With the departure of one of the greatest players to ever compete at the University of Miami in Jack McClinton, the 2009-10 men’s basketball team set out to prove it could be a better unit without him.
However, the Canes fell short with a 20-14 (4-12 ACC) record.
Despite going to the National Invitation Tournament last season under McClinton, the Hurricanes didn’t qualify after a rough end to the regular season.
Picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Miami got off to a 15-1 start for the first time since the 1959-1960 season and finished its non-conference slate with a perfect 14-0 record.
Cracking the polls for the third year in a row, the Hurricanes went 3-11 the rest of the way. UM failed to capture any wins in eight conference games away from the BankUnited Center.
It wasn’t until the ACC Tournament that the Canes played their best basketball of the season as they upset two of the best teams in the tournament despite being the lowest seed.
Miami beat Wake Forest and Virginia Tech before losing to the ACC Champion and National Champion Duke Blue Devils.
Prior to this season, no team in program history had ever won two postseason conference games in the same season. Even when the Hurricanes shared the Big East Title in 2000, the Canes didn’t win two games.
And the team did this without its leading scorer and rebounder, recent graduate Dwayne Collins.
“You can just see the potential of this basketball team,” head coach Frank 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.”
Guard play will be Miami’s strong suit this upcoming year.
Towards the end of the season, rising sophomore Durand Scott took over for the Canes and proved to be the playmaker the team needed. Scott was Miami’s first ever ACC All-Rookie team pick and he received ACC All-Tournament First Team.
He will share the backcourt with redshirt junior Malcolm Grant. The pair could be the fastest combination in the ACC this upcoming season.
Scott said he is ready for the challenges presented to him and his teammates.
“I was born to do this. I live for this,” Scott said. “As a team we have to get better and we will have a better season next year.”
Redshirt sophomore Reggie Johnson, who was an ACC All-Tournament Second Team pick and was named Most Improved Player on the team, will be the force in the paint.
“I learned a ton. The speed of the game is so much different from high school to college,” he said.
“Dwayne Collins taught me a lot. He showed me moves in the post and I became a better player. I treated the practice like it was my games and kept telling my teammates just wait until next year.”
Said Haith: “There’s no question, the way these young guys played at the end of the year, it gives us encouragement going into next season. There’s reason to be optimistic about what this team is capable of next year. I think we are capable of having a great year.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at email@example.com.