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Canes Hoops: Riding the Defense Until the Offense Fully Figures it Out

Similar to Canes football, Miami’s basketball team tends to rely on strong defensive efforts while the offense catches up

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Five games into the season and it’s still hard to figure out what we should all make of the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team. Yes, we know that the No. 11-ranked Canes are good. Yes they are talented.

But through the first five games, Miami (5-0) has only played one team that currently has a winning record (Navy). The first, and likely only big non-conference test comes next for the Canes when they travel to the Twin Cities to take on No. 14 Minnesota.

One thing that has not been hard to figure out so far this season is that Miami’s defense looks good. Really good. Through five games, the Canes’ defense has allowed 270 points (54 points per game). Going into Saturday afternoon’s game against North Florida, Miami was second in the country in points per game allowed. The Canes may slip a few spots after allowing a season-high 65 points to an Osprey team that was mostly shut down, but had a few minutes each half they could not miss from three-point range.

The Canes also boast top ten rankings in field goal percentage defense and three-point percentage defense. And it’s not like Miami is near the top in stealing the ball or forcing turnovers as a whole (ranked 128th and 87th nationally going into the UNF game, respectively). But they’ve used their talent to their advantage early on against teams they are clearly superior to.

NCAA Basketball: North Florida at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In way, the Canes basketball team reminds me of the football team. Even during the times when the offense is struggling to get it going, you can feel pretty good knowing that the defense will do the job. Miami’s offense hasn’t been bad by any means. But watching it so far, you just know that it can be so much better.

Minnesota’s offense is ranked in the top 20. They most recently scored 89 in a win over Alabama (although they were curiously outscored when they had a two-man advantage over the Crimson Tide). Jordan Murphy averages north of 20 points per game and three more Golden Gopher players average double-figures in scoring. It will certainly present Miami with a good test.

If the Canes show they can defend a team like Minnesota, it should bode well for ACC play which will potent offense after potent offense at them.