Redshirt sophomore Sam Waardenburg came to Miami last year with a wealth of experience at the international level, playing on various national teams and showcases while living in his native New Zealand. He was offered by Miami, Virginia, SMU and Utah as a result, and decided to join the Canes. What Miami was getting was a stretch-forward adept at operating within the confines of international basketball. This type of player has translated to the American style of basketball in many other cases, but only after putting a greater emphasis on rebounding, developing an inside back-to-the-basket game, and improving on interior defense. Waardenburg’s success in Miami will be determined by those same factors, so let’s see where he was last season:
Waardenburg has a sweet stroke from 3, as evidenced by his 43.8 3-point percentage from last season, and he is a capable finisher on the move to the basket in pick-and-rolls or making cuts out of set offense or transition. Where he struggled was creating his own shot close to the basket, rebounding and holding his own on the defensive end. Coach Larranaga has established that the minutes are there for Waardenburg, as the staff asked Rodney Miller Jr to redshirt this season, and even handed Waardenburg his first start last Tuesday in the exhibition against Barry. For the coaching staff to leave him on the floor for more than the 16.7 minutes per game he averaged last season, Waardenburg will have to improve on his 3.3 points per game on 41% from the floor, and his 2.8 rebounds per game also from last season. He’s shown glimpses of the type of play the Canes will need from him, such as his 7 rebounds against Louisville (1/24), his career-high 12 points against Wake Forest (2/7) and his 23 minutes and 6 rebounds in the Canes comeback victory over Boston College (2/24).
It’s a nice wrinkle in the lineup for the Canes to have big man who can stretch the floor to contrast the playing styles of Dewan Hernandez and Ebuka Izundu, but at 6’10”, Miami needs Sam Waardenburg to excel at some more traditional big man tasks to take the next step and sure up the inside rotation for the Canes.