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Courtside blog: UM 69, VCU 63 (F)

Que pasa Eye On The U Crew? Checking in from the Coliseo de Puerto Rico where the Canes are about to take on VCU. I see some of you have been busy talking trash and getting into some verbal jousting. Just do me a favor and cut out the foul language.

The old asterick trick is creative, but it isn't like someone with half a brain can't figure out what you are saying. I don't want to start having to bozo people on here. What's that mean? That means you think you are posting something on this blog, but it isn't getting posted. Nice little technological trick. Of course, I don't want to have to do that. But some of you are starting to get a little out of hand. This is a Canes blog, but people with opposing views are welcome just like Canes supporters. This is an open forum. I don't want my editors to start shutting that down. OK. Enough on that crap.

Anyway, I'm going to take you through today's hoops game like I did yesterday. The game is on ESPNU if some of you can watch. It's also on 1360AM radio in Miami. Either way, feel free to chime in as this one moves along.

VCU is a good team. They got three starters back from a team that finished 28-7 last season including star point guard Eric Maynor. I spoke to a VCU assistant yesterday after the Canes played. His take: "This team is real good -- NCAA Tournament good. Anthony King has made tremendous strides. I love their size and physical play. If they can stay healthy, they are an NCAA tournament team."

VCU made the NCAA tourney last year and upset Duke in the first round before taking Pittsburgh to OT in round two. So, you can take this game as a very good measuring stick to where the Canes are in round ball.

As for me, I had some fun last night on the town. I went out with a couple of friends down to a restaurant in old San Juan called Dragonfly, a Latin-Asian restuarant with some great sushi. It's pricy, but the food was top shelf. I loved the Criollo roll (California roll with a fried plantain on top). If you are in the PR you got to check it out.

Before I went out, though, I ran into a couple of Canes players in the hotel including beloved bench-lifer Jonathan Stratton -- the walk-on white kid with blond hair who Canes fans always root to see get in the game. Stratton, a senior, is a funny dude. He told me it used to bother him when fans would root to see him get in. But he's grown to love it now. He still hasn't been able to score yet at UM's BankUnited Center. He told me coach Frank Haith got on him a little bit after he took three shots in 1 minute in UM's opener against Florida Southern -- and missed all three. Stratton, who did score last year in UM's road trip at Michigan, said his goal is to score at home before he graduates. There's a good chance he may finally do it with the light schedule UM will face at home over the next couple of weeks. I'll be rooting for him.

As for his take on the team, Stratton said this UM team has been the most fun he's ever been on. "The chemistry is great," Stratton said. "The first two years I was here with Guillermo Diaz and Rob [Hite] there was a big disconnect between guys. Some guys didn't like each other. Guys had other goals. This team is great. All of us get along. We really all like each other and it's made a huge difference. We have so much depth. And none of the guys are greedy -- not even Jack who could be if he wanted to. All we want to do it win. That's all we really care about."

James Dews told me last night he and his teammates weren't even thinking about leaving their rooms at the Condado Plaza. And I have to say I didn't see any Canes at the casino or out at the pool where a number of hot latin women were hanging out.

‘‘We're staying in our rooms," said Dews, who had 11 points in his first career start Thursday. "[Coach] doesn't have to tell us either. We've just been kicking back with each other in the hotel rooms. And that's all we want to do. Puerto Rico is just like Miami. We're focused. If we just stick together, play hard, anything can happen."

So far, it looks like nothing but good things are in store for this team.

- Another great start for UM. They led Marist 10-1 yesterday early. This team is just coming out on fire early . A lot of energy and defense. Jack McClinton and Brian Asbury each have hit three pointers and Anthony King has a nice jumper inside.
- UM leads 12-6 with 14:18 to play. Jack McClinton made his first start at point guard yesterday against Marist and was OK. He had 11 points, 2 assists and 4 turnovers. But its pretty apparent he's not the best point guard on this team. Freshman Eddie Rios is the only pure point on this roster. He came off the bench and had 8 assists yesterday. But its not the fact he had better numbers than McClinton. Rios just knows how to run an offense a little better. Haith has inserted him and Lance Hurdle in the backcourt now after this break. Let's see how they do.
- VCU has crept back into this game by playing some better defense against UM's bench. Haith has once again subbed a full five for the starting five. This UM team has so much depth. It really makes a difference when you can keep guys fresh.
- Jack McClinton has started to heat up. He's got four three-pointers to help the Canes get back in front here by a comfortable margin.
- UM has been a bit sloppy with the basketball. I've got McClinton for three turnovers. Rios and Brian Asbury have been called for charges and Collins was just whistled for traveling. I'm sure Haith isn't happy with this. But VCU has a very good defense. Every basket Miami has made today, they've had to earn with good passes and setups.
- Canes finish the half strong on a 14-5 run to open up a 36-21 lead at the break. Aside from the turnovers in the first half, UM was impressive again.

- VCU has come out with more press here in the second half. I thought UM did average against it in the first half. 10 turnovers was probably too many.
- The Rams came out with 5 quick points, but UM responds with defense and rebounding and ups the lead back to 15 behind a Brian Asbury jumper and three-pointer. Asbury is the one guy on this team that I think can be the x-factor. If he can become a more dependable weapon, this team can be even better. He's done a good job so far. But he needs to be more consistent.
- James Dews hits a three-pointer with 12:17 to play to put UM back up 48-32 and give the Canes their biggest lead of the game.
- VCU is crawling back into this thing thanks to some UM turnovers. Canes were just whistled for a 5-second violation when trying to inbound the ball.
- VCU cut it to 50-42 with 9:44 left and frustration was beginning to mount especially for freshman point guard Edwin Rios, who drew a foul for contact, but didn't get one when he was hacked. Then, Ray Hicks made a nice play for UM, driving to the hole for a lay-in to make it 52-42. UM has the ball with 7:56 left here and is trying to hold on for dear life. That VCU defense is tough. But it is a good test for this UM team, which needs to learn how to win these games -- especially with little experience at point guard.
- Miami has been getting a little lucky here a little. VCU has been missing a lot of close range shots. UM's defense deserves some credit for making them tough. But this game could be closer if not for some of those close-range misses.
- Canes have been shooting well from the line, too. 15-of-18 so far.
- VCU trims it to 52-46 before Jack McClinton hits a big three-pointer -- his fifth -- with a hand in his face. Big, big shot. Might change the momentum here.
- Less than two minutes to play and UM has a 10-point lead against a team that finished 28-7 and upset Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament last year. I'm impressed. What do you think?
- Maybe its not over. VCU has turned up its defensive intensity. UM has been called twice for 5-second violations on inbounds passes. Make that three.


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Nice to see the basketball team gelling right now. It's really a nice surprise.

On another note, was at the UA/OU game last night. Terrible to see Dixon go down, but was a ton of fun to be at. Would be really weird if UA beats ASU to get a bowl bid and Miami doesn't. UGH! I would gladly trade every UA win for those UM losses!

Thanks for keeping up with all this Manny! I know the temptation to get rocked on Tequila and hang out with those smokin' latin girls poolside has to be tough to resist!

Thank you for the comments on the language. It isn't called for and I hope you do follow throught on bozoing people if they don't clean it up

The canes are being a little sloppy some of it appears to be a slippery floor but aa lot is pressure defense and we are still perservering which is a plus. Last year it would of been different

Sorry about my posts but I think I speak for everyone when I say that I was tired of seeing this punk come in here and talk non stop crap and insult everyone here. So I called him out and exposed him for the coward that he is. I apologize to anyone I offended. Go Canes.

Sorry about my posts but I think I speak for everyone when I say that I was tired of seeing this punk come in here and talk non stop crap and insult everyone here. So I called him out and exposed him for the coward that he is. I apologize to anyone I offended. Go Canes.

Hey Manny, hope your having a good time in P.R. Dont forget to get some shrimp Mofongo before you leave San Juan.

I agree with your observations of this 'Canes team. I have been following UM bball since the coach Hamilton days, and i have never seen a UM team with more sizein the post and pure shooters. If we can avoid the injury bug i believe we can make the tourney, and once we're in, make some noise.

C'mon Canes fans, support this team and come to the BUC to watch some 'Canes bball, Lord knows we need something to cheer about.

Hey Manny I do not know if you read it or not but you really got to try Ropa Vieja, right down down the street from where you are staying. Talk about good food.
As for the Hurricanes nice to see they are playing good basketball.

Is 10 really too many when it is the 1st game situation they have faced it. I can accept that now maybe not so much later in the season.

Manny, what would this win mean to Miami? Do you think if they stay healthy they can make it to the dance now that U have seen them play three games? I know it's kind of early, but U can tell by watching the players how they are coming out to play.

No worries Robert. I just had to address the issue. I understand where you are coming from. There are times I want to tell people off. Best advice is to ignore them.

CANES25, I saw your message. I'm going to try and stop by before I leave. What should I order?

Q: Manny, what would this win mean to Miami? Do you think if they stay healthy they can make it to the dance now that U have seen them play three games? I know it's kind of early, but U can tell by watching the players how they are coming out to play. Posted by: norm | November 16, 2007 at 02:46 PM

A: I'm really beginning to like this team a lot. I think health will be the ultimate factor. Haith is going 10 deep and its making a difference because his guys are staying fresh. If Miami avoids the injury bug, I think they can be an NCAA tournament team because of its scoring balance, size inside and solid shooting from the perimeter. The defense is also a lot better. But it all comes back to that depth.

You need to start off with Malanga Soup, then Mofongo de Yuca con Camarones. But anything in their menu is very good.

I also apologize for * remarks. But it gets tiryng to hear people just keep bashing the CANES.

Yeah. Out of respect for you and this blog, I'll do that. I got a little out of hand and I apologize again.

Anyways, I wanted to let you know that I'm really impressed with your coverage of the Hurricanes and I appreciate the information that you provide. You get info that alot of people just don't get or are late in getting. I didn't notice exactly who you were until recently, when my friend pointed it out to me. I know you're probably not gonna remember me but I went to school with you in Bent Tree and McMillan.
Anyways, continue the good work and Go Canes!

I'm impressed with the free throw shooting so far this season. I know it's only been 3 games, but in college when your team shoots 80%+, you're going to put yourself into winning situations. Agree about keeping from getting injuries, but that's true for any team in any sport.

Hey Manny --- Haven't heard a lot about UM's basketball recruits. Can you tell us what you know?? Thanks -- Teddy


Letters of Intent that we have won't be announced until Coach Haith and the team gets back from Puerto Rico.

Hope Miami doesn't get to cocky with the ball.

good call on the momentum swing, manny.

How much time left, Manny?

1:20 59-51

don't count your chickens before they've hatched!

Looking foward to see them play on TV. Hopefully it will be this Sunday. I think they can surprise a lot of teams this year.

Miami has to play smart this last two Minutes.

OK guys, what's going on?

07.6 67 - 62

U BBALLers look good...

69 -63 FINAL

young team = inexperience at putting the game away. VCU isn't a chump team and they know that. Miami needs to learn how to control the ball at the end of the game when they have a lead. I'm impressed with this team so far though. Seems to me like Haith finally has the team that he wants (or closer to anyway). Go Canes!

Yeah, boy, that's what I'm talking about.

good to see the boys pull it out. I hope they get a few people to jump on the bandwagon.

" young team = inexperience at putting the game away. VCU isn't a chump team and they know that. Miami needs to learn how to control the ball at the end of the game when they have a lead."

Exactlt AZ That is what is important about this game. They are inexperenced and, in my humble opinion, needed a game like this to learn how to win one when things don't go your way at the end of the game. They will need this experience in the ACC part of the season. They know they can win this type of game because they already have. A great confidence builder for the rest of the season. Great win guys

Manny, awsome job on getting an in-depth interview with Johnathan Stratton. Nothing tells me that you are giving baskbetball at UM its due props more, than an interview with Stratt. I think that Asbury's and Rios' development, Anthony King's health, and teams focus in February are the X factors. Who else did you bump into down there Manny? Mike Byers-Dawson? Clifton Clark? Manny, you still owe me the whereabouts of J.Jackson.

Hey Manny,

i just saw the box score of the game and i noticed that Collins didn't get a lot of playing time. Did he get hurt? was he just not playing well?

i also want to know if you believe any players on our roster have the chance to make it to the NBA

I also want to apologize on using foul language. I was getting annoyed by other people bashing The U, and felt like defending our team. I realized Manny is right that people are entitled to there opinions. It's all about the U go Canes!

Heard the audio pieces u got from Harris and Jordan in the UM audio. Great work Manny!

Please stop using the term "momentum", "momentum swing", "the momentum", and any variation thereof. There is no such thing as "momentum." Commentators use it to sound profound but its an s a meaningless phrase. I cringe everytime I hear an announcer use it. If one play can "change the momemtum" then there is no value in having "it".

Go Canes.

I Love your post Manny It's great to get all the inside information that you provide every week on the U.

Great Work Manny!!!!!!!!!

I'm glad you got on these idiots that are talking all this nonsense. Cursing and writing all the Bad language. There is no place for that on this post. Also to all the real Canes Fans I know our boys are down but don't give up on the team we can still win. Go Canes.

The guy who said there is no such thing as momentum clearly never played a sport, especially not basketball. Momentum is key in basketball ... next thing the guy is going to say is that there is no such thing as clutch. Who are you, Dan Lebetard??

I think you have a gr**t blog...thanks for the h**d work you do!!

Manny...way to set the boundaries and limits for the blog. Gotta keep it civil or it goes straight to the trash dumpster quickly.

GREAT coverage of the Canes BB team in PR. Are we gonna win this thing?

F your boundaries ... let it go to the dumpster

we going to the 'ship ... we going to the 'ship

one man's trash is another's art ...

hard-core pornography hard to define ... but I know it when I see it -- potter stewart [jacobellis v. ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964)]

herald's andre c. fernandez: "Several top Miami-Dade County baseball players have chosen what side of the Miami-FIU baseball rivalry they want to be on." rivalry? MISMATCH! 35 straight postseasons, 22 world series, 4 titles v. 35 seasons of futility

U & MLB get the pick of the litter ... f$u, fu et al. fight over the carcass. TIME-HONORED

once the contracts expire, U will drop florida filth international in every sport ... that'll teach 'em. NO MAS

"A-Rod, Yankees agree to terms on $275M deal" Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park

georgia bulldog monday on georgia-based CSS ... hey Paul Dee, where's our day on this rinky-dink regional network catering to the sec with shoddy production and satellite unavailability? SECOND-CLASS

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