4 combo guard Bruce Brown comes in the most ready to make a dent.  The back court is crowded, but this kid is electrifying.

Dewan Huell is the highest rated player in the class, and comes in at a position of need, PF.  I imagine he will have no problem putting up points.  His D/rebounding will be key though.

Rodney Miller projects as a back to the basket post player this program sorely needs.  But he will need some time to develop.

And Dejan Vasiljevic could be the point guard of the future.  Right now he would appear to be more comfortable off the ball though. How much he plays next year will be another story line to watch.

My way too early projected rotation for 2016-17:

C - Huell

PF - Murphy

SF - Lawrence Jr.

SG - Reed

PG - Newton

Sixth Man - Brown/Muhammad/Palmer (what a battle this could be)

First big off the Bench - Izundu

Fighting for Minutes: Miller, Vasiljevic

There are plenty of question marks.   But that is not a bad roster at all.

The program remains in very good shape.

Two Sweet 16 appearances in 4 years is a very good building block.  They have a staff that is unquestioned in their preparation and overall ability to get the most out of players.

This year showed how much they excel in player development.  It was a great season.

New challenges lie ahead.

But there is no reason this program can not return to the same level, and perhaps go further in seasons to come.