Sophomore guard Davon Reed walked onto the court for the first time this season and received a standing ovation late in the second half, his Canes down 14 to the Green Bay Phoenix.
At the half, Reed had told one of the coaches that he’d get taped up and ready to go. His enthusiasm had inspired Miami to climb the Mt. Everest of a deficit they had formed off missed jump shots and wide-open three-pointers, but it wasn’t enough.
The Phoenix handed the Hurricanes the season’s first loss, 68-55.
“Green Bay did a tremendous job of executing their game plan,” said coach Jim Larrañaga. “They’re a driving team. They were able to drive it on us and get to the rim. I think once they did that, they had tremendous confidence in their ability to keep scoring on us…there was no resistance at the rim.”
Freshman guard Deandre Burnett racked 21 points on the board, a new career high after 19 in Tuesday’s win over Illinois. Redshirt junior Sheldon McClellan followed with 16 and guard Angel Rodriguez has 12, all in the second half. Even with the stats, Burnett was more concerned about the big picture.
“My teammates and my coaches put me in a good position to score the ball,” Burnett said. “But 20 points tonight doesn’t matter with the L. It never matters with the L.”
The Canes lost on the same day that another mid-major, New Jersey Tech, beat Michigan 72-70 in Ann Arbor, and the day after Yale upset Connecticut. Larrañaga has been around college basketball since 1967, playing in Providence, and said that the mid-majors are closing the gap fast because of player development.
“Primarily, because of age…that Green Bay team has a number of seniors, players who have developed in their system (and) in their program,” Larrañaga said. “A kid like Keifer Sykes is an NBA prospect; he’s considered one of the top 50 players in the country…(Kenneth) Lowe I thought killed us, he was only 4/7, but his baskets were right at the rim, where he just bullied us and we let him do it.”
Sykes scored 18 points in the win, second only to Carrington Love’s 20 for Green Bay.
The Canes tip off at 7 p.m. Monday at the BankUnited Center (BUC) – the last game before final exams.