In case you missed this yesterday...
Canes (5-0) voted No. 17 in AP poll, No. 20 USA Today. Here's the story...
Hurricanes play at Charlotte tonight and home Friday vs. South Alabama? Will fans show up for a change?
In case you missed this yesterday...
Canes (5-0) voted No. 17 in AP poll, No. 20 USA Today. Here's the story...
Hurricanes play at Charlotte tonight and home Friday vs. South Alabama? Will fans show up for a change?
Hey Canes fans! From now on, I'll be posting UM basketball news on here, so stay tuned. Big news today, as pollsters clearly noticed UM's thrilling upset of No. 7 Florida and tournament win in Charleston.
According to UM's sports information staff, six former Miami Hurricanes are slated to suit up for NBA teams in the 2014 Samsung NBA Summer League, which tips off this weekend in Orlando, Fla., then will continue in Las Vegas, beginning July 11.
They are: Rion Brown (Charlotte Hornets), DeQuan Jones (Indiana Pacers), Kenny Kadji (Milwaukee Bucks), Shane Larkin (New York Knicks), Trey McKinney Jones (Miami Heat) and Durand Scott (San Antonio Spurs).
Brown recently completed his senior season with the Hurricanes, posting 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while hitting 1.9 shots per game from the 3-point line in his final season in Coral Gables.
Jones will be participating in his third NBA summer league season after spending the 2013-14 campaign playing for the Reno Bighorns. He spent the 2013 summer with the Sacramento Kings and earned a spot on the 2012-13 Orlando Magic after an impressive showing on their 2012 summer league squad.
Kadji is playing in his second summer league after spending his first summer with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Kadji played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the D-League in 2014, after starting the season with the NY Phantom Braunschweig in Germany.
Larkin, the 18th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, was traded to the New York Knicks on June 26. He appeared in 48 games as a rookie with the Dallas Mavericks a year ago. Now Larkin will look to show the Knicks what he can do as he prepares for the 2014-15 season.
McKinney Jones, who was named to the 2014 All-NBA Development League All-Rookie Third Team, averaged 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals for the 2014 D-League champion Ft. Wayne Mad Ants this season. He was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks training camp roster a year ago before starring in the D-League.
Scott was with the Spurs in the 2013 summer league and went on to play the 2013-14 season abroad with Obradoiro CAB of the Spanish ACB League. He will return to the Spurs this summer and the reigning NBA champions will take another close look at the talented and versatile guard.
From July 5-11 the Orlando Magic will host the 25 games of the Orlando League at their Amway Center practice court. The Las Vegas League will consist of 67 games between the dates of July 11 and July 21, which will be held at both the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion on the campus of the University of Las Vegas. All games will be broadcast on NBA TV, NBA.com, and on the NBA Game Time app.
PERRYMAN ON WATCH LIST
You can go ahead Hurricanes senior Denzel Perryman to another watch list. Wednesday he was named one of 40 FBS linebackers selected to the 2014 College Football Performance Awards Linebacker Trophy Watch List.
He joins teammates Ladarius Gunter and Anthony Chickillo on the CFPA watch list at their respective positions. Miami is one of only five FBS programs with a player named to all three defensive player watch lists.
An All-ACC First Team selection in 2013, Perryman started all 13 games at outside linebacker for the Hurricanes, registering a team-leading 108 total tackles including 69 solo stops. In addition to earning All-America, Honorable Mention honors from SI.com, Perryman was the recipient of the Hurricanes 2013 Hard Hitter Award and Defensive MVP award.
As a prep player at Krop, Thomas averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists as a senior. He and Rodriguez led the Lightning to a 26-6 record and its first trip to the Class 6A state Final Four.
Thomas joins eight new players on Miami’s 2014-15 roster. Five are recruits: Kamari Murphy, Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman and Ivan Cruz Uceda. Two are Big 12 Conference transfers – Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. Redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett sat out last season with an injury.
> Earlier this week, UM announced the team had an accepted an invitation to participate in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational hosted by the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday, Dec. 22. The Canes will take on Providence.
After winning the school's first ACC title and making a run to the Sweet 16 last March, it's been a rough up and down season for coach Jim Larranaga and the Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team.
With six ACC games left on the regular season slate, the Hurricanes (12-13, 3-9 ACC) have yet to win an ACC game at home and now will be without one of their key rotation players at forward in junior James Kelly, who was suspended "indefinitely" for a violation of team rules according to UM. A source close to the team told The Miami Herald the suspension was expected to last three games.
Still, as tough as it has been to replace the entire starting lineup and have four key backcourt players sit out the season because of injury (freshman guards Deandre Burnett, Corn Elder) or transfer rules (Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan), the Hurricanes have only been run off the court once in ACC action, a 67-46 loss to Duke back on Jan. 22.
Larranaga, a man who has coached man-to-man press defense for the bulk of his career, switched to a zone this year and slowed the game down (UM ranks last in Division I basketball in offensive possessions) so his team could remain in games despite the lack of offensive firepower. It's pretty much worked as UM has been in many games late including against No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Syracuse twice.
"These first three years – next year included – it’s the most variety of challenges that I’ve ever had," Larranaga said Monday during his weekly press conference with reporters. "It comes in so many different fashions. The first year it was with injuries to Reggie Johnson, to Julian Gamble, the NCAA investigation, the suspensions of Reggie and Durand [Scott] during the season. We had all of that going on. The next year we had almost everything in place all season long except a thumb injury to Reggie. While that was going on we also had to deal with recruiting during the investigation. That created a whole series of challenges for this staff.
"Now this year, with a whole new starting lineup, new guys trying to learn their position, very, very, very challenging. Now, next year chances are we’ll have a whole new starting lineup again because we’re ending the season with starting five seniors. Having to make so many changes offensively and defensively, it's been difficult."
Playing at such a slow tempo (UM is averaging 60.1 possessions a game, 351st out of 351 teams according to statsheet.com) isn't the way Larranaga or his players wanted to play.
"Once we got into games it became very, very clear we could not be an up-tempo team," Larranaga said. "We had lost one of our guards so our perimeter game was really hurt by the loss of Deandre Burnett. We had originally five guys that could rotate in and out -- three starters and two subs. Now, it’s a whole lot different. As the season has progressed I’ve had to move Erik Swoope back there. His natural position is more of a four man, an undersized four, just so we have an additional body we can play at the three."
Players like freshman wing Davon Reed, who has had to play point guard at times because of injuries, would be having a much more explosive season if UM had someone to penetrate and dish him the ball, Larranaga said. But the Canes simply don't have the personnel to play otherwise, and the players believe in the slow-paced system Larranaga has in place because they've been in so many close games.
"We don’t want to get into a run and shoot contest with the teams in our league right now," Larranaga said. "We don’t have the firepower to do that.”
Is there a temptation to cut players loose and let them play in the fast-paced offense they prefer?
"I remember doing that with one of our teams at George Mason," Larranaga said. "They were very much a half court team. They said coach we want to press and run. I said fine, we’ll do that the next game. We lost to Northeastern by 25. Then we had to play them in the tournament the very next game and we beat them playing smart.
"Every kid thinks he’s the best fast break player in America and he’s best when he’s in the open court. But what you don’t understand as a player is you might be pretty good at that, but look at the opponent and tell me 'Is our team better than their team in that?' It’s not about one individual. It’s, ‘Are we going to be able to keep up with the pace an up tempo game creates.’
"Now last year I wanted the game to be as many possessions as possible, for it to be as fast possible. We played Duke and Carolina – two of the fastest teams in the league – and we scored 90. The reason is we had a lot of offensive talent... I don’t care how much space we give Tonye [Jekiri] and [Rafael Raphael Akpejiori], they’re not scorers. And our guards have limited experience."
> Larranaga said players like Jekiri, who had a season-high 15 points at FSU but went scoreless at Virginia Tech, can't really spend time during the season trying to create new ways to score because it will throw their games off.
"You really get better during the offseason," Larranaga said. "You have to work so hard between April and September and then that package of new skills you’ve developed – that growth can continue through the season.
"During the year, when you’re trying to improve its really the things you’re already good at. Because if you start messing with the things you’re not really good at to improve them, guys will start doing them in games. And they’re not very good at it.
"Shane Larkin was one of those guys. As a freshman he didn’t have those high arching layups where he could score over big guys. In the off-season we worked on it and he became a terrific high speed layup maker who could score over big guys. But you don’t start working on those during the season. You just aren’t there yet, haven’t had enough quantity. Tonye needs to spend a lot of time on his scoring ability."
> Even though he's at UM on football scholarship, don't underestimate the loss of freshman guard Corn Elder to the basketball team.
"Huge loss because Corn Elder was someone who could play man-to-man defense and guard the dribbler very, very well and handle the ball," Larranaga said. "Then we could have two natural point guards – Manu and Corn Elder sharing the point guard position and leave everybody else at their natural spots."
> New NBA commissioner Adam Silver looks like he's going to make a strong push to raise the age minimum for players to enter the NBA to 20. Larranaga is definitely a fan of that. He also would like to see the number of scholarships in men's basketball (reduced from 15 to 13 back in 1994) return to 15.
"It’s one of the things that has been a problem in men’s college basketball when scholarships were cut from 15 to 13 and in addition to that when the NBA started taking players at a much younger age," Larranaga said. "Teams from the ACC have far more adjusting to do year after year after year than mid majors do. That’s why you see so many mid-majors doing well in the NCAA tournament. Their continuity is much better.
"The one thing about the NBA is they’re taking kids so early. You look at the No. 1 pick, Anthony Bennett, he’s in the D-League. The number of first round draft choices going to the D-League. From an ACC, high-major standpoint, the rules are now drastically impacting the level of performance. So many players going early so you’re replacing them with rookies – whether it’s a junior college kid or transfer, he’s still a first year player in your program. I’d like to see that corrected."
> Why does Larranaga think the Canes are struggling so much at home?
"Our lack of success at home can really be attributed to our lack of consistency throughout the year," he said. "We just don’t play the same way on a regular basis -– the individual player. A lot of that is guys playing out of position. We don’t have a clear 1-2-3-4-5 man. Garrius [Adams] has been playing the point the last three games exclusively. If you were to tell me before the season what’s his best position I would tell you the three [small forward]. He’s our third best ball handler. Our big guys are limited in their scoring ability. Tonye and Raf don’t score a lot at the five. So that’s puts pressure on the other guys to deliver and that allows the opponent to focus on the guys who shoot. And we’ve played very good teams here at home. Syracuse, Duke, N.C. State. We’d like to play a whole lot better Wednesday night.”
Jim Larrañaga's basketball team -- already short on talent and bodies this season because of injuries and transfer rules -- will be down another scholarship player.
"At this time James Kelly has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules," Larrañaga announced Tuesday. "James is a fine young man but we need him to have a clear focus on what is expected of a student-athlete at the University of Miami."
A source close to the team told The Miami Herald Tuesday that Kelly (6-7, 246) will be out for three games, meaning he won't return until March 1st at the earlier when the Hurricanes play at N.C. State.
UM (12-13, 3-9 ACC) will play its next two games at home -- Wednesday night versus Notre Dame (14-12, 5-8) and Saturday at noon against Boston College (6-19, 2-10) -- before hitting the road to close out the month of February at Virginia (21-5, 12-1 ACC) on Feb. 26.
Kelly, who hasn't started since Jan. 8 at North Carolina, had nine points and five rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench in UM's loss at Virginia Tech Saturday. He ranks fifth on the team in scoring (7.0 ppg) and rebounding (4.0) and is one of nine scholarship players who see the majority of playing time in UM's rotation.
> UM also announced walk-on guard Steve Sorenson has left the team to focus on academics.
University of Miami Head Football Coach Al Golden:
“I want to sincerely thank our student-athletes and their families who, not only stood with the University of Miami during this unprecedented challenge, but subsequently volunteered for the mission. They shouldered the burden, exhibited class and exemplified perseverance for Hurricanes everywhere.
“Further, I would like to express heartfelt appreciation to our staff and families who did not subscribe to this challenge three years ago, yet courageously adopted it as their own. They have brought the utmost professionalism, resiliency and integrity to our program. More importantly, they continue to recruit and represent our world-class institution with class and dignity in unprecedented circumstance.
“Lastly, it is with gratitude and humility that I say thank you to our administration, U Family everywhere and the entire South Florida Community for their unyielding support of our young men and program over the last 28 months.”
University of Miami Head Basketball Coach Jim Larrañaga:
"I am a big believer that success is based on attitude. We continually remind our players that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
“We will continue to approach our work with a positive attitude as we march towards being the best we can be. I am grateful to our administration and counsel for leading us through this difficult journey and I want to thank everyone who loves this University and who has supported the young men who proudly wear the Miami uniform. We are excited about the upcoming season and we are all moving forward.”
The news is officially out from the NCAA on UM -- and it's better than anticipated. LINK TO COMPLETE REPORT
HERE IS THE LIST OF SANCTIONS FROM THE NCAA ON UM
> Public reprimand and censure.
> Three years of probation from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2016.
> Former assistant football coach B (Clint Hurtt) penalties: A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013 through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details. The committee also adopted penalties imposed by the coach’s current employing university, which are detailed in the public report.
> Former assistant football coach C (Aubrey Hill) penalties: A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.
> Former head men’s basketball coach Frank Haith penalties: A suspension for the first five regular-season games of the 2013-14 season. Attendance at one NCAA Regional Rules seminar at the conclusion of the 2013-14 academic year.
> Former assistant men’s basketball coach B (Jorge Fernandez) penalties: A two-year show-cause order from October 22, 2013, through October 21, 2015. The public report contains further details.
Football program penalties
> Reduction of football scholarship by a combined total of nine during the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
> Miami may only provide a prospect on unofficial visits complementary tickets for one home game during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Self-imposed by the university
> Two year bowl ban following the 2011 and 2012 seasons, including the 2012 ACC Championship game.
> Reduction of official paid visits for 2012-13 by 20 percent to a total of 36 visits.
> Reduction of fall evaluations in 2012-13 by six (from 42 to 36).
> Reduction of available contact days during the 2012-13 contact period by 20 percent.
Men’s basketball program penalties
> Reduction in the number of men’s basketball scholarships by one during the each of the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
> Additional penalties: For all sports, any staff member who sends an impermissible text to a prospect will be fined a minimum of $100 per message, and coaches will be suspended from all recruiting activities for seven days.
> Further penalties resulting from impermissible texts and phone calls are detailed in the public report.
Hurricanes basketball coach Jim Larranaga, fresh off lead the program to its first ACC regular season and postseason titles, has received a three-year extension from the University of Miami -- stretching his stay in South Florida through the 2022 season.
The Associated Press first reported the news and a University of Miami spokesman confirmed it.
Larranaga, 63, will be a few months shy of his 73rd birthday when the contract expires.
“Since Jim and Liz's arrival at the University of Miami in 2011, they have had a tremendous impact not only on our basketball program and our student-athletes, but also on the South Florida community,” athletic director Blake James said in a statement released by the school. “The phenomenal on-court success of the team last season is just the start of something great. We are thrilled that Jim and Liz will be a fixture at UM for many years to come.”
Larranaga, 49-20 in two seasons at Miami, led the Hurricanes to 29 wins last season, a trip to the Sweet 16 and was The Associated Press' coach of the year. The Hurricanes were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country in the AP poll.
“The University of Miami is an elite academic institution, in a great geographical location, competing in the best basketball league in the country,” Larrañaga said in a statement released by the school. “It has always been my goal to compete at the very highest level, so I am fortunate, and humbled, that I will be able to pursue this opportunity for the remainder of my career.”
Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel got a half's worth of a suspension handed down to him Wednesday, an agreement Texas A&M and the NCAA reached because the star quarterback violated NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52 by signing autographs.
Manziel will sit out the first half of the Aggies' opener against Rice Saturday, a mere slap on the wrist even though Manziel is accused of actually selling his signature to memorabilia dealers.
Not everyone seemed happy for Manziel -- including former Hurricanes basketball star Dequan Jones.
Jones was forced to sit out 11 games his senior year as part of the Nevin Shapiro booster investigation. Shapiro claimed that former UM assistant Jake Morton asked Shapiro for $10,000 to secure Jones, then a recruit. Jones was allowed to return to action after the NCAA couldn’t find evidence against him.
Jones, now in his second year with the Orlando Magic, took to Twitter to express his thoughts on how how quickly the Manziel mess was worked out.
Hey @ncaa , y'all are a joke. I'm Dequan Jones and I approved this message.— Dequan Jones (@Dequan20Jones) August 28, 2013
My ruling wasn't expedited.— Dequan Jones (@Dequan20Jones) August 28, 2013
Wrong sport and the wrong conference I guess.— Dequan Jones (@Dequan20Jones) August 28, 2013
Compromise the integrity of amateurism in collegiate athletics for the sake of revenue. Sounds like the @ncaa I know.— Dequan Jones (@Dequan20Jones) August 28, 2013
The Miami Hurricanes' summer recruiting run continued Friday when the program picked up its 19th pledge for the Class of 2014 in little known Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end Demetrius Jackson.
The 6-5, 230-pound senior played varsity football for the first time this spring and was known more for what he did on the basketball court, earning All-Dade Second Team honors this past season.
"People may not know much about him right now, but they will," Tornadoes offensive coordinator Tim "Ice" Harris Jr. said. "He's a freak talent who played plenty of football growing up. He just turned his focus to basketball in high school. But he knows his best way to a scholarship is football. A lot of schools who saw him this spring were impressed."
Jackson had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery as well as a few batted balls at the line of scrimmage in the spring game for the defending Class 4A state champions. He has offers from Arkansas and FIU and had committed to the Razorbacks last week, but the school didn't accept his oral commitment because he hadn't visited the campus yet.
"He's going to be like a rush end/outside linebacker in 3-4 look," Harris Jr. said. "He can rush the quarterback. You look at him at [four-star recruit] Chad Thomas they compliment each other well. Demetrius probably has him in speed, movements. That's going to work out well."
Harris Jr. said Jackson is already a full college qualifier and has a 3.0 GPA and scored 21 on the ACT. Harris Jr. said Jackson is the cousin of former Booker T. defensive ends Joseph Jackson (South Florida) and Jonathan Jackson (FIU).
GILBERT COULD BE HEADED TO UM
Although it's not a 100 percent done deal according to sources at UM, reports are UM will also be adding former Wisconsin senior defensive end David Gilbert to its roster, just a couple months after the former Oakland Park Northeast High standout said he was ending his career with the Badgers due to foot injuries.
BadgerBlitz.com was the first to report the news Thursday night. Gilbert reportedly graduated in May would be eligible to play for the Hurricanes as a post-graduate.
Gilbert started 13 games last season, rolling up 42 tackles, 9.5 for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles and earned honorable mention on the All-Big Ten Team.
Gilbert broke his right foot twice in 2011 and missed spring practice this past April to undergo more surgery on the same foot, repairing ligament damage this time.
As a senior at Northeast, Gilbert was an All-State First Team selection, racking up 57 tackles, nine sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2007.
> Canesport.com reported Friday that 2013 signee Ryheem Lockley is headed to Fork Union Military Academy, but says he will remain committed to UM and expects to arrive in Coral Gables in the spring. UM's sports information staff told The Miami Herald the only Summer II session arrivals were the five players reported earlier this week.
> Former Canes forward Kenny Kadji and guard Durand Scott signed as undrafted free agents with the Cavs and Spurs, respectively.
The surge continues.
The Miami Hurricanes -- who had never been ranked higher than eighth in the program's history -- hit a new peak Monday afternoon, climbing to No. 3 in the latest Associated Press college basketball rankings.
UM, which didn't crack the Top 25 until four weeks ago, received 17 first place votes and now sits behind No. 1 Indiana and No. 2 Duke. In the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll Miami ranks fourth behind No. 1 Duke, No. Indiana and No. Gonzaga.
The Hurricanes have won 11 straight games and are 10-0 in the ACC with 25-point blowout wins over North Carolina and Duke.
Can it get any better than this? Maybe. Some experts believe Miami is good enough to win a national title.
UM (19-3) plays at Florida State Wednesday night at 7 p.m. (ESPN2) and at Clemson at 6 p.m. Sunday (ESPNU).
Jim Larranaga and the red-hot Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team has moved up 11 spots this week in the Associated Press poll to number 14 -- one of the biggest jumps in recent memory following blowout wins over No. 1-ranked Duke and rival Florida State. UM is also ranked 15th in the Coaches Poll.
It's the highest the program has been ranked since Feb. 2002. According to AP writer Tim Reynolds only four teams have gone up more spots in the rankings in one week since 1989.
The Canes (15-3, 6-0 ACC) hadn't cracked the AP poll until last week and were only receiving votes in the coaches poll before their big victories this past week. It's the first time the Hurricanes have been ranked in the Coaches poll since Dec 8, 2008 when they spent a single week at number 25.
What's the highest UM's men's basketball team has ever been ranked? Eighth in the AP poll (March 1, 1960). They finished 10th.
Since the program was brought back, the highest the team was ranked was ninth -- back on March 1st, 1999. The Hurricanes didn't finish the season ranked in the AP poll.
The Canes travel to Virginia Tech on Wednesday and play at 19th-ranked N.C. State on Saturday. The Wolfpack (16-4) and Blue Devils (17-2) are the only other teams from the ACC ranked in the AP poll.
DURAND SCOTT HONORED
Guard Durand Scott was named the ACC's Player of the Week for the second time this season Monday.
Scott averaged 18.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in UM's two home wins last week.
In Wednesday’s 90-63 win against the Blue Devils, Scott had 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 36 minutes. He was 9-of-14 (.643) from the field, 3-of-4 from three-point range and 4-of-5 on free throws. In Sunday’s win against the Seminoles, Scott had 11 points, four assists and two turnovers as UM rolled to a 71-47 victory.
Didn't get a chance to pass this along earlier because I was working the phones, but Canes running back Mike James has been invited as a late addition for Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
James, replacing injured Clemson running back Andre Ellington on the South roster, will be the 63rd Miami Hurricane to play in the Senior Bowl and the first Canes running back since Cleveland Gary in 1989.
It will be James' second postseason college bowl invite; the Haines City, Fla., native rushed for 21 yards in the 2013 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl held on Jan. 19 in Carson, Calif.
James started all 12 games at running back for the Hurricanes in 2012, finishing as the team’s second-leading rusher with 642 yards and six touchdowns. He piled up 1,386 rushing yards and 17 TDs, while catching 67 passes for 585 yards and five touchdowns in his career. He was one of 11 FBS players named to the 2012 AFCA Allstate Good Works Team in September.
Kickoff Saturday is set for 4 p.m. The game will be televised on the NFL Network.
> Be sure to follow our Michelle Kaufman for all updates on tonight's big Canes-Duke basketball game. Canesport.com reported earlier today that several big time recruits will be attending the game, set for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Among those expected in the crowd: Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, South Plantation running back Alex Collins, Oakland Park Northeast receiver Stacy Coley, Northwestern safety Artie Burns, Southridge safety Jamal Carter and Ely cornerback Rashard Robinson. Yes, there will also be tributes and moments of silence during the game for legendary baseball coach Ron Fraser.
> Miramar linebacker Jermaine Grace, who was originally set to make his college announcement on Tuesday, will now make it sometime next week according to his coach Damon Cogdell. Louisville, whom Grace visited last weekend, is taking advantage of the extra time with an in-home visit this week. Cogdell said the delay is due to the fact he's working with producers to get Grace's announcement made on television.
With reports surfacing that former basketball coach Frank Haith and football recruiting coordinators Clint Hurtt and Aubrey Hill are expected to be charged with unethical conduct in the NCAA's investigation into wrongdoing done at the University of Miami, I sought the expertise of NCAA Bylaw Blog writer John Infante Tuesday morning to digest what we are hearing and how it might affect the program.
Infante, a former compliance officer at NCAA Division I schools, has been running the Bylaw Blog for over two years and his expertise has been featured on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and numerous other media outlets. Keep in mind he isn't privy to the information the NCAA has on Miami. He simply is giving his opinion based on what he's read from published reports.
Here is the transcript of my 15 minute one-on-one Q&A with him:
Q: There were reports Monday that about four former basketball coaches and at least two former assistant football coaches will be cited for violating bylaw 10.1 "unethical conduct" in the NCAA's investigation. How does that affect Miami positively or negatively?
"Well, it sounds like nearly all the assistants are being charged with unethical conduct and it also sounds like Frank Haith is going to be charged with failing to create an atmosphere of compliance, which generally only head coaches are charged with. It can be helpful [for Miami]. The biggest thing is when you have that many coaches [charged with unethical conduct] and go in front of the Committee on Infractions there's going to be a lot of people in the room to spread blame around. When you talk about the presentations and the answers given in front of the COI, I think generally the feeling is amongst a lot of people who have gone through that process is that coaches tend not to perform as well as the institution does. In the end for Miami, it all kind of depends what kind of charges the school is facing. We kind of expect in addition to the specific violations the NCAA feels it has evidence of it's pretty much a guarantee there is going to be a failure to monitor charge. I would also be surprised if there is not a lack of institutional control charge as well. If Miami's cooperation is considered better and the coaches don't perform well in the hearing that could lead to the COI sort of finding that in spite of institutional failings by Miami this was more the coaches fault and bring the penalties down on the coaches more than on the institution -- especially considering the two post-season bans the [football program] has already imposed."
Q: How much does Miami taking a two-year ban help its case with football?
"You're probably looking at no more than [two years]. Three years of post-season ban is pretty rare -- given the USC case, which is some of the harshest sanctions. Being already two years, I'm not sure you add a third one to a school that has self-imposed two. In terms of scholarships or recruiting restrictions, I don't know if it will have as big of an impact there. I kind of feel like they took care of that post-season penalty. The COI will impose other penalties they see fit and not go into any further post-season bans. If they did that's something Miami would probably appeal."
Q: We've heard UM has done a good job cooperating with the NCAA. How much does that help?
"I forget where I saw it reported but I have seen more than just cooperation, but exceptional cooperation. One of the things fans see is that schools get rewarded for cooperating, but there is a level of cooperation you have to do to meet your obligation and then there's a level you get extra credit for. [Cooperation is] making sure you get to interview everybody you want. Going and suggesting you should interview this guy as well because he may have information too -- that's when you see something like exceptional cooperation. It could be that [the NCAA is] giving [Miami] a little bit of praise publicly just because it wants to. But it could also mean [Miami is] reaching a certain level of cooperation that has significance in the NCAA investigation where they might get a break on a penalty as a result."
Q: Would exceptional cooperation be telling former athletes that if they didn't cooperate they wouldn't be allowed back on the sidelines? We've heard that and our Barry Jackson reported that last week.
"If they were able to get people who normally wouldn't have replied to the NCAA or allowed themselves to be interviewed by the NCAA and Miami helped make that happen -- especially athletes UM has no jurisdiction over -- that's going above and beyond what the NCAA asks on the case. That may lead to a lessening of penalties. But there is already a high bar for cooperation. You have to go above and beyond that to get any sort of relief from penalties in front of the COI. Having the coaches there especially if Miami is going along with it and agreeing to the findings of the NOA and the coaches aren't the ones fighting, in the end you are dealing with people who are making a judgement call. Being the one that's not fighting and the ones who want to raise a fuss about stuff makes the school look better in comparison."
Q: Former coach Randy Shannon has not linked to any of this. In fact, we've heard stories and its been reported he was telling his players and coaches to stay away from Nevin Shapiro. Does that help Miami's football program in this case considering it appears Haith was involved with Shapiro.
"It certainly does. We've seen Shannon not being named in any of the violations and him not facing any unethical conduct or failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance charges. Because he is the head coach, he is supposed to be the one as the direct link to the administration and what they do in terms of monitoring and applying compliance. If he did that well, that helps show there was a chain of command of monitoring and promoting institutional control and thus the blame falls on the assistant coaches. If that's the case then, we may see kind of a smaller failure to monitor or lack of institutional control that could end up more centered on the basketball violations where it looks like the head coach was involved in some manner. While charges like failure to monitor are institution violations it can get to be more specific than that. It can focus on what sport led to that charge."
Q: Will UM's history play a factor? The school was still under probation for baseball violations through the 2005-2006 academic year.
"It will. It certainly will be brought up by the COI. But I think it's more important if [Miami] is considered a repeat violator in this case. I believe a lot of that depends on how far back the NCAA is able to prove the violations. I believe they had a case [in baseball] in the mid 2000s. If they did in that case -- as Yahoo! reported -- they would definitely be under a repeat violator status. The thing is we haven't seen with that repeat violator status -- outside of the USC case -- that there have been significantly harsher penalties as a result. UCF is one example. UCF was under repeat violator status -- kind of a similar violation as Miami in terms of a booster or third party who is providing benefits on a smaller scale. But again we sort of saw them impose sort of a standard penalty the COI has been imposing, losing scholarships, a one-year post-season ban, recruiting restrictions, going after the individuals and sort of move on. I think the Miami case is probably a little too big for that. But again, I do kind of think in some ways the COI is going through the motions until the new enforcement program starts up in August. There is a little bit of a sense of the current process having a lame duck quality to it. That play in Miami's favor as well."
Q: How is the NCAA's new process different and how does the fact Miami doesn't fall under the new rules help?
"The new rules are going to be harsher, it's going to be a different kind of process and involve different people. We just saw there are eight new people appointed. So, I think because of this reset almost, the NCAA sees there are flaws in this process and as of Aug. 1, 2013 were going to fix it. While the current cases are taken seriously, the fact the same penalties have been applied in the last two or three cases sort of suggests they're not going with the same fire and brimstone as they did with USC. That helps Miami."
CORAL GABLES -- If you based team MVP awards simply on points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and three-pointers you could make an argument for a handful of different players on what numbers-wise is a very balanced Hurricanes men's basketball team.
Malcolm Grant has an argument because he's hit a number of big shots, averages 12.7 points a game and leads the team in three-pointers made with 44.
Florida transfer Kenny Kadji has played lights out in the post, averaging 12.6 points and 5.8 rebounds while leading the team with 35 blocked shots.
Even freshman point guard Shane Larkin deserves some consideration. His 37 steals lead the ACC and he's provided a big boost since being inserted into the starting lineup four games ago.
But if you throw out stats and look at overall impact, there is no question who the best basketball player at the University of Miami is. It's Reggie Johnson.
The 6-10, 293-pound center starred in Sunday's overtime win at then No. 7-ranked Duke. But his career-high 27 points and 12 rebounds in the Canes' first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium isn't the only reason he deserves it (I'd give it to him for just flexing in the face of those Cameron Crazies after they taunted him by shouting 'Please Don't Eat Us'). It's UM's 9-3 record since his return that outweighs the 11.8 points and seven rebounds a game he's averaged since sitting out five months to heal from a torn meniscus in his right knee. That, and how good he's made his teammates since his return.
"Don't do anything for five months at anything you could possibly do, and you're going to be rusty," UM coach Jim Larranaga said. "Reggie came back and had an immediate had an impact. In Reggie's case, he not only plays well, but impacts the whole game and his teammates. If you look at Kenny Kadji's numbers, Kenny was averaging seven points a game before Reggie became available. He's been averaging about 17 points per game since Reggie has been back. Durand Scott was shooting in the low 30s when Reggie was not available. He's shooting 50 percent and above playing with Reggie."
Although Johnson said Wednesday he feels like he's close to getting back to 100 percent, Larranaga pointed out Johnson can only curl about 30 pounds with surgically repaired right knee (he curls 75 pounds with his left knee) and that Johnson's flexibility is "less than half" than the healthy leg.
"Until he has full strength and flexibility he will not be at 100 percent," Larranaga said. "That's not going to happen this season. It's going to take the spring and even the summer. When you sit out five months, it's been my experience it takes five months to recover from that."
Still, Larranaga said Johnson has noticeably improved his conditioning (even though he's only dropped from 295 to 293 since returning from injury). Larranaga said Johnson is also getting a stronger grasp of the offensive and defensive concepts he's employed.
"We were a zone team primarily last year. Now we're primarily a man to man. That puts a tremendous burden on him," Larranaga said. "A lot of teams ball screen and he has to get out there to get on ball screens. When you're in a 2-3 zone, you basically play in the middle and don't move around much.
"Anybody notice who switched out on [Duke's] Austin Rivers for the second to last shot of the game [Sunday]? Reggie Johnson. They ball screened. We were planning to switch. Reggie was there. Ryan Kelly got the rebound and Reggie was there on the perimeter. So, when you play in a zone, you're not asked to do those type of things. It's been a challenge for Reggie and he keeps getting better and better at it."
Despite the win at Duke, the Canes, who've won four consecutive game and five of their past six, are still hardly a lock to get into the NCAA Tournament. Even with an RPI ranking of 38, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi didn't include them this week in his projected field of 68. Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com had them as a 13th seed.
"I'm not surprised at all," Johnson said Wednesday. "I go into every game thinking were not in the tournament. We have to play one game at a time to get there. Don't get into your mind we're in the tournament because we beat Duke. That's false. One year, Virginia Tech beat Duke. Dick Vitale said they were in and that meant absolutely nothing. Virginia Tech went to the NIT like we did."
> Speaking of the Hokies (13-10, 2-6 ACC), they're next. Thursday night they'll visit BankUnited Center for a 9 p.m. tip, televised on ESPN2. With eight games left to play in the ACC, UM (14-7, 5-3) could conceivably finish 9-7 in conference play and still not make the tournament. So taking care of business against teams they should beat is top priority. And for Johnson there won't be any less motivation playing the Hokies, who are 2-7 since January 1.
"We don't like Virginia Tech, they don't like us. In the game, there's a lot of trash talking going back and forth," Johnson said. "They're the other school that recruited me in the ACC. They took [Victor] Davila over me, they're starting center. Every time I play them that plays in my head.
"They're 2-6. But I watched them when they played North Carolina and they can shoot the ball, they can drive. It was a close game going into the second half. They're record doesn't speak to what kind of team they really are."
> Despite what most people may call a breakthrough performance for Johnson at Duke, the big fella still believes his first game back Dec. 17 against FAU remains his best performance. "It was the most fun game for me. I was getting everybody else involved. I had a career high five assists. That's big for me. As a big man, I love assists."
> Johnson said he and several teammates have remained contact with former coach Frank Haith, now at Missouri through text messages.
"I texted him and told him good win against Kansas the other night," Johnson said. "I definitely keep up with Coach Haith. He's my guy. He gave me a chance to play in the ACC. I'm happy for him. They're No. 4 in the nation. At one point, they were No. 2 in the nation. I'm proud of him. I just want to see him succeed.
"His wife texted us after the Duke win. She said 'Good win and keep it going.'"
> NBADraft.net currently projects Johnson as the 42nd pick (2nd round) to Houston. But his stock could be on the rise following the performance against Duke, especially when you consider he looked better than Mason Plumlee, currently tabbed to go 24th overall to the Celtics.
"The Plumlees are probably highest on the NBA radar in the ACC when it comes to big guys," Johnson said. "Those guys jump, dunk, sky hook, whatever. It was real fun playing against those guys. Duke just guarded me a certain way and I took advantage of it."
CORAL GABLES -- We interrupt your Hurricanes football frenzy for news on the baseball and basketball teams. First hoops.
The son of former Cincinnati Reds All-Star shortstop Barry Larkin left the Chicago-based school in July for an undisclosed medical reason.
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound point guard from Orlando Dr. Phillips High was the Class 6A Player of the Year runner-up to Austin Rivers as a senior after leading his team to a 27-6 record and the state championship while averaging 18.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.5 steals per game.
Larkin will be allowed to practice with the team this season.
BASEBALL: Now to the diamond where UM announced it's signing class Friday. According to UM's sports information staff the Canes could announce two more signings in the coming days...
HERE'S WHO IS ALREADY IN:
Chris Diaz, SP, L/L, 6-0, 200, Gulliver Prep
- Went 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 66 strikeouts as a senior to earn All-Dade First Team honors by The Miami Herald.
Alexander Fernandez, 2B, R/R, 5-9, 180, Archbishop McCarthy
- Son of former UM pitcher and Marlin Alex Fernandez. Drafted in the 46th round by the Tigers in 2011 Draft. Hit .513 with 34 RBI and went 10-0 with 50 Ks a senior, leading his team to back-to-back state championships. Named First Team All-Broward Class 4A-1A by The Miami Herald.
Sean Hurley, 3B, R/R, 6-2, 210, Sarasota High
- Hit .371 with six homers and 23 RBI as a senior.
Garrett Kennedy, C, S/R, 6-1, 185, Archbishop McCarthy
- Named Honorable Mention Class 4A-1A for The Miami Herald.
Vince Kossak, RP, R/R, 6-2, 175, Palm Beach State College
- Went 4-0 with a 4.96 ERA as a sophomore, 32 Ks, 28 BBs.
Patrick Kulick, RP, L/L, 6-1, 205, Parkland Douglas
- According to InsideTheU.com, Georgetown, Florida, Florida State, Wake Forest, and Duke were among the schools recruiting Kulick before he picked the Hurricanes. This past season was frustrating for Kulick, who suffered a minor right knee injury, which prevented him from only playing in 12 games. He hit .500 with two home runs and only pitched three innings and did not allow a run. He hit .421 with 5 homers and 26 steals as a junior.
Jake Lane, OF, R/R 6-0, 185, Tavernier Coral Shores
- Selected in the 45th round by Arizona in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Lane was The Key West Citizen's 2011 Monroe County Baseball Player of the Year after he hit .493 batting average with seven home runs and 28 RBI. Had a 4.56 GPA, was Senior Class President and Homecoming King.
Jarred Mederos, SS, R/R, 5-11, 175, Hialeah Mater Academy
- Third Team All-Dade Class 4A-1A as a senior.
Eric Nedeljkovic, RP, R/R, 6-1, 185, Sierra College (Rocklin, Calif.)
- Went 1-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 7 saves in 19 games at Sierra College.
Ryan Otero, RP, R/R 6-3, 200, Miami Ransom Everglades
- Hit .394 with two homers and 14 RBI as a senior according to MaxPreps.
Tyler Palmer, SS, R/R, 5-11, 190, University of Florida
- He hit .610 with 37 RBI, 24 stolen bases and six homers as a senior at the University School. Palmer hit .286 in nine games, making four starts, in 2011 for the Gators. He's eligible to play immediately at UM in 2012.
Alex San Juan, C, R/R, 5-11, 205, Miami-Dade College
- Hit .310 with two homers and 19 RBI in 34 games with the Sharks as a college sophomore. Formerly of Miami Columbus.
Andy Suarez, SP, L/L, 6-2, 190, Miami Columbus
- Went 4-3 with a 1.65 ERA, 58 strikeouts as a senior at Columbus. He was 5-1 with 83 strikeouts and a 1.65 ERA as a junior when he was named Class 6A Pitcher of The Year. Selected in the ninth round, 289th overall by Toronto in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Esteban Tresgallo, C, 6-2, 200, R/R, Colegio Marista, Puerto Rico
- Selected by the Mariners in the 50th round of the 2011 draft.
> UM had four other players who were originally part of their 2011 signing class who ended up elsewhere. Third baseman Cory Spangenberg (Indian River State College) was taken 10th overall by the Padres in the 2011 draft and signed with them; Huntington Beach, Calif. left-hander Henry Owens was drafted 36th overall and signed with the Red Sox; Wekiva High (Orlando area) right-hander Jace Herrera is no longer going to sign with UM; and Deltona High shortstop Jack Lopez signed after being drafted in the 16th round by the Royals.
The University of Miami released it's men's basketball schedule Wednesday and it is highlighted by eight games against teams that advanced to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
In addition to playing 16 games in the Atlantic Coast Conference, UM will take on Rutgers at home (Nov. 15), Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss. (Nov. 15), Purdue away (Nov. 29, ESPN2), UMass (home, Dec. 3, ESPNU), Memphis (home, Dec.6, ESPN2) and West Virginia (away, Dec. 10, ESPN2) in its non-conference slate. A program record 20 games will be televised this season, including all 16 of Miami's ACC contests.
UM opens the season at home against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 11.
"The ACC provides the nation's most exciting brand of basketball," coach Jim Larranaga said in a statement released by the school. "This is why I came to Miami and I am looking forward to the challenge that it provides our program. I can't wait to start the season."
For the 17th time in 18 seasons, the Hurricanes will be playing in the Orange Bowl Classic. Miami will head to Sunrise to take on FAU on Dec. 17. The Canes faced the Owls in the first round of the NIT in March, advancing to the second round with an 85-62 victory.
UM's ACC slate begins with road games at Virginia (Jan. 7 - ESPNU) and North Carolina (Jan. 10 - Raycom/ESPN3.com). After an eight-day break, the Canes return to the BankUnited Center to take on Clemson (Jan. 18 - RSN/ESPN3.com) and NC State (Jan. 22 - Raycom/ESPN3.com). UM will then travel to Georgia Tech (Jan. 24 - ESPNU) and Boston College (Jan. 29 - Raycom/ESPN.com) before opening the month of February at home against Maryland and new head coach Mark Turgeon on Feb. 1 (Raycom/ESPN3.com).
Duke, last season's ACC Tournament Champions, will welcome the Hurricanes to Cameron Indoor Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday at 3 p.m. The game will be the first of two ACC Sunday Night Basketball features for the Canes and will be aired on ESPNU.
Virginia Tech - 2011 NIT participants - will be paying a visit to the BankUnited Center on Feb. 9 (ESPN or ESPN2/ESPN3.com) at 9 p.m. Miami then has its quickest turnaround of the season when it heads to Tallahassee, for a 1 p.m. contest on Feb. 11 (Raycom/ESPN.com).
The Tar Heels make a return trip to face the Canes on Feb. 15 (ESPN or ESPN2/ESPN3.com). UM remains at home for a visit from Wake Forest on Feb. 18 (RSN).
Two of the Hurricanes final three games will be on the road, including trips to Maryland (Feb. 21 - Raycom/ESPN3.com) and NC State (March 3 - RSN/ESPN3.com). UM's final home game will be its second ACC Sunday Night Basketball contest when it welcomes Florida State on Feb. 26 (ESPNU).
Tickets are available through the Hurricane Ticket Office at 1-800-GO-CANES or visit us online at hurricanesports.com.
Jim Larranaga's thinning front court just took another big hit.
Senior Julian Gamble, a 6-9 senior forward who was expected to help fill-in for Reggie Johnson while he sits out until Janurary, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg according to UM. Gamble will miss the entire season.
"We feel awful for Julian Gamble," Larranaga said in a statement released by the school. "Tearing your ACL is a devastating injury at any time in your career, but particularly in your fifth year of eligibility. Julian is a bright, hard working and competitive athlete. We will do everything we can to support him in his efforts to rehabilitate this injury. We know he will also be there supporting his teammates, becuase that is just the kind of person he is."
Gamble started 13 games last season and averaged 3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per game.
:We are never given more than we can handle, so I never ask "Why me?" just "Why not?" because i will come out on top!," Gamble posted on his Twitter account Tuesday.
The Canes now have two post players injured as the college hoop season quickly approaches. UM will have to rely heavily on redshirt-sophomore center Kenny Kadji, who will be eligible to play this season after transferring from the University of Florida.
Johnson, the team-leader in rebounds and third-leading scorer, underwent surgery on June 30 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Johnson was expected to be sidelined for 5-6 months from the date of the surgery. Larranaga has said he's hopeful Johnson will be back by January.
With football camp set to start on Aug. 6, the Miami Hurricanes will take to the airwaves Friday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. on 560 WQAM.
Among the guests from UM lined up: football coach Al Golden, men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga, offensive line coach Art Kehoe, women’s hoops coach Katie Meier and athletes Olivier Vernon, Sean Spence, LaRon Byrd, Marcus Forston, Vaughn Telemaque, Mike James, Tyler Horn, Harland Gunn, Malcolm Grant and Julian Gamble.
With the football team off limits to the media -- outside of the flagship station obviously -- this might be the only time you get to hear them talk for the next few weeks. So listen in.
>The Maxwell Football Club named Spence and junior defensive back Ray Ray Armstrong to the 2011 Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List on Tuesday, given annually to the best defensive player in college football. Dan Morgan is the only UM player that has won the Bednarik Award, winning it in 2000, along with the Nagurski Trophy & Butkus Award.
> Travis Benjamin was one of 75 receivers named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award Wednesday. The award is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding college football receiver by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation.
> University of Miami left-hand pitcher Bryan Radziewski was named to the Baseball America Freshman All-America Second Team on Tuesday. Radziewski finished the 2011 season with a team-leading nine wins, amassing a 9-2 record with a team third-lowest 3.35 earned run average.
Miami Hurricanes center Reggie Johnson will be sidelined for five to six months after having surgery Thursday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
UM is hopeful Johnson, who injured the knee during a pick-up game with teammates on Monday, will be able to return in time for the start of Atlantic Coast Conference play in January.
"Reggie has some time to work on rehabbing the knee and trying to get back for at least a portion of the season. It is a devastating blow because of the real optimism we had when Reggie elected to pull his name out of the draft. Now, we have to rethink our plans for the upcoming season. We have to try and figure out who will fill that very big void."
The 6-10, 305-pound junior from Winston-Salem, N.C. started 34 games last season for UM and earned All-ACC honorable mention honors after averaging 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. He tested the waters of the NBA Draft last spring and elected to return.
Guard Trey McKinney-Jones, who was there when Johnson injured his knee on Monday, said initially no one at UM thought Johnson’s injury was very serious.
“No one touched him really,” said McKinney-Jones, a junior transfer who will be eligible this season after transferring in from the University of Missour-Kansas City. “He just came down wrong and kind of limped off the court. He wasn’t rolling on the ground, screaming. We thought it was just something small.”
But an MRI on Tuesday reveraled a tear. Doctors informed Johnson it would be better to repair the meniscus for his long-term future instead of letting it heal on its own. And that’s what he opted for.
“Honestly, he’s a huge part of this team,” McKinney-Jones said. “He was dominating on the court with us, looked real good. It’s going to hurt not having him, but we’re such a deep team. With the new coaching staff, they’ll get us ready to make the adjustments without Reggie. I think the sky is still the limit for us.”
As a sophomore, Johnson was Miami’s leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, converting 59.1 percent of his field goals (the third-highest single-season percentage in UM history). He also averaged a team-high 1.3 blocks per game. He finished the season ranked second in the ACC in offensive rebounds (3.5), fourth in both defensive rebounds (6.1) and overall rebounds and 20th in scoring.
Larranaga said UM will look to 6-11 redshirt sophomore Kenny Kadji (a Florida transfer), 6-10 senior Julian Gamble and 6-10 sophomore Raphael Akpejiori to fill the sizable void left by Johnson during his rehab.
"I don't know that much about Kenny's game," Larranaga said. "There's no video of him playing with Miami. I only got to see him during our brief individual workouts.
"Julian Gamble is working very, very hard rehabbing his injury. He's been playing daily. But he didn't do any individual stuff in the spring."
The Hurricanes, projected by some to be a Top 25 team, lost just one player (three-point specialist Adrian Thomas) from a 21-15 team reached the NIT quarterfinals.
Larranaga said Johnson has stayed positive since the injury.
"He was in good spirits before the surgery and he came out of it in good spirits," Larranaga said. "It was just a pick up game. He twisted it. Bad luck."
> Larranaga said he's had a chance to work on his team's schedule for the upcoming season, but still hasn't finalized it.
"I'm pretty pleased with what we've been able to do," he said. "We open up the season in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge versus Purdue. Then Memphis is coming to our place. Rutgers is coming to our place, Ole Miss. It's part of the home and home deal from last year.
"We have very, very good top 50 teams on our schedule. As I told our team, the goal of scheduling is not just to play great teams, but play a schedule that will allow you to compete for an at-large bid [in the NCAA Tournament]. It's about developing a good RPI ranking in the non-conference. That will determine if you are even in a position to earn an at-large bid."
Larranaga said he and his assistants will be spread out throughout the country over the next month recruiting. He said he's already met "a ton of local high school coaches" during a team camp and coaches clinic at Miramar High last month and emails them everyday.
"We have a lot of catching up to do with the kids who are going to be seniors because we haven't been here to recruit those guys," Larranaga said.
"Many schools in our league and the SEC have been involved with these young men for a year or two. What we need to do is develop relationship with 10 graders who will be juniors. That will be the first recruiting class we'll be able to develop a relationship with for a year and that's what we we have to do this July in order to make this a successful recruiting class."
Sammy Hernandez can't remember everything he and his George Mason teammates did before the 2006 season to prepare for Jim Larranaga's scramble defense and a run to the Final Four.
He just remembers it being extremely demanding -- and well worth it in the end.
"It was constant training," said Hernandez, now a director for a local YMCA in Miami. "Weightlifting, running at 5 a.m. and a lot of time pedaling on those stationary bikes. It was pretty tiring, the hardest I've ever worked in my life. But it was good. By the time the season came around, a guy like Jai Lewis, who was 6-8, 290, was running up and down the court like nothing. We got in shape and we got it done."
Jim Krupos, hired in May to be the Canes' new strength and conditioning coach for basketball, will be the man in charge of getting Larranaga's newest group ready for his physically demanding defense before the team starts practicing in October. He said today would be the first time he works with the entire team.
Aside from a lot of "intense running" and "circuit conditioning," the 34-year old former strength and conditioning coach at Arizona, Cal State-Fullerton and UNC-Charlotte (where he spent two years working with UM women's coach Katie Meier) said Larranaga wants the focus of his next six-week program to be on building upper body strength and confidence.
"One thing we're real big on is upper body strength numbers, bench press numbers," Krumpos said. "We're adding a white board to the weight room where all the lifting numbers of each player will be on display. We want improvement, so we're also going to list what guys in the NBA combine did.
"You might think 'Can the bench press have a huge carry over to basketball?' If guys know they can lift 30 to 40 pounds more on the bench after six weeks, they'll be a lot more confident on the court. And when they know they're stronger than your opponent, it gives them a mental edge."
Krumpos said he's already tested most of his roster in flexibility, strength and mobility over the last few weeks (the only player he hasn't seen yet is incoming freshman Bishop Daniels) and has established personalized programs for each. But for the next weeks, the team will work together five days a week, lifting weights four days a week and extra conditioning three days a week after weights.
"This is a little more intense than what I was doing at Arizona," Krumpos said. "Coach [Lute] Olsen had his style for many years. Coach Larranaga has his. What we're trying to establish here is not only a new style of play, but a new way of working, a new mindset and approach. The players so far have been real receptive. A lot of them are eager to get back in it. I see a lot of leadership from a fairly hungry team."
Krumpos said junior center Reggie Johnson, who battled weight issues in the past and tested the NBA waters before returning to UM, has displayed a good attitude thus far.
"You never know with a guy that big what you're going to get until he goes in the weight room," Krumpos said. "Reggie has been training hard. He's one of the guys I put in the category to have a really good year. His body fat is really what we want to cut down. What we care about is how he's moving up and down the court. He's just a thick guy. We've been working a lot on diet, trying to educate him on not eating a bowl of pasta at midnight. I'd like to have him under 300 [pounds], somewhere where he isn't losing strength and power and he's able to get up and down the court. I'd say around 275 to 290.
"Coach Larranaga has had some big boys at George Mason. As long as they're rebounding good, getting up and down the court and getting back on defense, he'll be happy."
One big guy coming off injury is senior Julian Gamble, who had minor surgery on his ankle after the season. Krumpos said Gamble (6-9, 258) will be 100 percent for the start of the season.
"Julian is changing his body very dramatically," Krumpos said. "He's already made some nice changes. He's leaned out and gained some muscle."
Krumpos said the guy he's been most impressed with is forward Erik Swoope (6-6, 230).
"Genetically he's very gifted," Krumpos said. "He's not only as strong as he looks. He's able to handle anything you throw at him. He has more potential in his little finger than I do in my whole body."
Other summer workout standouts: "DeQuan Jones is very fast off the ground, which is what we care about more than a vertical," Krumpos said. "Tre McKinney-Jones has a lot of nice potential as well."
LARRANAGA FINDS A HOME: Coach Jim Larranaga told ESPN 950 AM radio in Washington, D.C. Tuesday he finally was able to find a place to live in South Florida last Friday.
Now, his goal will be to find some 2012 recruits during the July evaluation period. UM has three seniors on its current roster and two potential early NBA entrants in Johnson and Durand Scott.
"We're a little bit behind the traditional programs in the ACC trying to get commitments from juniors," Larranaga told the radio station. "We're not in that position yet where we can start working on 2013. We're looking to get commitments in September, then go after the junior class and get way out in front with the recruiting situation with the top prospects."
According to Canesport.com, UM could find out soon if 2012 point guard Kareem Canty, rated 15th best at his position according to Rivals, is headed to Miami or Xavier. Canty, who plays at North Bridgton Academy in Maine, was originally recruited by Frank Haith. Larranaga has stayed on him. Canty is friends with UM guard Durand Scott and is originally from the Harlem area in New York.
Larannaga has said he'd like to focus UM's recruiting efforts in the state of Florida. He told ESPN 950 he believes he can stock his team with players that live within two to three hours of campus.
Reggie Johnson is coming back.
The 6-10, 300-pound sophomore center tested the waters of the NBA Draft without hiring an agent, and participated in a combine Saturday at the Nets’ practice facility in East Rutherford, N.J., in front of scouts, coaches and personnel from approximately 27 NBA teams.
But upon further review, Johnson realized his best move was to come back and continue to work on his game.
“It was great to go through this process and have the chance to talk to some teams,” Johnson told UM's Sports information department. “I got positive feedback about my hands and footwork, but I decided that it would be best for me to come back to school and continue to work on some things to get to that next level.
“I feel like we have a great team returning next year, and I want to work with my teammates at Miami to make the NCAA Tournament. The opportunity to do that is a big part of my decision to come back.”
Coach Jim Larranaga was obviously happy to hear the news. “We’re very happy that Reggie has decided to return to our program at Miami,” Larranaga said in a statement released by the school. “I’m looking forward to working with him and his teammates to win an ACC Championship and compete in the NCAA Tournament.
“Reggie is a big, strong man who we expect to anchor both our offense and defense next season.”
UM loses just one player (Adrian Thomas) from a team that went 21-15 and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals. The new additions are 6-11 redshirt sophomore Kenny Kadji (Florida), 6-5 redshirt junior Trey McKinney Jones (UMKC) and 6-2 freshman guard Bishop Daniels.
As a sophomore, Johnson was UM's leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, averaging 11.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. He converted 59.1 percent of his field goals (the third-highest single-season percentage in UM history). He finished the season ranked second in the ACC in offensive rebounds (3.5), fourth in both defensive rebounds (6.1) and overall rebounds and 20th in scoring.
CORAL GABLES -- The Hurricanes introduced Jim Larranaga as its new basketball coach Friday night.
Here are a few video interviews following this evening's press conference:
It's not often you get the chance to hire a coach who has been to the Final Four and did it recently. But that's exactly what the University of Miami and new athletic director Shawn Eichorst pulled off in getting George Mason's Jim Larranaga to come to Coral Gables.
Larranaga, 61, flew to South Florida Friday morning to meet with UM officials and is expected to have a press conference later this afternoon. Larranaga, who spent the past 14 seasons at George Mason, left in part for more money.
George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor said as much when he spoke to the AP this morning. "In all honesty, the university can only go so far with finances," O'Connor said. "We think we put together a very, very attractive financial compensation package. We couldn't compete with an ACC school, a big football school with its budget."
You don't hear those words very often when it comes to Miami. But it's nice to see UM was willing to put up big cash for a quality coach -- even if his name wasn't Frank Martin.
Larranaga is no pushover. He led the Patriots to five NCAA tournament appearances in 14 seasons, including a suprising run to the Final Four in 2006.
Last season, he led George Mason to the CAA regular-season title and an at-large berth in the Big Dance. After beating Villanova, the Patriots lost to overall No. 1 seed Ohio State.
Before coaching at George Mason, Larranaga spent 11 seasons as the coach at Bowling Green.
At 61, he may not be at UM for a very, very long time. But he can lay a solid foundation and give this UM basketball team an identity moving forward -- the man loves pressure defense. In the end, this hire is going to turn out to be a lot better than what else UM could have ended up with. Tommy Amaker? Rob Jeter? None of those guys have Larranaga's resume.
What are your thoughts on the hiring?
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING...
ESPN's Dick Vitale on Twitter: "Miami hit a grand slam in getting Jim Larranaga from George Mason- He is a fierce competitor & has loads of contacts. Great hire!"
CBS and Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis: "Larranaga to Miami is a win win. He gets a better job for more money. UM gets a great coach. Let's not overthink this. Jim is nearing end of his career. Why not take a shot? What does he have to lose? He'll need top assts to get players but he can win there."
New UM athletic director Shawn Eichorst said Tuesday he was just beginning his search for a new men's basketball coach. But according to CBSSports.com Senior Writer Gary Parrish, that search may not take very long.
Citing multiple sources, Parrish reported George Mason's Jim Larranaga has had serious discussions with UM officials about its coaching vacancy and said the 61-year old has become UM's top coaching target. He also added he's not sure whether Larranaga is seriously interested or simply leveraging for more money from George Mason, which he took to the Final Four in 2006.
According to USA Today, Larranaga made a little more than $700,000 last season and signed a contract extension last year that would keep him at George Mason through 2015-2016.
We know UM has already contacted University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter about the job as well. Jeter, 41, has been at Wisconsin-Milwaukee for five years and has a 101-89 record. His team went 19-14 this season and won the Horizon League regular season title.
FORT MYERS -- The University of Miami women’s basketball team didn't have to sweat out Selection Monday. The Canes knew they were headed to the NCAA Tournament -- they just didn't know where or who they would be playing.
Well, now they know.
Miami (27-4) earned the No. 3 seed in the Dayton Region and will travel to Charlottesville, Va. where it will face No. 14-seed Gardner-Webb (23-10) in the opening round Sunday.
The winner of that game will face the winner of the match-up between No. 6-seed Oklahoma (21-11) and No. 11-seed James Madison (26-7). The top seed in the region is Tennessee (31-2). Notre Dame (26-7) is the No. 2 seed.
The No. 3 seed is the second-lowest in program history for UM behind the No. 2 seed earned by the 1991-92 Hurricanes, who won the Big East title and reached the Sweet 16.
The NCAA appearance is the seventh in school history. Miami is 2-6 all-time in NCAA play, with the last win coming on March 17, 1993 against St. Peters.
CORAL GABLES -- The University of Miami women's basketball team enjoyed a glorious turnaround from worst to first in the ACC this season. And that turnaround just got a little sweeter.
Johnson, a two-time All-ACC First Team selection, was the only player in the ACC to rank in the Top 10 in scoring (second, 19.6 ppg), rebounding (eighth, 7.8 rpg) and assists (ninth, 3.7 apg). Johnson, who had a league-high three 30-point performances and 11 20-point showings while being named the ACC Player of the Week on three occasions this season, was also named to the 2010-11 All-Defensive team. She is one of UM players to average more than three steals per game and owns an impressive 86 percent free throw accuracy. In addition, Johnson has found time to lead her team in blocks, registering 26 in 29 games played.
After leading her team an appearance to last year's NIT championship game, Meier guided the Canes to a 26-3 overall record and a 12-2 ACC mark, tying with Duke as regular season champions. The regular season title is the first for the Miami program and the No. 2 seed in the 2011 ACC Women's Basketball Tournament is the team's highest seed in school history since joining the league in 2004-05. Meier, who is in her sixth season at UM, is just two victories away from earning her 100th win at UM and would become just the third coach in program history to reach the milestone.
"Obviously I'm thrilled with the progress that we made this year," Meier said Tuesday. "The regular season was so much fun. I just love the ACC coaches and the games and the arenas and the crowds. It' been kind of a magical little run for us."
UM opens the ACC Tournament on Friday at 6 p.m. against the winner Thursday's first round game between Boston College and N.C. State.
"I really want to see us play free, confidently, passionately like we've been playing all year," Meier said. "It's been a unique chemistry, a unique energy about the team. That's a very hard thing to bottle up. It's a hard thing to make sure you know is there. That's where I'll be challenging them. I'll be pretty energetic and passionate in practice this week before we get up there making sure that it's consistent, it's there."
Frank Haith's basketball team will wrap up it's home schedule Wednesday night when it hosts Maryland (18-11, 7-7) at the BankUnited Center at 7 p.m.
Haith is holding out hope the Canes (17-12, 5-9 ACC) will at the very least earn a trip to the NIT Tournament with a strong finish this week and potentially a win or two in next week's ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
What would a post season trip anywhere mean for the Canes after finishing 20-13 and staying home last season? For the future success of Haith's program one could argue that it's vital.
"I think this team needs to play games," Haith said Tuesday. "Outside of Adrian [Thomas] everybody is back [next year]. Whether it's the NCAA Tournament or NIT, we'd be very happy to compete in the postseason. It's important for this team to get into the postseason."
All Haith needs to do is look right down the hallway at UM to see how much a trip to the postseason can help a team the following season. Katie Meier's team reached the NIT finals last season and is now ranked in the Top 10 nationally.
If anything, the Canes might finally learn how to win tight games more consistently. UM has a record of 6-8 this season in games decided by six points or less. Asked how his team could win more games late Haith said it starts with better decision making from his point guards.
"One thing really need to get better at is our decision making and ball handling," Haith said. "Our guard play has to be really good. [But] the teams that are really good in those last four minutes, you have to make good decisions. You got to get to the free throw line, you got to make free throws and a lot of it is guard play. We have good guards. Durand [Scott], Malcolm [Grant], those guys are good. We just need them to be better in late game situations."
When Scott and Grant first joined forces at UM last season they were expected to be improvements at the point guard position. But both combo guards have struggled when it comes to distributing the ball. UM's assist to turnover ratio a year ago was 464 to 448 or -0.5, eighth best in the ACC and 210th nationally. This season, UM's assist to turnover ratio ranks 10th in the ACC (336 assists to 400 turnovers). The Canes are 11th out of 12 teams in turnovers per game.
Grant, who finished sixth in the ACC a year ago with a 1.8 assist to turnover ratio (117 assists to 66 turnovers), has slipped to 1.3 (94 to 70). Scott has gone from having a 1.5 (113 to 73) turnover-to-assist ratio in 2010 to 1.1 (93 to 83) this season.
"You improve by experiences, what you've done in the past games so you know what to do and what not to do," Haith said. "I think we've had some improvement there. I've pointed out to you before the comparison of what happened at N.C. State and Wake Forest, same type of scenario. Obviously Wake Forest was a positive play. We executed better."
Still, Haith admits there have been conversations between he and his staff that the program might be better off finding natural point guards instead of combo guards going forward. That's something he hasn't done very often in his first seven years in Coral Gables.
"There's no question it's something we've talked about," Haith said of scrapping the combo-guard concept. "I think Durand is going to be able to do it in terms of what we need him to do. It's just a matter of him... It's a learning process. He's doing something he's never done before."
It should be noted that the Canes don't have any natural point guards waiting in the wings for next season. The only high school recruit UM signed, North Carolina native Bishop Daniels, is known for his dunks not for his passes. Trey McKinney-Jones, a transfer, is a 6-5 shooting guard.
OTHER UM TIDBITS
> Former Canes cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke opened some eyes at Tuesday's NFL combine in Indianapolis when he posted a 4.28 time in the 40-yard dash, faster than any other competitor in the field. Van Dyke (6-1, 176) ran the third-fastest 40 at the combine since 2000 behind Titans running back Chris Johnson who turned in a 4.24 in 2008 and Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt`s 4.27 in 2005.
> According to UM, baseball coach Jim Morris remains hospitalized after having his gall bladder removed on Feb. 25. Morris was recovering from surgery before an infection required him to check back into the hospital. According to UM, doctors have stopped the spread of the infection. No word yet on when he'll be back on the field. Pitching coach JD Arteaga has served as interim manager during Morris absence.
"I'm progressing and getting better day by day," Morris said in a statement released by the school Tuesday morning. "I'm anxious to get released from the hospital and rejoin the team as soon as possible."
Originally, he was expected to rejoin the team for the Hurricanes' trip to No. 1 Florida for a three-game series beginning Friday. But UM spokesman Bryan Harvey said in a Tweet that's unlikely now.
The Miami Hurricanes' chase of Palm Beach Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett is officially over.
Three days after announcing at a basketball he wanted to play for the Gators, the U.S. Army All-American quarterback faxed his signed National Letter of Intent to Gainesville on Monday despite the efforts of his mother to sway him back toward the Canes.
Brissett (6-5, 225) was the top remaining unsigned quarterback in the country and said on Friday that he narrowed his choices down to UM and UF. But he chose to follow his heart -- and three former Dwyer teammates -- to Gainesville, against his mother's wishes.
Former Michigan standout Tate Forcier and Rutgers freshman All-American Tom Savage remain transfer possibilities for the Hurricanes at quarterback. Both would have to sit out the 2011 season if they picked UM per NCAA transfer rules. Forcier is reportedly going to visit UM sometime this week.
Just my opinion, but of the two, Savage is more likely to end up a Hurricane. Forcier had academic issues before leaving Michigan and is more likely to end up closer to home on the West Coast. Savage's grandparents own a home in South Florida.
> As the Canes look for a quarterback of the future, here is an interesting read from Rivals about Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, who had zero offers coming out of high school.
> The Hurricanes could end up adding another defensive tackle to their 2011 signing class sometime this week. According to InsideTheU.com, Bradenton Manatee senior Quinton Pompey (6-3, 275) still remains unsigned and is waiting on Miami according to his high school coach. Pompey's other offers are from Georgia Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Pompey was lightly recruited because of academic struggles, but has apparently worked them out according to his coach.
> Men's basketball coach Frank Haith, whose team pulled out two close home wins last week to keep their faint postseason hopes alive, said it looks like his two leading scorers Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant, and starting swingman Garrius Adams, finally appear to be getting past the flu.
The bigger concern? Sophomore center Reggie Johnson, who continues to battle issues with his right foot. Johnson, averaging 12 points and 9.9 rebounds a game (third most in the ACC), had bone spurs in his foot earlier this season. He played a season-high 34 minutes in Saturday's overtime win over Virginia.
"He has a reaction in his foot," Haith said during Monday's ACC teleconference. "We got to see that goes. He didn't practice Friday and I think he's going to be tabled at practice. We'll wait to see what the doctors say today."
> ESPN's Bruce Feldman said former UM coach Randy Shannon is supposed to interview for the vacant defensive coordinator job at Maryland later this week. Shannon interviewed for the same position with UCLA last month.
> Looks like another former Hurricanes assistant has landed at Alabama. Joe Pannunzio, who coached the special teams and tight ends under Shannon the last four years, has reportedly been hired in an "off the field role" by Nick Saban. Alabama hired former offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland last month.
> Just a reminder: the Hurricanes baseball team will have its team banquet Friday night at 6 p.m. and Fan Fest Saturday at 3 p.m. Jim Morris' team opens its season at home a week from Friday (Feb. 18) against Rutgers.
> Also, in case you missed Jorge Milian's blog from last week, UM is in talks with Florida State about scheduling next season's game as the season-opener on Labor Day. It's still not finalized.
Hurricanes point guard Malcolm Grant said he'd like to own a black Dodge Charger some day soon so he can stop bothering his teammates for a ride. But first, the 6-1, 180-pound junior from Brooklyn has to finally get his drivers license.
"I've taken [the test] once and failed really bad," Grant said Friday. "It's a really funny story. I ran into the cones when I was parking. The [instructor] asked me, 'How long have you been driving?' I said, 'Two weeks.' He said, 'That's the reason right there. You're not ready. You're not ready to drive.'
"He kind of hurt my feelings and I got out of the car real mad. But I can drive now. I just wasn't ready for the test the other day."
UM coach Frank Haith, who likes to give Grant a hard time about his driving, joked South Floridians should be happy Grant isn't on the road. "He has a tough time figuring out how to put his seatbelt on," Haith said. "So, there's no way he should get a license."
Haith doesn't want to see Grant behind the wheel, but he's definitely hoping he can start steering the Hurricanes' offense in the right direction beginning Sunday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. against N.C. State (11-7, 1-3).
UM has lost 11 straight road games in the ACC and is coming off its first home loss of the season Wednesday night to rival Florida State -- a bitter defeat that saw the Hurricanes (12-6, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) blow a seven-point lead with over six minutes to play.
Grant, who scored 20 points, was the only UM player to score in double-digits and make a field goal (a three-pointer) over the final six minutes of the game.
Despite holding FSU to a season-low 19.2 percent shooting in the first half and leading by as many as 12 points, the Canes converted only six of their final 22 field goal attempts and shot 34 percent for the game. Sophomore guard Durand Scott missed two crucial lay-ups on UM's final two offensive possessions -- including one that would have tied the game with three seconds to play.
"Looking back at the film, maybe I should have looked back around to see who was open instead of going directly to the basket," Scott said. "That would have been my better choice. But in the heat of the moment, it's kind of hard to think about stopping knowing there is 10 seconds on the clock."
Grant took UM's final shot -- a three-pointer -- with two defenders in his face as the final second was ticking off the clock. It was partially blocked. Grant said Friday he was fouled attempting it. But referees didn't call it and ruled the shot was released after the game clock had expired.
"After the game, the day after I was still upset about it," Grant said. "But I just had to let it go man... Nobody is really panicking yet. We understand what our record was last year. But at the same time we know its a long season. We're ready to keep fighting."
N.C. State is coming off three consecutive losses to the top three teams in the league: Florida State, Boston College and Duke. But the Wolfpack, picked to finish fourth in the ACC in the preseason, are a dangerous team according to Haith.
Coach Sidney Lowe recruited the seventh best freshman class in the country last season according to ESPN, adding 6-8, 205-pound forward C.J. Leslie (11.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and guard Lorenzo Brown (8.9 ppg, 3.2 apg) to a team already featuring All-ACC forward Tracy Smith (15.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and swingman Scott Wood (10.9 ppg), one of the league's top three-point shooters.
"It's a very gifted team in terms of talent," Haith said. "They've lost a couple games here late. I'm sure they think its a home game they got to have to get back in the race. But we feel like its a road game we have to have. It should be an intense basketball game."
A big key for UM's struggling will be getting center Reggie Johnson more involved in the offense. UM's third leading scorer has been battling bone spurs in his right foot since the day after the Canes' loss at Duke on Jan. 2. Johnson has scored 22 points combined over his last three games and hasn't attempted more than six field goals in any of those games. He's averaged under 25 minutes during that span while also battling foul trouble.
"When we do see Reggie's number -- and that 42 is hard to miss -- we got to throw it to him," Haith said. "But he has to do his work early. People are looking to take him out. He's got to work a little harder. The other night he missed a couple shots, got frustrated, so he wasn't himself. That's part of his maturity. He can't let past plays affect his current play."
As much as UM's offense has struggled, turnovers really haven't been the problem. Since ACC play began, the Canes haven't had more than 12 in any of their first four games. Haith said the problem hasn't been shot selection either.
"If you really dissect it, we really got some good looks," Haith said. "Adrian Thomas from three-point range with nobody in front of him. That's a good shot. Everytime we got the ball inside to Reggie he missed a couple bunnies. Those are good shots for us.
"That's tell me we're doing okay offensively. We just have to make some shots. "
A FEW MORE BASKETBALL NUGGETS...
> Haith doesn't want to get fined for complaining about the officiating on Wednesday, but he was obviously upset with the discrepancy (UM went to the line 20 times, FSU went 30).
"Couple plays that could have gone either way," Haith said of the officiating Friday. "The play before Durand brought the ball up with 10 seconds, there was a lot of contact there. The referee didn't think it was enough to warrant the foul. Durand's next play though was tough to see. Malcolm's [last-second shot] there was some contact there. It's part of it. Late game, referees want to make sure they see it good before they make a call like that... I'm being politically correct of course."
> Although they aren't exactly as stingy as Florida State when it comes to clamping down on shooters, UM's defense has steadily improved this season at least in conference play. Last year, UM ranked last in three-point shooting defense (.386) and ninth in field goal defense (.440). Through four games against three of the top teams in the standings: UM ranks seventh in field goal defense (.429) and fifth against three-pointers (.318).
"We went into the year thinking we were going to be a primary zone defense. We worked on it a lot. But I think we're a pretty good man defense too," Haith said. "Against Boston College we played a lot of man, we mixed it in a lot. I think it's good to have the ability to do both. Our zone has man principles. It's very similar. We pressure the ball, have help side defense, we rotate. It's very similar other than we're stationary. We don't run all over the court."
> Haith said freshman forward Erik Swoope might be the toughest and grittiest guy on the team.
"This guy turned his ankle the day before. His ankle ballooned up. He finished practice. [Our trainer] said 'He better go get an x-ray because I think it's broken.' He comes back, finds out its not broken, says 'I'm playing.' He can hardly walk, gets treatment all day and he's playing," Haith said.
"He has that 'it' factor. I love him. I love what he stands for. I love what he's all about. You can win with guys like that. He's a little undersized. But he plays with a lot of grit."
> Haith said he's hopeful swing man DeQuan Jones (broken right hand) will return some point later on this season. Without Jones on Wednesday, Haith juggled his lineup a bit -- giving more time to his freshmen.
"We ended up sizing down, playing Adrian [Thomas] more at the three and moving Raphael [Akpejiori] in the post. That's what we have to do. Hopefully, Rion Brown will get more minutes too."
> Even though they're 1-3 in league play and likely need to win seven of their final 12 league games to have any shot at going to the NCAA Tournament, Malcolm Grant isn't worried.
"We're going to continue to do the same things we've been doing," Grant said. "We're going to turn it around. Nobody is panicking. We all still believe we're going to make the tournament, we're going to do it -- I know that for a fact."
The Miami Hurricanes just got a little thinner at small forward.
Junior swingman DeQuan Jones has been ruled out indefinitely after breaking his right hand during Saturday's 72-71 win over Boston College on Saturday. Jones (6-7, 219) has started in eight games and played in all 17 games for the Hurricanes (12-5, 1-2) this season, averaging 5.2 points and 2.5 rebounds.
Jones came to UM as a 5-star recruit according to Rivals and Scout.com, but hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations, starting 31 games and averaging 4.4 points and 2.1 rebounds over his career.
The Hurricanes host Florida State (13-5, 3-1 ACC) at 9 p.m. at BankUnited Center. The game is being televised on SunSports. The Seminoles have won eight of the last nine meetings and lead the country in field goal percentage defense.
The University of Miami women's basketball team is back in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Hurricanes, who have won 15 consecutive games, found themselves at No. 22 Monday afternoon following a pair of ACC road wins last week at Virginia and Virginia Tech. Last year, UM entered the poll at No. 25 for the first time since 2004 after knocking off then 13th-ranked Florida State. But they were only ranked a week after losing to then No. 8 Duke.
The Hurricanes have been led by the three-headed monster of junior guards Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams and sophomore forward Morgan Stroman. Williams and Johnson are the top two leading scorers in the ACC averaging 19.8 and 19.1 points per game. Stroman is averaging 14.5 points.
"I'm certainly happy that our players and staff have been recognized nationally for all their hard work," UM coach Katie Meier said in a press release from the school. "I have a lot of faith and belief in our team and I am confident we will keep practicing and preparing for the ACC schedule in order to reach our goals moving forward."
UM (16-1, 2-0 ACC) returns home this week to face Clemson Friday night and Boston College on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be televised by FSN.
> When it comes to quality big men, UM's men's basketball has a rather large one in 6-10, 303-pound sophomore Reggie Johnson. But beyond Big Reg, the Canes have proven to be a bit thin. Saturday's 79-72 loss at Clemson was proof as the Tigers dominated UM on the inside with a gimpy Johnson battling bone spurs in his right foot.
UM coach Frank Haith said during Monday's ACC Teleconference he's hoping Johnson can make a quick recovery this week in time for Saturday's 6 p.m. tip-off against Boston College at BankUnited Center. Haith said Saturday Johnson didn't practice all of last week and had his foot in a walking boot.
> Latwan Anderson, a highly touted All-American cornerback from Glenville, Ohio who signed a track scholarship with the Hurricanes last year with the hopes of eventually playing football, will not be returning to the program.
Chris Freet, UM's Associate Athletic Director for Communication said Anderson, who left in December, is no longer a part of the Miami Athletics Department and will not be with UM during the spring semester.
"Latwan did not fulfill the requirements to be a student-athlete at the University of Miami," Freet said.
> Al Golden and the UM football team is expected to announce the hiring of the final two assistant coaches -- including offensive coordinator -- in the next 12 to 24 hours.
It's a little chilly in here, but that's what happens sometimes when hockey meets the hardwood.
The Panthers ice is covered up and there's a basketball court. Hopefully some fans will join us. If not, we're here for you.
The first game of this Orange Bowl double-dip features Miami against the upstart UCF Knights. UCF hasn't played too many tough teams, but they did knock off the Gators. The Gator plays Frank Martin's Kansas State squad in the second game.
Anyway, the LIVE! chat is below. Just click on the play button to see the posts. If you have a question or comment, submit it and I'll approve it (as long as it's clean). That process may take a moment or two so be patient.
Let's play two!
The University of Miami men's basketball team got back to work Wednesday, less than 48 hours after dropping a 72-68 early morning heartbreaker at 19th-ranked Memphis.
"I thought our kids played really really hard, learned a lot," Haith said. "Obviously we turned the ball over [18 times]. We had our chances to win the game there at the end. We were up [63-59] with [3:55] to go, had a couple turnovers and they converted. Then, we had a defensive breakdown. We had played great defense all game. I think they made 19 field goals [of 56 attempts]. Against our set defense, they only made nine field goals. The rest were off transition and easy buckets.
"Then, the only time we really had a major breakdown they hit it. Free throw shooting also hurt us late game. With all that said, if we make our free throws we're still able to win the game. All in all, great learning experience, great environment. Early in the year we want to play those type of games on the road against a Top 20 team. But I'm proud of our kids and how hard we fought and competed to give us a chance to win the game."
Point guard Malcolm Grant, who missed an off-balance game-tying three-point shot with three seconds left on UM's final possession, said he learned a lesson too. "I was trying to draw the foul at the end," Grant. "But I was told refs don't always make those calls at the end. So, I know from now on, shoot my regular shot instead of trying to draw a foul. But you learn from it. I missed the shot. I'll definitely remember that. It won't keep me down."
The Hurricanes (1-1) will get back on the court Friday at 7 p.m. when they host North Carolina Central (1-1) at BankUnited Center.
Haith said one thing he'd like to focus on over the next few weeks is getting Grant and Durand Scott fewer minutes in the first half and sophomore center Reggie Johnson more minutes overall. Grant is averaging 33.5 minutes a game -- up from the 24.6 he averaged a year ago. Scott is averaging 31.5 minutes -- up from 27.8.
"We haven't had a guy play those type of minutes before," Haith said. "We can give them some early rest so they aren't gassed in the end. We also have to keep Reggie in the game. Two games in a row, he's been saddled with two fouls early and only played  minutes [versus Memphis]. We need him to play more minutes."
Haith said N.C. Central, coming off a 7-22 season, will be "a very tough game." The Eagles, who return their top eight leading scorers, lost in overtime at Oklahoma Monday night. North Carolina Central, which is reclassifying from Division II to Division I college basketball, has a 41-game losing streak on the road.
"They're better than they were last year," Haith said. "Central is athletic, they'll change defenses. They played almost all zone against Oklahoma. In previous years, they've been a pressing team. I think we have to expect to play against both."
The University of Miami men’s basketball team signed Bishop Daniels to a National Letter of Intent Wednesday, adding a high-flying combo guard to its roster that coach Frank Haith said reminds him of Guillermo Diaz.
Daniels, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder from Raleigh, N.C., is ranked as the 112th best recruit by Rivals.com. He averaged 13 points and five assists per game for Word of God Christian Academy (N.C.) last season -- the same school that produced first overall pick John Wall two years ago.
"He's a true combo right now, but eventually will be a point guard," Haith said. "He's coming to a team that's going to pretty much be the same team next year. So we can kind of grow him.
"The way he flies, he's like Guillermo [Diaz]. He's a really athletic player. I don't remember Guillermo in high school in terms of how good a shooter he was. But he was a great shooter when he left here. Bishop has to work to that. But he's that kind of athlete."
Daniels, who played AAU ball for the CP3 All-Stars and was also recruited by schools such as N.C. State and Purdue, is the final recruit in the Canes' 2011 signing class. The Canes, who open the season Friday night at home against Jacksonville, used their other scholarships on 6-11 center Kenny Kadji and 6-5 guard Trey McKinney-Jones, who transferred in from other programs. Both will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules.
"We're only going to loss Adrian Thomas from this team," Haith said. "I think we're going to be in pretty good shape this year and next."
The University of Miami men's and women's basketball teams accomplished something last year that had never been done before: they each finished with at 20 wins in the same season. With the bulk of those teams back, expectations are high as both believe they should make it to the NCAA Tournament.
Will they get there? We'll find out in March. But here are some news and notes from Wednesday's media day in Coral Gables:
> Men's coach Frank Haith, whose team opens the exhibition season next Wednesday at home against Barry, finished 20-12 and reached the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament before losing to eventual national champion Duke.
"We had our media day in North Carolina last week and somebody asked me if you can have momentum carry over last year. And my answer was yeah -- if you have the bulk of your team back from last season, which we do,'' Haith said.
"I think we got a team good enough to finish in the middle of the pack. Does that mean we'll finish fifth or sixth? I don't know, we could probably second or third. I think we have a team that can finish in the upper half of this league."
> The two things Haith said he challenged talented sophomore Durand Scott to improve after last season was his role as a vocal leader and his three-point shooting (he was only 16 of 58, .276 as a freshman). It appears Scott, who attended Chris Paul's prestigious camp for guards over the summer, has done both.
"I've seen a drastic change in Durand," junior swingman Dequan Jones said. "He's one of those kids where he was naturally born to lead. He has an ambience about him that makes you want to follow him. I think now he's really tapped into who he is and how he's going to lead the team vocally and by example. Guys are ready to rally behind him and win some games. In practice everyday he gets guys going. He's always vocal whether we're running dummy offense or playing five-on-five live. He's always talking, saying screen left or screen right. He gives you that confidence on the court that he's always there."
Haith said Scott has also already shown an improved shooting touch. He just doesn't want him to make the mistake of feeling like he has to prove it during the games, rather flash it. "Durand has to be a well-rounded, all-around player," Haith said. "The strength of his game is getting in the paint. I think it will be even more effective if he can make shots. I don’t want him to have to prove to people he’s a three-point shooter. That’s the worst thing a young player can do when they think they lack in our area and the first opportunity they get they have to prove they’re a three-point shooter. You have to do you. We had a practice the other day and Durand made three or three threes in a row. He’s definitely worked at it. It’s all about working game speed with Durand.
> There were plenty of highlights for the Canes during the summer -- trips to different parts of the world and what not. But the big highlight? When LeBron James and several NBA players (Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade) came in and spent three days playing pick-up games with the team over the summer.
"They came in here and played ball with us -- it wasn't just breaking a sweat or anything like that," forward Julian Gamble said. "They talked to us, kidded around. It was a great opportunity, once in a lifetime. These are superstar guys that get paid hundreds of millions of dollars do what they do. For them to come in there and act like one of us, showed us how they’re people too. The way they came in here how humble they were, it was really great."
Scott said he was able to steal the ball once from LeBron. Any dunks? "No," Scott said laughing. "I wish."
> Since practice started Oct. 15, Haith said guard Malcolm Grant, a 6-1, 180-pound junior who is expected to join standout sophomore Durand Scott in the starting back court, has stood out the most. "He's playing with such confidence, playing quicker,'' Haith said. "I told him to study a former player I had at Texas, D.J. Augustin. [Grant] reminds me a lot of D.J."
Haith said Grant, who lost about 10 pounds in the offseason, made his biggest strides "in terms of pace, how he can accelerate and his ability to shoot the ball."
"He's playing at a high level right now," Haith said.
> Forward Julian Gamble (6-9, 258) returned to practice Monday after sitting out a month following surgery to repair or a torn meniscus in his left knee. "It's just a process of getting back into shape, just jelling with the guys,'' said Gamble, who says he doesn't feel any discomfort in the knee. "I'm really happy to be back out there when I'm not sucking wind on the sidelines, trying to survive.''
Haith expects Gamble, who started 11 games in a row to close out the 2009 season and averaged 6.3 rebounds over his last seven starts, to be ready by the time the Hurricanes play their first road game at Memphis Nov. 15. The Tigers debuted at No. 19 in the preseason AP poll.
> Junior swingman Dequan Jones has been rather unspectacular most of his career despite coming to UM as one of the most highly touted recruits Haith has brought in. Last year, he averaged 5.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and had just 15 steals and 16 blocks in 20 starts. But his strong showing at the ACC tournament, when he averaged 11.7 points, has Haith optimistic about Jones' future.
Jones said he's continued to work hard in the offseason on his jump shot, putting up 500 to 600 shots a day after practice when he's already tired. Jones said he wouldn't leave the court until he's done making at least 300. "Jump shooting has been a big thing for me in the offseason," Jones said. "Most people come in at different times to shoot. When you shoot after practice, when your body is tired, that's more like a game situation."
> Freshman forward Raphael Akpejiori (6-8, 229), who sustained a stress reaction in his foot when practice first began on Oct. 15, is being closely monitored said Haith. As for his play, Haith said: "He is relentless on the court. I love that about him. Compared to say Dwayne Collins at the same stage, he’s got more skill set than Dwayne does. Dwayne was very raw as a freshman. [Akpejiori] has good low post moves. He has really tremendous instincts around the basket in terms of keeping balls alive. He’s not afraid of contact. He even gave the old [Dikembe] Mutombo move the other day at practice. He has all the things I love in terms of energy and enthusiasm."
> Haith said redshirt freshman forward Donnavan Kirk (6-9, 227) will definitely be in the rotation this season and play quite a bit. "He gives us athleticism in the post,'' Haith said. "He's a pretty good skill [player] too. He can make a shot 17-feet in. I think he'll be a three-point shooter before his career is over. He's a guy that's not allergic to working."
> At 6-10 and athletic 303-pounds, sophomore center Reggie Johnson can be a pretty intimidating presence on the basketball court. But could you picture him wearing shoulder pads, a helmet and standing side by side with 6-8, 355-pound freshman tackle Seantrel Henderson?
Apparently, Hurricanes football coach Randy Shannon already has. Johnson, who held court for about 20 minutes with reporters (telling funny stories about his offseason trip to China and how he tripped and fell during his tour of the Great Wall), said Shannon has joked with him in the past about coming out for football.
"Coach always says, `Hey, big fella, come on out to the football field. You saw Jimmy Graham, right? Look where he is now: Making millions,'" Johnson said. "I'm like, `Yes, sir.'"
Johnson, who impressed at last year's ACC Tournament averaging 13.7 points, eight rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in earning Second Team all-tournament honors, probably won't ever have to do it. His basketball talents are already drawing the attention of NBA scouts. But would he try football if hoops didn't work out? "Hopefully I don't have to; I want to stick with basketball," Johnson said. "[But] If it comes about I think I would. It could be [an option]."
Johnson of course would have to get over one big issue: his fear of Shannon. "I'm afraid of coach Shannon for no reason, I don't know why," Johnson said. "He walks up, comes to my class - and even though he's not checking on me - I straighten up, raise my hand, pay attention. I can't explain it."
> Haith said Dwayne Collins, drafted 60th overall by the Suns last June, is back home in Miami. Collins was playing in the Italian basketball league top level for Pallacanestro Varese. Former Canes Jack McClinton, Rob Hite and Brian Asbury are all playing in Israel. Haith said last he heard Guillermo Diaz was playing in Puerto Rico and Anthony King was in Germany.
> Women's coach Katie Meier, whose team is bringing back its top two scorers in Shenise "Moe Moe" Johnson and Riquna "Bay Bay" Williams from a 22-14 season which ended with a runner-up in the NIT, said the biggest improvement her team has made is in the backcourt.
"The difference between this year and last year will be that when the game is on the line and there is four minutes left in the game, [Johnson and Williams] won't have played 34 minutes already and try to win the game when they're completely exhausted,'' Meier said. "There is a lot on those two kids and in end of the game situations they were pretty much spent. It's my job as a coach to give them the eight minute media rest, plus a couple more minutes in the second half so when its time to bring their A-game in the last two minutes of the game, they can do that."
> Freshman guard Krystal Saunders, a 5-8 standout from South Broward High, is one of the new additions Meier is most excited about. She said Saunders' scoring ability … particularly from three-point range -- should help spread the floor even more for Johnson and Williams to penetrate.
"Her style and our style is a great marriage," Meier said. "She's really showing up in practice."
If there is one thing University of Miami freshman Seantrel Henderson has done in his first week in football camp, it's impress his new teammates with his athleticism.
Henderson (6-8, 350) was more than just the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle coming out of Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn. He was also one of the nation's best big men on the basketball court. Just how good was he? Let's just say if the big guy was willing to try to pull a Julius Peppers or Charlie Ward and Randy Shannon was willing to give him the go-ahead, Frank Haith said he would welcome Henderson with open arms.
"We actually called him and were interested in him," Haith said Wednesday. "He's a good basketball player. He really has good mobility, good hands. He can hold his own. I think he could play and be an effective player at this level."
For three years, Henderson played on the same AAU team (the Howard Pulley Panthers) as Harrison Barnes, the nation's No. 1 high school basketball player who signed with North Carolina. Haith said he would love to see Henderson what it would look like if Henderson was patrolling the paint alongside sophomore center Reggie Johnson (6-10, 305).
"There would be no room for anybody else on the court," Haith joked. "It's not the easiest thing to do [to play two sports]. I'm sure his future is in football in terms of the NFL. But he definitely has a skill set. I'm not going to root for it. But if he wanted to, we would definitely welcome it."
The likelihood that we ever see Henderson dribble a basketball at UM is likely next to none. But considering Jimmy Graham made the move from hoops to football and gave the Canes a huge lift at tight end, maybe Shannon could do Haith a favor and let Henderson play some hoops if Haith needs him? Just a thought.
> BIG GAMES ON TAP: Now that the NBA schedule has been released, look for the college basketball schedule to be released soon (likely the beginning of September). The Hurricanes won't have nearly as many national appearances as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat, but they've lined up a few games that are at least sexy on paper and could get them on TV.
Haith said the Canes will play their first road game and make their first national TV appearance kicking off ESPN's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon (24 consecutive hours of college hoops) with a midnight game at Memphis right after Monday Night Football in mid-November. After that, UM is supposed to host both Ole Miss, an NIT semifinalist, and West Virginia, a Final Four team last year, in December. There is also a road trip to Rutgers and a Christmas tournament in Las Vegas with Rice, Akron and Oral Roberts, teams that all finished with 20 wins last season. "I think it's a really good schedule that's going to test us early," Haith said.
North Carolina and Duke, the last two national champions, will both travel to BankUnited Center. The Canes will not have to play at UNC, but do have a trip to Duke. "They'll be the best team in the country this year," Haith said of Duke. "You talk about the Plumlees. Kyle [Singler] is terrific. He's one of my favorite players. I shouldn't say favorite. He's been a Miami killer. But the way he plays and what he does. He's great."
The Canes definitely played the Blue Devils tough before losing to them at the ACC Tournament semifinals. While Haith said his players gained some confidence from playing the Blue Devils tough, coming close to beating great teams just isn't enough anymore.
"Yeah, we played Duke tough," Haith said. "But we want to beat Duke. Our goal is to have our program win championships. It does give us a little confidence. But I want our guys to understand the big picture. Hopefully, we can learn from a team like Duke. They have guys like Zoubek who is a complete role guy. Those guys bought into a role for the betterment of the team. That's how you win."
Sophomore guard Durand Scott participated in Chris Paul's camp. "I think he's gotten stronger, bigger," Haith said. "He was just a wiry freshman last year. He looks more put together now."
Junior forward Julian Gamble spent his summer playing in a league in North Carolina, alongside players from Duke, N.C. State and the Tar Heels.
Point guard Malcolm Grant spent his summer training on campus and he's lost weight, dropping down from 190 to about 183. "I thought he was overweight last year," Haith said. "I think we'll see a player with a little bit more burst, a little more quickness."
Reggie Johnson is currently playing in China with Athletes in Action. Haith said he is proud of the way Johnson continues to monitor his weight and be responsible about eating. "I get daily text messages from out there," Haith said. "One day, they were all chose to go to McDonald's. Reggie chose not to go. It was good because I think he knew we were going to be tracking him."
The only player who hasn't been able to get much work done this offseason, according to Haith, has been junior swingman DeQuan Jones. "He's been down all summer," Haith said. "He hurt [his ankle] early in the summer and hasn't really done a whole lot. He's still not 100 percent. It was a really bad sprain. He was playing one-on-one with Malcolm Grant and wasn't wearing an ankle bracelet. He just came down and landed wrong on his foot. He's going to be rusty when he comes back."
Guard Trey McKinney-Jones, a transfer from the University of Missour-Kansas City, has also been injured this summer. McKinney-Jones, however, isn't eligible to play until the 2011-2012 season per NCAA transfer rules anyway. "He had a rib situation going on," Haith said. "Something to do with cartilage."
> Of the three freshmen to arrive, Haith said guard Rion Brown is most likely to make an impact right away. "He's going to be a major player for us," Haith said. "He's another guy that came in really slender. But he's picked up about 10 pounds already. Rion can score the ball. He shot almost 60 percent in high school. He has good bloodlines. His dad, Tico Brown, was the CBA's leading scorer.
> With Dwayne Collins and Cyrus McGowan gone, redshirt freshman Donnovan Kirk's role will significantly increase in the post. Haith said Kirk, who came in weighing 210 pounds, has added the bulk he's needed to compete in the ACC.
"Like Dwayne, Donnovan has that length you want," Haith said. "I think his wingspan is 7-3. He's very athletic. He plays hard, has a big-time motor. I'm not sure how we'll use him, but he'll play major minutes. He's like 225-230 now. You just love his activity as a live wire. He can shoot the ball, has a nice jump hook."
"I like our post guys. We don't have a lot of depth there in terms of numbers. But with Reggie, Julian, Donnovan, Adrian Thomas we should be good."
Freshman Raphael Akpejiori (6-9, 235) will probably only redshirt if those four stay injury free. "Raphael won't be ready to come in and be a major player right away," Haith said. "But I think he could be like Jimmy Graham was for us as a freshman. He was big, strong, physical, rebounded and played defense."
> The Hurricanes only have one scholarship remaining for the 2011 class now that forward Kenny Kadji has transferred over from Florida. "With Kenny taking one, we can kind of be selective," Haith said. "Since we don't have a lot of scholarships, we made sure to see a lot of juniors this summer. We're involved with a lot of good ones."
The University of Miami announced Wednesday that freshman guard Antoine Allen has decided to transfer and pursue basketball at another school.
Allen, a 6-1 guard from the same AAU program Jack McClinton played for in Baltimore, averaged 2.9 points and 0.8 rebounds while converting 41.7 percent from long range in 17 appearances last season. He was named to the All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball Team.
“I appreciate Antoine’s efforts this season,” UM coach Frank Haith said in prepared statement. “I support his decision to seek additional playing time with another program and I wish him well.”
The Canes return nine players including four starters -- Durand Scott, Reggie Johnson, DeQuan Jones and Julian Gamble -- who helped the team reach the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Allen played one minute against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament and had not played at all before that since the trip to Maryland on Jan. 26.
Hey guys, Andre Fernandez here. Here's an update from the Canes' women's NIT game against the Gators:
In front of several of its women's basketball alumni, the Canes kept their season going with a 77-64 victory against the Florida Gators Sunday afternoon at the BankUnited Center.
UM won its second postseason game in a season for the first time in school history. The tournament expanded to 64 teams this season. It is the Canes' first trip to the Round of 16 since the 2005-06 season.
And UM will host again.
The Canes will play North Carolina A&T Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the BankUnited Center.
UM dominated the game and had four players score in double figures.
Shenise Johnson posted a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Canes, but Charmaine Clark had 16 points, Diane Barnes had 13 and Riquna Williams had 15.
The Canes also dominated on the boards, finishing with a 43-31 edge and 15-10 on offensive rebounds. The only thing that kept the game close was UF's three-point shooting. The Gators made 9 of 26 from beyond the arc, but Miami countered by making 7 of 22 from three-point range.
Frank Haith's basketball team made a lot of noise in the ACC Tournament. It apparently just wasn't enough to get the attention of the NIT selection committee.
When the NIT brackets were finally unveiled on ESPNU for the 32-team tournament moments ago, the Canes (20-13) were nowhere to be found. Unless Haith has a change of heart, that means UM's season has come to an end. Last week, Haith told reporters if his team received an invite to anything other than NIT, it would pass.
It's a tough way for UM to end the year, especially since they seemed to be playing at their best now.
Miami won an opening round NIT game last year at Providence before losing to Florida in the second round. The Hurricanes have been to the postseason in four of Haith's first six seasons as coach.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The press room inside the Greensboro Coliseum is usually a pretty quiet place. At around 4:30 p.m. Friday, the neighbors did a nice job disrupting the peace. On the other side of the thick brick wall dividing the press from the locker rooms, a jubilant University of Miami basketball team could be heard celebrating their second upset win in a row at the ACC Tournament.
Before Friday, no UM team had ever won two post season conference games in the same season. Not the one Jack McClinton took to the second round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago. Not even the one that shared the Big East Title in 2000. Somehow, the most successful tournament team in UM history has become the one that finished in last place and is surviving without its leading scorer and rebounder.
"For real?" a puzzled Reggie Johnson told me when I mentioned his Canes were the first to win twice in a post-season conference tournament. "I had no idea. I guess that means we should have been doing this all year then."
It's far too late for UM (20-12) to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The only way for the Canes to go dancing is to beat top-seeded Duke Saturday and then win again Sunday. But one can only imagine the what-if scenarios at this point.
> What if Durand Scott would have actually listened to Haith and been more aggressive at the start of the season instead of waiting for the final month to show everybody why he was so highly touted?
> What if DeQuan Jones would have averaged 14 points a game -- what he's done at the ACC Tournament -- instead of losing his spot in the starting rotation, his confidence and riding the pine since Christmas?
> What if Dwayne Collins would have gone pro? Would a full season of Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble been more fruitful for the Canes?
> Would the Canes have blown a 17-point lead at home against Boston College?
> Would UM have let their 12-point halftime lead against Duke wilt away?
> Would Miami really have finished in last place?
There's no way to really know. But there is a feeling in the Canes' locker room things would have definitely been different. Scott admitted he was nervous early this season to step on anybody's toes, despite the fact Haith was pushing him to take on a bigger role.
Friday, though, Scott had no problem handling it. With the game against Virginia Tech in the balance, he scored 11 points over the final six minutes by attacking the basket like it was nobody's business. His teammates were glad he did.
"Coach said four low and just move out the way and let Durand go to work," guard Malcolm Grant said. "Durand's a great driver and a great finisher. It was just great for him to come through. The way I've always felt about it is whoever helps us win, that's who we want to do it."
The Canes are finally coming through this season. Win or lose against Duke, all U can say is better late than never.
I'm certainly not trying to single out Haith, Collins or anybody on this team for its regular season underachievement. What I'm saying is after watching them beat two NCAA Tournament teams in a row here, its obvious they should have been better than last place. This is a young basketball team and its taken time for them to learn how to win, feel confident. But it's obvious the talent was there for better results.
A FEW MORE TIDBITS...
> For those of you still wishing for Frank Haith's reign as Canes coach to be over, ESPN reporter Andy Katz posted on his Twitter account that Haith could be a candidate to replace Jeff Lebo at Auburn, who was fired Friday. Haith and the Canes were already gone when Katz tweeted the message.
> With UM's two wins in the tournament, the Canes have gone from missing the NIT entirely to at least having a shot.
> According to UM's sports information office, Ohio star cornerback Latwan Anderson has formally signed his national letter of intent for his track scholarship.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Hurricanes' upset of fifth-seeded Wake Forest Thursday was by far the best thing that has happened for Frank Haith's basketball team since it began the season 15-1. It wasn't just the fact the Canes kept their NIT and NCAA hopes alive, but the way the team played in its 21-point blowout. UM finally showed the energy, aggressiveness and athleticism Haith thought his young team would display more of throughout the season.
So the question now becomes: Was it just a one-game deal? Or, are we going to see this style of play from the Canes moving forward? Is DeQuan Jones going to go back into a shell? Are Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble going to continue to control the paint with their size and athleticism?
The biggest thing injured senior Dwayne Collins said has been lacking this year for some of the young guys has been establishing consistent confidence. At times, he says, they don't realize how talented they are. "With DJ it's all about his confidence," Collins said. "When he has confidence, he can do anything. [Thursday] He just played free. He's a great player. But a lot of times he playes with a lot on his mind."
"I've been telling Reggie he's a beast forever. But sometimes, he doesn't believe it."
The Canes have won first round ACC games a few times before. This is the fourth time in six seasons UM has won a first round game at the tournament. But long post season runs aren't something the Hurricanes are known for. Miami has never won more than one conference tournament game in a season and reached the semifinal round just twice in the Big East (1999, 2000).
So, if the Canes win today it won't just be a great step forward for this team, but for the program, too.
Here are today's projected starting lineups...
UM (19-12) Yr. Stats
C Reggie Johnson, 6-10, 295 R-Fr. 6.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 12.7 mpg
F Julian Gamble, 6-9, 255 R-So. 3.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.8 bpg
F DeQuan Jones, 6-6 219 So. 5.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.5 bpg
G James Dews, 6-4, 213 Sr. 11.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.6 apg
G Durand Scott, 6-3, 195 Fr. 9.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.5 apg
Virginia Tech (23-7) Yr. Stats
C Victor Davila, 6-8, 245 So. 5.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 0.8 bpg
F Jeff Allen, 6-7, 230 Jr. 12.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.8 spg
F Terrell Bell, 6-6, 205 Jr. 5.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.1 bpg
G Malcolm Delaney, 6-3, 190 Jr. 20.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.1 apg
G Dorenzo Hudson, 6-5, 220 Jr. 14.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 apg
Feel free to follow my in game updates on Twitter. The game will be televised locally on ESPN2 and or Raycom.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Frank Haith hasn't come out and said it yet (I'm not sure he ever will considering he never did it for Jack McClinton). But the University of Miami basketball team you will see on the floor this afternoon in the ACC Tournament (and over the next couple seasons) belongs to a new leader: freshman Durand Scott.
It wasn't supposed to happen this quickly. Dwayne Collins, James Dews and Malcolm Grant were supposed to be the leaders of this team this time of year. But it's clear the future is now. Scott, the first UM player named to the ACC All-Rookie Team, has been given the green light to take over the team the last month.
He's responded with 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 six assists over the Canes' last five games. It's not by accident that the team has looked better because of it, coming close to beating Florida State and nearly rallying UM from an 18-point deficit at North Carolina with 16 of his season-high 29 points in the second half.
"There's no question Durand Scott is a guy players across the country are looking saying man, I'd like to play with him," Haith said last week.
"He's a guy I think can attract other great players because he's a selfless player, but also a very good player. He's the kind of guy that will do whatever he has to do to win. When you look at his play and some of our other young guys, you got to feel like the future is bright. To go on that stage at North Carolina and put up the type of game he had at North Carolina, for that matter the game he had against Duke, you don't see many freshmen do that. That tells you right there he has a chance to be a special player."
A special player and perhaps the only big chip UM has left at the moment. If the Canes are going to win any more games this season and have a shot at the NIT (UM might have to win two games here to even be considered), it's clear Scott is going to have to lead them there.
> For updates throughout today's game against Wake Forest follow me on Twitter.
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Is it just me or did Wednesday's news regarding five-star defensive back Latwan Anderson feel like the first big victory in recruiting for the University of Miami in a while?
I'm not trying to put a negative spin on it. It's great the Canes were able to land a top-notch recruit they weren't supposed to get. But ever since Jacory Harris and those other guys from Miami Northwestern came in as part of ESPN's No. 1 recruiting class in 2008, the public perception has been the Canes have missed out on most of the big-time kids they really wanted.
You remember the names and the stories. It started with Patrick Johnson (now Patrick Peterson) dumping the Canes for LSU. Then, there was Matt Patchan, son of a former Cane, choosing the Gators over UM and talking trash about his dad's program. A year later, Kayvon Webster, Defensive player of the Year in Miami-Dade, switched from the Canes for USF on National Signing Day. Then, there was the whole Bryce Brown fiasco, which ended with him choosing Tennessee a few weeks after NSD. This year, Canes fans crossed their fingers for Seantrel Henderson and Ivan McCartney. Again, UM came up short.
Today, though, was a good day for UM. Anderson, a big-time talent in Ohio State's backyard, basically fell into the Canes' lap. Before Signing Day, he wasn't really even on the Canes radar. A U.S. Army All-American, he picked West Virginia on national TV and was all set to go there. Now, he's headed to UM without even being really recruited by UM coach Randy Shannon and his staff.
The general response I gathered from fans since the news broke Wednesday morning was "it's about time." But is it really fair to say that? Last month, when the Canes wrapped up their 2010 signing class, the overall consensus from experts was that Miami underachieved. The thought was the Canes were supposed to do better with all of the talent available in their backyard.
The truth is, nothing burns Shannon more than the perception he and his staff aren't doing their jobs as good as they should be doing it when it comes to recruiting in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. In his eyes, there have been a lot of great recruiting days since Jacory and company picked The U.
LUNCH WITH RANDY... Three weeks ago, I got a chance to go out to lunch with Shannon. There were no tape recorders, no note pads. It was just two guys born and raised in Miami talking about the college football program they've been around (In my case, from a seat far away from the field for most of it). The hour and half I spent with Shannon was about as close as I've been able to get to him in the four years since I've been covering the team.
Shannon, guarded by nature, doesn't trust the media one bit. He thinks most of us don't do a good enough job investigating anything before we write it. But he also doesn't think he needs to volunteer any information he doesn't have to. This lunch -- in part -- was for us to get a better feel for where we come from, where our opinions are formed.
In this case, Shannon doesn't want the idea to get out there that he's bashing programs in his backyard. So you won't ever read or hear any quotes from him saying high school programs are failing him. But the truth is he's worried about the way many local high school programs are being run these days.
He says there are many issues that has made recruiting local players to UM a lot tougher than before. At the top of the list: Academic failure (test scores or low GPAs) and arrest records. The old UM might have been to take a chance those kids. But not this one run under President Donna Shalala.
Then, there is the issue of individuals (street agents/assistant coaches) who are making deals (either for money or employment) with other colleges to send players away. On top of that, there are a few high school coaches for one reason or the other who have agendas against him and the program (in some cases because Shannon didn't hire them as assistants he was named UM's coach). Add it all up, and the field of high-end available recruits available to UM has shrunk.
Shannon says he isn't asking for pity. He says he just thinks there needs to be a better understanding of why UM ultimately might not recruit a certain player or end up with them on National Signing Day. Ultimately, he says, every player now at UM has gone through the recruiting ringer (background checks, academic checks, character checks). Ultimately, he says, he is the final person to sign off on any written scholarship offer the program hands out. That whole Todd Chandler fiasco? Consider it one of a few mistakes by a now former assistant. But we know through Miami Northwestern coach Billy Rolle that Chandler was never given a written offer.
Shannon says he is trying to help as many local coaches (many who are young and replacing legends) as he can better understand their responsibilities. He said he talks to them about image (he's scolded several local coaches for wearing bagging jeans and sunglasses on the sideline), instilling discipline (he says not enough suspend their best players for breaking the rules or missing practice) and not falling prey to recruiting promises (some high school coaches he says have been burned by college programs who promise they'll give them a job in exchange for a recruit). But it's hard sometimes, he says, to get through to them.
Whether you are a Shannon supporter or not, you still have to respect the fact the position he was put in wasn't easy. The Canes were well on the way to going in reverse by the time he took the steering wheel. Little by little he's made the program better than it was when he took it over. Nobody can argue that there isn't more talent on this team here now than when got it. Miami has a chance in 2010 to be really good again. And the bottomline is Latwan Anderson would not have picked UM if he didn't like the direction the program is headed in.
A FEW MORE TIDBITS...
> I didn't make it up in time to catch the Canes basketball team practice at the Greensboro Coliseum, but I'll be at Thursday's ACC Tournament game against Wake Forest. I'll be sending updates on Twitter throughout the game. Our Michelle Kaufman wrote about the Canes' uphill battle coming into the tournament.
> Here is a highlight video I found on Latwan Anderson on YouTube.
When the University of Miami men's basketball team started the season 15-1 it seemed inevitable the Canes would reach the 20 win plateau. Now, with only one regular season game left to play Saturday afternoon against Florida State at the BankUnited Center, all coach Frank Haith is hoping for is that his team still gets there.
Miami (18-11, 4-11 ACC) hasn't had the type of second half it was hoping for. But with a win Saturday against the Seminoles and a win Thursday in the first round of the ACC Tournament, UM will reach 20 wins -- likely good enough to earn a second straight NIT berth. And for Haith, who said his team shouldn't have lost at home to Boston College and North Carolina State, that would be good enough.
"I haven't had a chance to reevaluate the whole season. But I felt like if we would have gotten to seven league wins, that would have been awesome for these guys," said Haith, who said before the season he thought his team could finish in the top half of the ACC.
"We lost a whole lot with Jimmy Graham. You realize what those guys meant to your program as you go through the season. Jack McClinton, Jimmy Graham, Brian Asbury, Lance Hurdle, they were here for a long time. They won a lot of games and played in a lot of games. With that said, we're trying to build a program here. You want to have consistency, some winning ways. If we would have gotten to seven wins, that would have been awesome for me and the program to say we've been able to sustain winning, losing great players. Because you're going to take a dip. There's no way you're not going to take a dip when you lose guys that meant so much to your program... With that said, we still have an opportunity to get to where we want to be."
That would be the post-season for the third consecutive season -- and for the fifth time in Haith's six seasons as coach. Going to the postseason three years in a row is a rare feat at UM. It's only happened one other time when UM made it six seasons in a row from 1996 to 2002 -- the first four under Leonard Hamilton and the last two under Perry Clark.
"That's would be a pretty nice little deal for [our seniors]," Haith said. "I think for our program, you look at the history of our program and the tradition of our program, that's a nice little feat."
UM will honor its three seniors -- guard James Dews and forwards Dwayne Collins and Cyrus McGowan -- before Saturday's game. Haith said he doesn't know if Collins, who suffered a stress reaction in his leg, will play. Haith talked a little about both Collins and Dews Friday and what they've meant to the program.
"His freshman year, we wanted him to be a defensive stopper, something he probably hadn't had to do his whole career," Haith said. "But it was what the team needed and he was willing to do. His sophomore year he was a part of the team that went to the NCAA Tournament and was a critical member of that team, came back his junior year and we changed his role a little bit there. He's a guy who went through role changes his whole career. Now, he's been one of the leading scorers and been asked to to be a leader. There's no question James has been a special player for us and a special player for me to coach. You've seen his growth over four years. He's been not only a valuable player, but a valuable person on this team."
Collins, a player Haith pushed to attend NBA camps last year, hasn't had the type of senior season Haith was hoping for. But he said the 6-8, 241-pound forward has had to endure a lot during career.
"He was kind of thrown to the wolves as a freshman," Haith said. "We had a lot of injuries that year and Dwayne was asked to do so much early in his career. We lost Jimmy Graham, Ray Hicks, Anthony King for about nine games and he was the only post player we had and he had to play with a walk-on and a three-man at the other post position. To see him grow from that to where he is today is great."
Despite a few disappointments this season, Haith said he feels good about the direction of the program. He talked a lot about the growth of freshman Durand Scott and how he and redshirt sophomore Malcolm Grant will be a solid foundation heading into next season.
"We only have one senior on our team next year, that's Adrian Thomas," Haith said. "I'd be encouraged by what I see if I'm a fan and what's on tap for this program the next couple years."
> The Sean Taylor Foundation will host a celebrity All-Star Game Saturday at 3 p.m. at St. Thomas University to raise money for local youth programs. For more info, click here.
Jack McClinton has a feeling something special is going to happen tonight when the Hurricanes host sixth-ranked Duke at BankUnited Center.
"For some reason, I think we’re going to win today," the two-time All-ACC selection said Wednesday afternoon, two years after he was at the heart of UM's first win over the Blue Devils in 45 years. "Duke’s a great program, but when you play against a better team you always get up for it. As much as people don’t think we can do it, I believe we’re going to pull it off today."
The Hurricanes (17-8, 3-8 ACC) will need a special effort to knock off the Blue Devils (21-4, 9-2 ACC). But win or lose, it will still be a special night for McClinton and die-hard Hurricanes basketball fans. At halftime, McClinton's No. 33 will be raised to the basketball arena's rafters along with Don Curnutt (1967-70) and the late Dick Hickox (1958-61). Only two other UM players have received that honor before Wednesday: Rick Barry (1962-65) and Tim James (1995-99).
McClinton, just one year removed from wearing the orange and green, said it is an honor just to be honored.
"It definitely means a lot, especially to me and my family," said McClinton, who led UM in scoring for three seasons (2006-2009) and left the program as its most prolific three-point shooter."Having my name with these great players at the University of Miami, it’s just a great blessing to be here and a blessing having it happen so fast. I met Mr. Barry yesterday. He’s a legend man. It’s like talking to Jordan. It was just a great honor to meet him."
Barry, named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, would love to see McClinton follow his footsteps as a pro. But Jack has work to do. A second round pick by the San Antonio Spurs last June, McClinton was unable to land a roster spot with the Spurs or Minnesota Timberwolves and signed with the Aliaga Petkim in the Turkish Basketball League, where he's been since the season began Oct. 17.
Little by little, McClinton says, he's adapted to the European game, where zone defenses "stress getting your fundamentals down."
"Things are going well," said McClinton, who ranks 12th in scoring (16.28 ppg) and is averaging 3.3 assists while shooting 32.3 percent from three-point range for an 8-11 team. "I had nine assists last game. I feel like I'm really transferring my game over there. I’m really becoming a total player. I’ve learned how to read the defense more, be a better point guard. It’s definitely helped my game for sure."
Living overseas, McClinton says, has its perks. Aliaga, located on the west coast of Turkey, is a small town of about 44,000 people -- most who love basketball and have grown to love McClinton. The tough part? No fast food.
"There's been a lot of different things that have happened that I haven't gotten used to yet," McClinton said. "The fans are great, but they're tough. They'll throw stuff on the court if they're not happy. But other than that, the biggest thing I miss is being able to go to McDonald's whenever I want."
McClinton, who lives in a small apartment, said he keeps up with his former team when he isn't playing or practicing and watches Canes games online. Many times during games, he'll broadcast his thoughts on Twitter. Of his former teammates, whom he keeps in contact through email and AOL instant message, McClinton said he communicates most often with point guard Malcolm Grant.
"They're a young team man," McClinton said. "Winning on the road in the ACC isn't easy. But if you look at their home record, it's real good. I tell Malcolm all the time he’s doing a great job."
> The ACC released its All-Academic football team Wednesday and the Canes had two players among the 42 selected: tight end Jimmy Graham and offensive lineman Matt Pipho. To be eligible for consideration, a player must have earned a 3.00 grade point average for the previous semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during his academic career. All 12 ACC schools were represented by at least one selection on the team. The ACC has selected an ACC All-Academic Football team every year since 1954.
> It was Baseball Media Day on Wednesday. I'll have a few interviews and notes to post in the coming days.
> Spring football practice begins next week. All regular practices are closed to the public and the media only get to see the first 15 minutes of stretching. Here is the complete practice schedule (all practice times are at 3 p.m. unless noted):
- Tuesday, Feb. 23
- Wednesday, Feb. 24
- Friday, Feb. 26
- Saturday, Feb. 27 (10 a.m.)
- Tuesday, March 2
- Wednesday, March 3
- Friday, March 5
- Saturday, March 6 (10 a.m.)
- Tuesday, March 9
- Wednesday, March 10
- Thursday, March 11 (scrimmage)
- SPRING BREAK MARCH 14-21
- Tuesday, March 23
- Wednesday, March 24
- Friday, March 26
- Saturday, March 27 (Spring Game - TBA)
Having a long break after a tough loss can usually hurt a team. But in this case, University of Miami basketball coach Frank Haith said Monday his team's long after last Tuesday's 79-75 loss to Boston College might be just what his team needs to get jump-started going again.
"I think it was great for us," Haith said during Monday's ACC Teleconference. "We got some really good practice time in. We have a lot of guys competing for playing time. We did a lot of scrimmaging. It was good for us because we got better during the time off."
Few Hurricanes could have needed a break more than freshman point guard Durand Scott. Haith said Scott recently returned home to attend his grandmother's funeral during the break. Haith said Scott and fellow New York guard Malcolm Grant "really struggled at times" getting their teammates good shots during the 10 minute stretch Tuesday that saw Boston College erase a 17-point deficit. Haith said he would like to see Grant become more aggressive again on the offensive end.
Scott is averaging 7.6 points and only two assists a game in ACC play. He averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 assists in non-conference games. "Durand can score more and we need him to do that," Haith said. "He's very capable of doing that... Hopefully, we can see Durand in terms of what we saw earlier in the year when he was aggressive on both ends of the court."
A FEW MORE TIDBITS...
- Haith said he expects senior Adrian Thomas to see starter minutes at small forward and power forward. Thomas replaced sophomore DeQuan Jones in the starting lineup against Boston College. Jones has only played a combined 34 minutes (20 against Virginia Tech) in his last four games.
- Look for redshirt freshman Reggie Johnson to continue to get more chances to score in the post. Johnson, who has started the last two games, fell just one rebound shy of his first career double-double with a career-high 15 points and nine rebounds. Haith said Johnson has a nice touch around the basket. Believe it or not, he's also the team's best free throw shooter at nearly 77 percent.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. -- Checking in before the 23rd-ranked Canes (15-2, 1-2 ACC) take on the Cavaliers (10-4, 2-0 ACC) here at John Paul Jones Arena. This is without question the nicest arena in the ACC.
I'll provide some thoughts and observations as this one goes along. Feel free to follow on Twitter. The game is being televised on ESPNU.
> Reggie Johnson in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Looks like Haith likes the way he's playing lately.
> Another slow start for Frank Haith's basketball team. Virginia jumps out to a quick 6-0 lead with 18:14 left
> Canes started the game 0-for-8 before Adrian Thomas drilled a three-pointer with 14:03 left to make it 12-4 Virginia; Frank Haith has already played 11 players in this game.
> Canes go into the half trailing 33-21. They shot 5 of 23 from the field in the first half and were 1 of 9 from 3pt range. UM shot 7 of 26 at Virginia Tech Wednesday night. So, this is even worse.