The 2016-2017 season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Hurricane Hoops. The team lost four starters to graduation, including stars Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. Davon Reed, the only returning starter, carried the team at times through a season of ups and downs. But the breakout player was freshman guard Bruce Brown, a five-star prospect from Boston, Massachusetts.
And a breakout game for the breakout freshman happened on February 25th, against then #10 ranked and the eventual ACC champions in the Duke Blue Devils. Brown led the team in scoring with 25 points while going 11-for-18 from the field. The moment did not seem to faze the young wing player.
“I think I've been playing in big time games my whole life,” Brown told reporters after the win, citing experience in big time high school and AAU games, “I don't think it affects the way I play at all. I play the same way every game.”
“He’s not caught up in hype,” said Head Coach Jim Larranaga said after the game, “That’s why he plays so well in these games.”
It would be easy to get caught up in the hype with an ACC power and basketball blue blood coming to town. The game was played before a packed and energetic sellout crowd at the Watsco Center, but Miami focused on getting settled into the game with their defensive effort.
“I thought our team defense was really good today,” Larranaga said while also praising Duke’s Luke Kennard and Frank Jackson who led the Blue Devils in scoring with 16 points apiece. Jackson started in place for the suspended Grayson Allen.
“They [Kennard and Jackson] are two very talented players in this league,” said Senior wing player Davon Reed, “We know they can get it going at any point, so the plan wasn't to keep them from scoring, but to try to make their shots difficult, to not let them get easy shots.”
Defense was a key to victory for the Canes, who went a combined 11-for-40 when Brown’s shots are taken away.
“They’re good defensively,” Duke’s Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski said in disappointment after his team’s loss. “It was tough to get shots. The way the game evolved, it lent itself to physicality.”
The harmony between offense and defense led to what was arguably the biggest win of all of last season, and the Canes look forward to many more memorable wins this season.