July 03, 2014

Six former Canes to compete in NBA Summer League; Perryman on CFPA watch list

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.

June 27, 2014

Former Krop standout, Niagra forward Joe Thomas signs financial aid agreement to play for Canes

Joe Thomas, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward, has signed a financial aid agreement to play for the Hurricanes, coach Jim Larrañaga announced Friday.
 
"Joe joins us at the perfect time," Larrañaga said in a statement released by the school. "We needed a front court player with experience and a fifth-year senior was exactly what my staff and I hoped for. He provides us with some size and strength and rebounding toughness."
 
Thomas, a fifth-year transfer from Niagara University,  will have one year of eligibility with the Hurricanes, beginning immediately. At UM, Thomas will be reunited with former Miami Krop High  teammate and point guard Angel Rodriguez.
 
Thomas averaged 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 30 games last year during his redshirt junior season at Niagara. He led the Purple Eagles in blocks, and his 54.8 field goal percentage was second-best on the squad.  

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.

February 18, 2014

Season of challenges continues for UM, Larranaga

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.”

Forward James Kelly suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules

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.

October 22, 2013

Statements from Golden, Larranaga on NCAA news.

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.”

Official announcement from NCAA: 9 scholarships over 3 years for football, no more post-season bans

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.

September 05, 2013

Larranaga has contract extended through 2022

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.”

August 28, 2013

Former Hurricane hoops star Dequan Jones takes shot at NCAA after Manziel ruling

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 12.5.2.1 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.

June 28, 2013

Canes land commitment from little known Booker T. Washington defensive end with plenty of athleticism

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.

February 11, 2013

Canes climb to highest point ever (No. 3) in AP poll; What are fair expectations now?

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).

What are fair expectations for Miami's men's basketball program this season?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

January 28, 2013

UM men's hoops team jumps up 11 spots to 14th in AP poll -- highest ranking since 2002; Scott named ACC Player of Week

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.

January 23, 2013

Mike James gets a late invite to Saturday's Senior Bowl

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.

COUPLE ITEMS

> 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.

January 22, 2013

NCAA Bylaw Blog writer John Infante talks positives, negatives for UM with latest developments

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."

February 08, 2012

Reggie Johnson is the reason Canes have rallied to get in March Madness discussion

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.

Reggie JohnsonYou could give the award to Durand Scott because he leads the team in scoring (13.1 points per game), assists (3.4) and minutes (34.9) and is averaging five rebounds a game.

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."

MORE TIDBITS

> 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."

August 26, 2011

PG Shane Larkin signs, but must sit; Canes unveil baseball class

CORAL GABLES -- We interrupt your Hurricanes football frenzy for news on the baseball and basketball teams. First hoops.

Shane Larkin Shane Larkin, a transfer from DePaul, officially signed with UM Friday and is enrolled in classes, but can't play this season per NCAA transfer rules.

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.

August 24, 2011

UM men's hoops schedule released; Canes to face eight NCAA tournament teams from 2011

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.

August 23, 2011

UM's frontcourt grows thinner after Gamble tears ACL, ruled out for season

Jim Larranaga's thinning front court just took another big hit.

Julian Gamble 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.

July 07, 2011

UM will have Golden, players talking on WQAM Friday morning

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.

 

July 01, 2011

Reggie Johnson to miss 5-6 months with torn meniscus in right knee; Larranaga hopeful center will be back for ACC play

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 Johnson “If there's any positive way to look at it, it's better now than if it happened in December," UM coach Jim Larranaga told The Miami Herald.

"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."

June 30, 2011

Krumpos ready to prep Canes hoop team for Larranaga's demanding scramble defense

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.

Jim Larranaga "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.