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. 

May 07, 2011

After testing NBA waters, Reggie Johnson decides to return to UM

Reggie Johnson is coming back.

Reggie Johnson 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.

April 22, 2011

Larranaga brings Final Four experience to UM

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.

Jim Larranaga 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."

April 21, 2011

Report: UM targeting George Mason's Larranaga

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.

March 14, 2011

UM women enter NCAA Tourney as No. 3 seed

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.

> NCAA Tournament women's bracket

March 03, 2011

Canes sweep: Katie Meier, Shenise Johnson take home ACC Coach, Player of the Year Awards

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.

Shenise Johnson As many expected, UM junior guard Shenise Johnson and Canes coach Katie Meier were named the ACC's Women's Basketball Player and Coach of the Year Thursday morning.

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.

Katie Meier "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."

March 01, 2011

Haith says poor decision making from his point guards has hurt Canes in crunch time

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.

Frank Haith 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.

February 07, 2011

Brissett signs with UF; Canes focus on other QBs

The Miami Hurricanes' chase of Palm Beach Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett is officially over.

Tate Forcier 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.

January 21, 2011

UM hopes to end ACC road woes at NC State

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.

Malcolm Grant "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."

January 19, 2011

Canes' D. Jones breaks hand, out indefinitely

The Miami Hurricanes just got a little thinner at small forward.

DeQuan Jones 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.