The Canes have had an up-and-down start to the conference schedule, and last week it looked as if the team was likely to fall off the tightrope after news came out of Bruce Brown Jr. being out for 6 weeks with a foot injury. Brown was the team’s leading rebounder and playmaker despite having some inconsistency scoring this season. Many of us looked to Lonnie Walker IV to pick up the slack, which has happened to a degree, but the new glue to this Canes squad is the oft-forgotten Anthony Lawrence II.
Amp has had a slow increase in production as the season has progressed, especially lately, averaging 11.5 points and 6 rebounds in the 4 games leading up to Saturday’s big matchup with a Virginia Tech team that also has tournament aspirations. In the loud Cassell Coliseum on VaTech’s campus, Lawrence did not shy away from the moment, as he put on the performance of his career with 25 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 assists. Amp was everywhere on the floor, and constantly found himself making big plays with the rock in his hands.
In the two games since Bruce Brown Jr. has been out, Lawrence had 2 double-doubles (he had 10 points and 10 rebounds last Wednesday against Pitt). Canes fans were concerned where Brown’s missed production would come from, and Amp has taken it upon himself to solve the Canes’ rebounding and scoring woes. Virginia Tech has a bevy of long defenders who can knock down 3’s at any time, but they were neutralized by Miami’s efficient scoring led by Lawrence (9-10 from the field). As soon as the Hokies obtained any momentum, Amp took the ball and drove it right into the teeth of VaTech’s defense and finished with ease. This put the Hokies on their heels, and allowed the rest of the Canes to fill in for a nice offensive performance as a whole.
Before the season, I wrote a player profile on Anthony Lawrence II (you can read that here) and in that article I talked about how Amp was capable of super-efficient all-around performances on a regular basis. So far, Lawrence’s play has led the Canes back into the top 25, and hopefully he can continue to lead Miami back to their place among the premier programs in the country, as we expected earlier this season.