New team, same high expectations

When you look at the roster for this year’s men’s basketball team, there are a few things that jump out. First, the two leading scorers from last year’s team, Robert Hite and Guillermo Diaz, are no longer there. Second, with only two seniors and seven new faces, the team is young.

The team, whose season will start on Nov. 11 at home against Florida International, will be experiencing a shift in their makeup. Given that Hite and Diaz are no longer available, returning players will have to assume the responsibility.

“I think we got caught a lot last year watching those two guys play,” Head Coach Frank Haith said. “We’ve got to have [new] guys step up into that more prominent role.”

Haith said the team’s structure allows multiple players to be solid scoring options, a luxury the team did not have in the past.

“We can be a team with more balanced scoring,” he said. “We can have four or five guys averaging double figures. The beauty of that is that any given night, we can have certain guys have good games.”

A large part of that flexibility comes from the new players joining the team.

“We’re taller, we’re bigger, we’re stronger and we’re faster collectively,” Haith said. “We have athletic post players that can get up and down the court. I do think that we’ll be a transition-oriented team.”

The added height will also provide the Hurricanes with more stability in their half-court sets, as they will look to shy away from the perimeter offense that was a large part of the last few Miami teams.

“We’ll be a more inside-out oriented team,” Haith said. “Our post players will be a big part of what we do offensively. Hopefully, we should be better from an execution standpoint and have a more consistent play.”

Many other teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference also lost key players. Despite their opponents’ relative inexperience, Haith understands that the schedule will still be very challenging.

“Our league is so good, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s a very challenging schedule for a young team, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Haith has held on to the same expectations he had for teams in the past, even with the internal changes.

“My goals don’t change. Every year, our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “That should be our goal every year.”

Haith said the team will be depending on the student body to show their support.

“For our student body, this is their team,” Haith said. “Their support and attendance is vital to our success. We don’t only want them, we need them.”

Joel Brown may be contacted at