Can't lie to you Eye on The U Crew. I've been enjoying my summer break even though a few stories have roped me back into work and kept me away from the beach. That being said, its never a bad thing to give you a place to talk Canes. Let's start with the men's basketball team.
I know I'm not breaking any new ground here, but losing the Devin Ebanks sweepstakes to Indiana is a tough loss for the Canes. When Ebanks, one of the country's Top 10 recruits in the Class of 2008, spurned UM Saturday and announced his intentions to go to Bloomington (READ THE STORY) it was a painful loss for coach Frank Haith who invested years and plenty of time and energy trying to make Ebanks his first big catch at The U.
But as painful a loss as it is and as much as Ebanks would have helped Miami and Haith, I'm not ready to say his loss is a poor reflection on Haith. I'm not trying to defend him. I'm just trying to be fair. Sometimes when you swing for the fences, you miss the ball. All big time recruiters do. Yes, Haith was hired in-part because he was a great recruiter and the expectations were he could snag a few guys like Ebanks who could help turn UM's fortunes around. But to say Haith failed in recruiting Ebanks and thus is a failure as a coach and recruiter is not an opinion I'm ready to agree with yet. While many UM fans may point to the past and how the Canes were once able to snag Darius Rice, a McDonald's All-American, in 2000, I'm sure many will forget the Hurricanes were coming off one of their best seasons in school history. Last year's Hurricanes team finished 4-12 in the conference and 12-18 if you forget and had one of the worst home crowds in the country. I don't care how good of a recruiter you are. When you're trying to win a war with a water water pistol, while your enemy from Indiana has an army and an AK-47 in his hand, winning a recruiting battle is next to impossible. And that's what Haith was up against.
Aside from that, Ebanks is a player many experts believe won't be in college very long. Getting him certainly would have been huge, even if for one season. But what Haith needs is time, support, and the type of recruits -- he'll hate me for saying this -- Leonard Hamilton was able to bring into Miami after taking his lumps in the early going. Hamilton got some talented, tough players like Johnny Hemsley, Mario Bland, Tim James and John Salmons, who helped take Miami to the next level with defense, athleticism, hunger and grit. Haith has some of those guys. Unfortunately, some of them, like Adrian Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Anthony King, were hurt most of last season. And that's what the 2006-07 Hurricanes lacked.
Wednesday's news on UM receiving its first commitment in the Class of 2008 (READ THE STORY) was an encouraging sign. Quincy Roberts, a 6-5 combo/guard from Harrisburg, Pa., isn't a blue-chip recruit. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him three-stars. But he seems like a kid who has a lot of good ingredients. I spoke with him and his high school coach for about 15 minutes each Wednesday (CHECK OUT THE AUDIO LINKS ON THE STORY). Roberts is not only a good student, but an overall great player who makes his teammates better. He played quarterback on the football team and according to his coach is fearless, tough and strong. Most guys from outside Philadelphia are. According to his coach, he only averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists last season. But he's a kid who helped his team, which has three other Division I recruits, to the state final four two years in a row (CHECK OUT A VIDEO LINK HERE). Either way, his signing gets UM on the board in 2008, which is important on its own. It's also not bad to mention how new assistant coach Jake Morton played a role in recruiting Roberts, who said the former Cane text messaged him everyday for months. Roberts told me Haith told him he wanted one swingman and two bigmen in his Class of 2008. I'll keep you posted as more news develops with other recruits.
Now let's talk football, where all signs are pointing toward the Canes having one of its best recruiting classes ever. Yeah, I said it. Ever. And that's truly because Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties may be stacked with its best talent in years and Randy Shannon's hiring has made UM the hot place to be again. No commitment might be more important than Northwestern quarterback Jacory Harris, who committed to UM just last week (READ THE STORY). Harris, who set Miami-Dade passing records last season, is the frontman and leader to one of the nation's best high school teams. He is respected everywhere he goes. His commitment will likely spew several more of the nation's top players UM's way, including teammate and receiver Aldarius Johnson who should be the next big recruit to commit to Miami this summer. Covering high schools the way I have for years, eventually it will become a domino effect. I suspect much the same way Lakeland sent nearly all of its big studs to Florida last year, this year it will be UM's turn to grab all the best the 'West has and more locally.
The fact UM and Shannon have 10 commitments -- and 10 major local studs at that -- this early tells me Miami is well on its way back to its old days when the local talent wanted to stay home. And if it stays that way, it shouldn't be too long before the Canes are playing for championships again.
P.S. - I was on the radio last night with The Dos Amigos at 790 The Ticket. We talked Canes hoops and the latest regarding the new law passed to randomly test high school athletes in Florida for steroids. Check it out here.
Anyway, I'm out. Feel free to chime in on what's eating you up this summer regarding the Canes. I wouldn't mind turing a few of your questions or comments into another blog entry the next time around. I should be back with another blog in the next two weeks. I'm not scheduled to be back fulltime from vacation until July 21. Until then, there will be some sporadic blogs. Enjoy the summer. I know I will.