The University of Miami men’s basketball team dominated the Southeast Atlanta
All-Stars Monday night, in their first exhibition game of the 2002-2003 season.
The Hurricanes came out firing and never looked back on their way to a 102-71 victory over a team of players who played for colleges including Georgia, Cornell, and Georgia State.
The game didn’t start well for the ‘Canes as senior point guard Michael Simmons took the ball the wrong way after the tip-off and got called for a backcourt violation. However, everything seemed to flow their way following the tip-off mistake.
James Jones hit two three-point shots early in the game on his way to 19 points in 26 minutes of action. Darius Rice, a preseason candidate for the Naismith and Wooden Awards for the best college player in the nation, also collected 19 points while leading the team with eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Every Hurricane player that dressed for the game got a chance to play at least ten minutes, while the five new freshmen got their first taste of college basketball. Robert Hite, the AP High School Player of the Year in Ohio last year and Armondo Surratt, an All-State selection from Oakland, CA looked like the most promising additions to the team. Hite scored eleven points in nineteen minutes, while the lightning quick Surratt put up solid numbers with seven points, three steals, and three assists in 18 minutes.
Fans at the Knight Sports Complex got to see a little glimpse of the future in the first half as Surratt fed Hite a sweet pass and Hite finished the job by draining his only three pointer of the night.
“I was really pleased with how unselfish we played and the way we were able to pace the game,” head coach Perry Clark said. “For the first time out it wasn’t bad.”
That unselfishness showed as the Hurricanes dished out 25 assists compared to only eight assists for the All-Stars. The “Canes also dominated on the boards, out rebounding the competition 49-38.
Although the center position remains a concern for the ‘Canes after losing Elton Tyler to graduation, the Hurricanes owned the All-Stars down low, out scoring them 44-14 in the paint. Rafael Berumen and Rodrigue Djahue performed well at center and should get some help in six weeks when 6-8 junior William Frisby comes back from a foot injury.
“I thought [Berumen] played well, and I thought Djahue stepped in and played well,” Clarke said. “When you can flank them with Jones and Rice, we don’t need them to necessarily score big numbers for us, but they need to rebound and finish when they get the opportunities, and the guys we have are capable of doing that.”
The win gives ‘Canes fans hope that this season might provide the same magic as last season when the team won a school record 24 games and earned its fourth NCAA Tournament bid in five years.
Darius Rice thinks that this year’s team can better what last year’s team accomplished. “We have a lot of doubters, but I’m always positive about our team,” Rice said. “I think we are going to win a National Title.”
You can reach Nate Johnson at NPJ44@aol.com.