Hello from San Juan, Puerto Rico where the Canes' men's basketball team is set to take on Marist. Like we usually do on Saturdays for football, I'll take you through this hoops game with updates and observations.
For those of you at home, the game is being carried by ESPNU and is on locally at 1360 AM. WQAM's Josh Darrow and I are the only two Miami reporters here for the tournament. But it doesn't mean we can't have some fun and bring you Canes news. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts throughout the game and let me know what is going on in Miami. What are your worries and concerns with the football team this week? Too many I'm sure.
- In case you missed it, Jack McClinton is starting at point guard today. Expect McClinton to play a lot of it in the early going this season. I spoke to coach Frank Haith who said that's the position McClinton wants to play most. Its also the position he'd be playing at the next level.
- Canes lead 1-0 after Brian Asbury makes 1 of 2 free throws. UM has a distinct size advantage. The Canes need to take advantage of it in this one.
- A Jack McClinton three-pointer with 17:40 to go gives the Canes a 4-0 lead. Anthony King already has two big blocks early in this game.
- Jimmy Graham, who looked bad in the opener, has played well so far early. He's got three offensive boards, 2 points and a huge block.
- In my conversation with coach Haith last night, he told me his goal this tournament is to get off to good starts in each game. And so far, UM has come out with the energy Haith has been looking for. If this is how this team can play this season in more than just spurts, they are going to win a lot more games and they aren't going to finish in last in the ACC.
- At 15:05, Dwayne Collins, Lance Hurdle, Ray Hicks and Adrian Thomas enter the game. The only starter who remains is McClinton.
- I'm really liking what I'm seeing from James Dews early on this season. He just hit a three-pointer to make it 15-4. But Dews is making a lot of plays defensively and when he does take shots he rarely misses. He's turning into the perfect compliment for Jack McClinton in the backcourt. Haith has wanted to get him in the starting lineup and get him starter minutes since the end of last season. You can see why.
- Dwayne Collins isn't starting. But he's finishing. He's got 6 points -- check that 8 points after a another basket while drawing a foul -- and is making his presence felt in the paint. The best part about it is he's not messing around. He's catching the ball, turning and scoring quickly. Sounds like he's listening to coaches.
- Have a break here with 3:41 to go in the half and the Canes leading 35-15. Big picture-wise, I know this Marist team doesn't have a lot of size. But what I like from this UM team is the chemistry I'm seeing. No selfish play. And guys have confidence they can score. Last year, I saw a lot of uncertainty before guys took shots. Like if there was no leader on the floor. You have to big leaders now in Anthony King and Jack McClinton. And you have nice sidekicks in James Dews and Dwayne Collins. And the team is playing good team defense. A lot of hustle plays.
- Dews, McClinton, King and Collins go into the break with eight points each.
- James Dews continues to impress. Another three-pointer. If he can continue to play like this, he's going to make it hard for Haith to take him out of the starting lineup.
- Lance Hurdle is starting to heat up. He's got back-to-back 3-pointers. Adrian Thomas follows with UM's third straight three-pointer to make it 60-31 with 11:26 left.
- Freshman Edwin Rios is fitting in nicely with this team so far. There's no question he's the best pure point guard. He's a great distributor. But what I like about Rios, who can also light it up, is that he's not being selfish. He's dishing the ball to his teammates and getting excited about it. He leads the team in assists today. Let's see if Rios can stay happy with his role.
- Even Fabio Nass is getting into the act with an offensive rebound over two guys and a putback. You know its a good day when Nass, the 11th guy in this rotation is contributing.
- Marist has gone on a little scoring run late bbeund guard Jay Gavin. The Red Foxes were pretty good last year with Jared Jordan. They won 25 games and beat Oklahoma State in the first round of the NIT. But this team isn't nearly as good. The thing is, they are still decent and Miami is dominating them like they should. That's what fans should take from this game.
- The Canes will move on in the winner's bracket and take on Virginia Commonwealth tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. VCU is coached by former Gators assistant and Miami High grad Anthony Grant. VCU upset Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. Should be a good game.