The 2017-18 campaign is now underway, but as we are in just in the beginning phases of the season, it is not too late to reflect on this season’s goals.
Last year was a transition year, and to many analysts, a borderline rebuilding season. The Hurricanes intentionally slowed the pace of play down, leading to many lower scoring games. Last year, the Canes averaged under 70 points per game, which ranked in the bottom half of the ACC and nation.
“As a team, we were one of the worst teams in the country in terms of effective field goal percentage,” said Coach L at the team’s media day. Effective field goal percentage is field goal percentage adjusted for the point difference between two and three pointers, a stat Miami finished 157th nationally last season.
Larranaga however, is confident that those issues will not linger into this year.
“We’ve got so many more weapons,” Larranaga said, “If you look at who we lost, who shot threes, it was Davon Reed.”
But more three-point shooters return than were lost, and it is not really even close.
“We’ve added Chris Lykes who shoots threes, Lonnie Walker shoots threes, Sam Waardenburg shoots threes, Ja’Quan Newton is shooting is better and so is Bruce Brown.”
However, Larranaga stressed that this team must not live and die by the three.
“We really need balance in our offense, we have to have our big guys score.”
This leads to the primary offensive goal this season.
“If we’re going to average let’s say 75 points per game, each position needs to have 15. So if one guy starts and averages ten, and the guy who backs him up averages five, then we’re going to be pretty good at that position. But if one of the big guys averages six and the guy who comes in for him averages four, that won't be the balance that we really need, so that our opponent has to worry about everybody.”
So how do the Canes do that? When the team is a few more games in and a bit more settled into the season, the starters should be Lonnie Walker, Bruce Brown, Ja’Quan Newton, Anthony “Amp” Lawerence Jr, and Dewan Huell.
Last year, Newton averaged 13.5 and Brown averaged just under 12. If DJ Vasiljevic, a reserve guard and three-point specialist, can average 5.5, we get to 15 per wing player. And DJ can score a lot more than that on any given night.
Lonnie Walker will see many reps at the point. Without any prior collegiate stats, it is hard to predict precisely what he’ll do, but with his talent, I like his chances to get to 15 alone. When Walker exits, Brown will become the point guard and Chris Lykes will enter the game to take Brown’s spot. I am confident that Lykes will be able to pick up any slack left by Walker.
Anthony Lawrence can play small forward or stretch four and averaged a touch under seven points per game last year. Big man Dewan Heull started at center and averaged just below six points. Coming of the bench to play post will be redshirt freshman Sam Waardenburg and Junior Ebuka Izundu. We expect the two starters to raise their scoring average, but we don't know by how much. If they could just score three more points per game each, then Izundu and Waardenburg will need just 5.5 each to get the offense to its goal of 15 points per position.