Miami is inching closer to the bulk of their out-of-conference schedule that welcomes a potential top 10 match-up at Minnesota (Nov. 29) and the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii around Christmas that could have a Miami-USC final. The Hurricanes boast a flawless record to date at 3-0, but will need to tighten things up moving forward. As the Canes haven’t hit the floor since Thursday, let’s empty the notebook of stats and observations that are standing out thus far.
You’ve Got to Make Your Free Throws
Coach L must be losing sleep at night when thinking of his team’s production at the charity stripe to this point as they’re shooting 50.8%. In very small sample sizes, Bruce Brown is shooting (2-9) from the line as Anthony Lawrence is shooting (1-6). This is something to monitor going forward.
Speaking of Bruce Brown...
The sophomore guard’s shooting slump isn’t only at the free throw line as he’s also shooting 22% (2-9) from deep this season. Last season, Brown shot 34.7% (33-95) and at a much higher clip in spot-up three-pointers. No need to worry about Brown’s shooting just yet, but it is a bit odd.
The Big Ten / ACC Challenge
The previously mentioned match-up against Minnesota will be Miami’s most important out-of-conference test for an early season measurement as well as NCAA resumes come March. This is arguably the most intriguing match-up in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge as it features two non-traditional basketball powers trying to cement their place in the top 10. Minnesota made the NCAA tournament as a 5-seed last season, but lost to Middle Tennessee State in the Round of 64. This will be Miami’s first true road game and it will certainly matter come blind resume season when the committee will bash the Canes if they don’t have a great out-of-conference road win despite the brutal ACC schedule. Yawn.
Miami’s averaging 12 Turnovers per Game
If ball security and free throws continue to be a problem, Miami may not be able to live up to the hype surrounding the program. The turnover issue could just be due to finding a rhythm early in the season, but as always, Ja’Quan Newton is at the center of the possible turnover issue. Newton has eight turnovers, almost averaging three per game while only averaging two assists. The senior point guard is the key to cutting down turnovers for the whole team as he sets the example.
Balanced Scoring Attack
Through three games, the Canes have four players averaging double digit points, yet that doesn’t include NBA talents Brown or Lonnie Walker who averages 9.3 and 7.7 points per game respectively. The four Canes in double digits are Newton (14.0), Dejan Vasiljevic (12.7), Dewan Huell (12.7), and Ebuka Inzundu (10.0). As the season progresses, Brown and Walker are expected to average double digit points, but can the balanced scoring attack continue at this magnitude? Vasiljevic and Inzundu are the players to monitor as they’re the most likely to dip below the 10.0 mark, but each have vital roles in the rotation to keep their production steady.
The injury bug needs to stop flirting with this highly touted team in Coral Gables. Walker has already suffered separate knee and ankle injuries, yet is cleared to play. Brown, who hasn’t missed any game action, sprained his ankle in a practice last week as well. Then, redshirt freshman Sam Waardenburg, who was expected to be in the rotation, has yet to make an appearance this season with a back injury. This roster is deep, but in order to survive in the ACC, health is a huge factor.