Basketball

A promising future for a young team

Sophomore Julian Gamble goes up for a shot. The University of Miami basketball squad beat Virginia Tech for the second time this year, this time in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC.

After going 0-8 on the road in the ACC, the University of Miami men’s basketball squad was determined to show critics they were capable of winning games outside of the BankUnited Center.

The way the Miami Hurricanes’ ACC season was playing out, it didn’t look as though they could squeeze out a win. Instead, the Hurricanes advanced to the ACC semifinals for the first time in school history.

Despite the amazing run in Greensboro, N.C. by beating No. 5 Wake Forest and No. 4 Virginia Tech, the Canes were left out of the NIT which showcases the best 32 teams that did not make the field of 65 in the NCAA Tournament.

But now is the time for the Hurricanes to grow and burst out next year.

Next season, guard play will be a strong suit for the Hurricanes. Scott was Miami’s first ever ACC All-Rookie team selection and he received ACC All-Tournament First Team.

Next year, Scott will be leading the team at point guard and next in line will be red shirt sophomore Malcolm Grant. Even though Grant doesn’t start, he closes down the stretch and consistently gets starting minutes. The combination of Scott and Grant should be the fastest backcourt in the ACC next year.

Head coach Frank Haith knew the backcourt improved throughout the season.

“We had a young team with a freshman point guard and a sophomore backcourt,” Haith said. “That takes times. It’s like having a freshman quarterback. Our guys got better. We have a very good foundation moving forward.”

At the end of the season, sophomore forward DeQuan Jones really stepped his game up. His jump shot was falling and he was the best defensive one-on-one player Miami had.

If Jones can bring that same style and intensity over to next season, then the Hurricanes will not finish last in the ACC again.

Miami will have only one senior next year with forward Adrian Thomas being granted another season, redshirt freshman center Reggie Johnson.

Johnson was named ACC All-Tournament Second Team. He was the biggest surprise for the orange and green this year.

Johnson averaged 13.7 points and a team-high eight rebounds in the ACC Tournament. Johnson finished the regular season third among all ACC freshmen in rebounding average and was 10th among all players in free throw shooting in conference games.

However, the Canes will be thin in the post. Next in line, will be redshirt freshman Donnavan Kirk off the bench. Kirk has yet to play and the post might be the weak point of the team.

Right now, it looks like the Hurricanes will be adding only two players in their 2010 class. One is a 6-foot-five-inch shooting guard Rion Brown from Hinesville, Ga. The other is power forward Raphael Akpejiori, a 6-foot-9-inch Nigerian native who played ball in Kansas.

The problem for the two will be being able to crack the lineup. It will be difficult for Brown to jump Antoine Allen, Garrius Adams, Scott and Grant in the backcourt.

Also, it will take some effort from Akpejiori to move ahead of Kirk. Plus, Haith has been known to redshirt post players in the past.

Haith is excited for his team down the road.

“You can just see the potential of this basketball team,” Haith said. “I think our best basketball is ahead of us in this program. These guys are all babies and we’re only going to have one senior on our team next year, so I think it’s going to be a team that can have some success down the road, a lot of success down the road.”

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at lledoux@themiamihurricane.com.

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March 24, 2010

Reporters

Lelan LeDoux

Senior Sports Writer


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