Men’s basketball season on horizon

With Jack McClinton, one of the greatest players ever to touch the hard court for the Hurricanes, gone, the 2009-2010 Miami Hurricanes will look to fill the void of the two time first team All-ACC selection and get back to the NCAA Tournament they reached two years ago.

Sixth-year head coach Frank Haith believes his team can reemerge and rebound off their disappointing 7-9 record last season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This year the Canes are predicted to finish 10th in the ACC preseason media poll.

“We’re are excited for another season. Our goal is to be in the top half [in the ACC],” Haith said. “Our goal is to play in the NCAA Tournament – as it has been every year. Do I think we have a team that could do that? Absolutely. I think this team talent-wise is very capable of getting to that point and a lot will be determined between now and when we get to league play in developing our young kids.”

Haith has already established this team will be different from the two previous years. Haith sees this team being the best defensive team he has ever had at Miami and envisions his offense of involving more motion, fast pace and a driving offense.

“I think this team is more well-rounded,” Haith said. “We’re going to be able to score. I think we can have four to five guys averaging double figures. We have some veterans and we’re excited about their improvement over the last season. We’re really excited about the newcomers and what they bring to the table. So I like the make up of our team.”

The Canes, who have advanced to at least the NIT in four of the last five seasons, return two starters and three players that started 16 or more games last season.

The back court will be the strength of Miami. On the wing, seniors James Dews and Adrian Thomas will lead the charge. Both are the best returning three-point shooters.

Redshirt sophomore Malcolm Grant will take over as point guard and there has been plenty of hype around Grant since transferring from Villanova. Grant will add a versatile style of play for the Canes as he can create his own shot and set up shots for his teammates.

Look for sophomore DeQuan Jones to improve both offensively and defensively.

Off the bench, much will be expected from freshmen Durand Scott and Garrius Adams. Haith expects both to come in and contribute right away.

Dews likes the depth in this year’s team.

“I feel like we have a deeper team this year,” he said. “I feel like we’re capable of having three to four players in double figures. So this year is going to be a pretty good year for us.”

In the front court senior forward Dwayne Collins will lead the way. Last year, Collins was second on the team in points with 10.6 per game and led the Canes with 7.3 rebounds. Collins needs to go hard every single night for Miami to be in the top half of the ACC.

Next to Collins, the Canes will have a problem with Jimmy Graham no longer on the team. Senior forward Cyrus McGowan will join Collins if the Hurricanes go with a big lineup. McGowan started out strong for the Canes last season but trailed off towards the end of the season. In the last 13 games, McGowan only scored 24 points combined.

The Canes play an exhibition game on Monday at 7:30 p.m. against Florida Southern. The regular season opener is Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. against North Carolina Central.

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted