Few can doubt the heart of the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team, but, game after game, it seems like that heart gets shattered into millions of pieces. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (13-13, 4-9 ACC) did not fail, for the second time this season, to help in the heartbreak process.
Senior center Kyle Visser’s ability to punish the Hurricanes down low and sophomore guard Harvey Hale’s ability to knock down threes and free throws late in the game helped the Demon Deacons hand the Hurricanes their sixteenth loss of the season.
The 74-69 loss was yet another tough ACC loss for the Hurricanes (10-16, 3-9 ACC).
The team, behind stellar second half play from sophomore guard Jack McClinton, sophomore forward Brian Asbury and freshman forward Dwayne Collins, had kept tight for much of the latter part of the second half. Yet, despite McClinton’s ability to make it rain three pointers, the Miami frontcourt’s readiness to grab offensive boards and hit second chance buckets, and the large turnover disparity favoring the Hurricanes, the team still came up short.
A major concern, which Miami has been unable to find a solution to, is the team’s inability to force their opponents into taking bad shots, as it has become almost an expectation that opposing teams will shoot better than 50 percent from the field and from behind the arc.
Wake Forest did exactly this, as they shot 57.9 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from downtown.
It might seem a little contradictory, but the Hurricanes did play good team defense. They forced 18 turnovers and showed quickness when closing out open opponents while playing in a zone defense. Effectively, Miami made the Demon Deacons work for almost every shot.
Problematically, when the ball handler was able to get inside the zone it caused the defense to collapse and leave one of Wake Forest’s big men open for a layup. Much of this can be attributed to Miami’s depleted frontcourt, but if Miami stands any chance of doing damage in the ACC Tournament, they will have to do something about being more physical down low.
An additional issue that has plagued the team is their inability to play for 40 minutes. At times it seems that team has forgot how to play defense, as opponents run up and down the court, hitting open shots and getting easy dunks and layups. On other occasions, the Hurricanes hit extended scoring and field goal droughts, leaving the team in formidable situations.
On a positive note, the team did see the return of one of its big men, as Jimmy Graham registered two points and two rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
Additionally, the Hurricanes can be excited about the resurgence of McClinton, the development of Collins, the growth of Asbury and the consistent play from guards Denis Clemente and Anthony Harris, as these things should prove to be quite useful when the Hurricanes make their final push this season.
Pravin Patel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.