The Miami Hurricanes (10-6, 2-4) will yet again face another daunting task when they welcome the No. 9 ranked Florida State Seminoles (15-2, 5-1) to the Watsco Center Saturday afternoon.
The Seminoles are playing some of their best basketball in recent years. Fresh off a 54-50 victory over UVA on Wednesday, the team is on an eight game win streak, including a 78-65 win over No. 11 Louisville on Jan. 4.
Miami, conversely, dropped its last game to North Carolina State 80-63 on Wednesday. The Canes led for almost all of the first half, but the Wolfpack ended the last three minutes of the half on a 10-0 run to give them a 33-25 lead at halftime. Chris Lykes scored a game high 20-points, but the Canes couldn’t keep up and NC State’s lead held for the rest of the game.
The Hurricanes lack of depth has posed itself as a serious problem in the past few games. Against Pittsburg at home last Saturday, guard DJ Vasiljevic and forward Sam Waardenburg both played all 40 minutes of the game. When Lykes fouled out of the game with eight minutes to go, Harlond Beverly was forced to step up.
“We are finding out the logistical problems with load management,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said on Friday before the game.” We can’t really practice and prepare the way we’d like to.”
Miami is without Keith Stone, Nysier Brooks and Deng Gak. Sam Waardenburg is dealing with a knee issue and Anthony Walker is healthy, but has not made enough progress to get playing time. With guards forced to play out of position, Larrañaga is hoping that Walker, a freshman forward, can eventually step up and provide the Hurricanes with the depth they need in the paint.
“We are hopping that the light bulb goes off and he starts figuring it out. He is really the back up four and five,” Larrañaga said. “It’s not healthy for the guards to have to play so totally out of position.”
Miami’s issues of depth will without a doubt be a problem against a Florida State team that rotates in 10 to 12 players on a regular basis. The Seminoles are led by guard Trent Forrest, a 6’4 senior in his third season as the starting point guard of the team. Forrest is averaging 11.8 points per game and has 69 totals steals this season. FSU’s two other guards, Devin Vassel and Anthony Polite, are 6’6 and 6’7, respectively. Polite, who comes off the bench, scored a team high 14 points against Virginia and has been the team’s best 3-point shooter.
“Coach Hamilton has built his program around athletes with tremendous size and length,” Larrañaga said. “Their guards are very big. So even the matchups at the guard spot favor them. They are not quite as big at the center position but they still go 10 or 12 players deep. They can sustain their pressure defense for 40 minutes.”
As a team, Florida State is averaging 9.5 steals per game and is forcing an average of 18.4 turnovers a game. Miami will have to control the tempo and not turn the ball over if they want to keep the score close.
“Just gotta take care of the ball,” Chris Lykes said. “We’re probably going to have to slow the pace down a little bit. We are not as deep as Florida State is, so just take care of the ball and don’t let them get transition buckets.
“It’s gonna be a fast paced game,” center Rodney Miller said. “That will definitely play a big part in it.”
Miami will be looking to get its first win against a ranked opponent this season. Tip off is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game will be televised on the ACC Network.