Basketball

Patel: Almost not good enough for basketball team

Coming into a season they started ranked No. 16, the Hurricanes men’s basketball team fell victim to the “almost” bug.

The Canes lost six of their 11 regular season losses by five points or fewer, including three overtime losses. This landed Miami in the NIT, instead of an expected birth in the NCAA tournament, where Miami suffered a 74-60 loss to the Florida Gators after having knocked off Providence in the first round.

Miami’s inability to close out tight games and their mediocre performances in the second half of games are two of the major reasons the team had to settle for a 19-13 record.

Similar to their late-game letdowns, the Canes dropped nine of their last 13, including a first round loss in the ACC tournament and the second round NIT loss.

Besides the “almosts,” the season was also marked by inconsistency.

From coming up big in certain games to being invisible in others, junior forward/center Dwayne Collins had a roller-coaster season, disappearing in games where he was needed most. Additionally, senior guard Lance Hurdle, senior forward Brian Asbury and junior guard James Dews did not contribute in the same way, down the stretch, that they did last year.

Why note these things? The reason is quite simple. The team from two years ago had no expectations, but they rose to the challenge, finishing the season on a 9-4 run and making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Despite the increased expectations, this year’s team, on the other hand, faded down the stretch, going 4-9, and got knocked out of the NIT in the second round.

This disparity was magnified by the inconsistent performance of senior guard Jack McClinton during the last eight games of the season, as he struggled to find his stroke while dealing with an injury.

It will be interesting to see how this team responds next season. With the departure of star player McClinton, Dews, Hurdle and senior Jimmy Graham, all of whom started throughout or at some point this season, the Hurricanes will not have the burden of expectations on their shoulders. It will be left to see if the young Canes learn how to spread their wings and soar in an always-competitive ACC.

March 25, 2009

Reporters

Pravin Patel


3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Patel: Almost not good enough for basketball team”

  1. uv says:

    Blaine, if you’re referring to not hosting an NIT game, I would say most would deem this argument as weak and moot.

    Firstly we were, unfairly in my opinion, a 4-seed and would have only been able to host one game. Secondly, I highly doubt the attendance of a game against Providence would reach the levels of any of the ACC games of this past year.

    (aside: compared to the last few years, the students did a tremendous job at showing up in big numbers this year.)

    I’m not so much of a pessimist for next year; will there be struggles and lack of both identity and leadership? Yes. However the expectations are infinitely lower for next year than this year.

    That’s important because having a true PG since who-knows-when will have a major impact. Malcolm Grant is the real deal; expect to hear the phrases “nice entry pass” and “alley oop,” ones that didn’t exist in ’08-’09.

  2. Blaine Jones says:

    Canes fans should expect very little progress being made to build a championship basketball program. After the recent Latin concert debacle, competing schools will use this embarrassment to lure the great recruits away from the Miami program. Our competition will not forget even if the loyal Cane Fans will.

  3. Nate Skinner says:

    Actually, Dews isn’t a Senior..He will be coming back next year the seniors on the team were Asbury, McClinton, Graham and Hurdle. Secondly, Asbury stepped up down the stretch, if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have been able to force the VTech game to OT earlier in the season, because he carried the team. This season turned on the facts that A)We didn’t have a legit PG on the roster, and B)We couldn’t depend on Collins. Combine that with some lapses against the garbage teams in conference(NCState,Georgia Tech), and that’s how you manage to blow a relatively decent chance to make the tournament. Last season, we lost to the garbage teams, but beat the big teams to make up for it…This season, we just couldn’t close the deal against UNC or Duke, and that’s what killed us..

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