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. 

January 10, 2011

UM women crack Top 25 poll at No. 22

The University of Miami women's basketball team is back in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

The Hurricanes, who have won 15 consecutive games, found themselves at No. 22 Monday afternoon following a pair of ACC road wins last week at Virginia and Virginia Tech. Last year, UM entered the poll at No. 25 for the first time since 2004 after knocking off then 13th-ranked Florida State. But they were only ranked a week after losing to then No. 8 Duke. 

The Hurricanes have been led by the three-headed monster of junior guards Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams and sophomore forward Morgan Stroman. Williams and Johnson are the top two leading scorers in the ACC averaging 19.8 and 19.1 points per game. Stroman is averaging 14.5 points.

"I'm certainly happy that our players and staff have been recognized nationally for all their hard work," UM coach Katie Meier said in a press release from the school. "I have a lot of faith and belief in our team and I am confident we will keep practicing and preparing for the ACC schedule in order to reach our goals moving forward."

UM (16-1, 2-0 ACC) returns home this week to face Clemson Friday night and Boston College on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be televised by FSN.

> When it comes to quality big men, UM's men's basketball has a rather large one in 6-10, 303-pound sophomore Reggie Johnson. But beyond Big Reg, the Canes have proven to be a bit thin. Saturday's 79-72 loss at Clemson was proof as the Tigers dominated UM on the inside with a gimpy Johnson battling bone spurs in his right foot.

UM coach Frank Haith said during Monday's ACC Teleconference he's hoping Johnson can make a quick recovery this week in time for Saturday's 6 p.m. tip-off against Boston College at BankUnited Center. Haith said Saturday Johnson didn't practice all of last week and had his foot in a walking boot.

> Latwan Anderson, a highly touted All-American cornerback from Glenville, Ohio who signed a track scholarship with the Hurricanes last year with the hopes of eventually playing football, will not be returning to the program.

Chris Freet, UM's Associate Athletic Director for Communication said Anderson, who left in December, is no longer a part of the Miami Athletics Department and will not be with UM during the spring semester.

"Latwan did not fulfill the requirements to be a student-athlete at the University of Miami," Freet said.

> Al Golden and the UM football team is expected to announce the hiring of the final two assistant coaches -- including offensive coordinator -- in the next 12 to 24 hours.

December 18, 2010

LIVE! Hurricane Hoops from Sunrise ... Miami (7-2) vs. UCF (9-0) @ BankAtlantic Center, 1 p.m.

Caneshoops George Richards here LIVE! from the BankAtlantic Center in scenic Sunrise.

It's a little chilly in here, but that's what happens sometimes when hockey meets the hardwood.

The Panthers ice is covered up and there's a basketball court. Hopefully some fans will join us. If not, we're here for you.

The first game of this Orange Bowl double-dip features Miami against the upstart UCF Knights. UCF hasn't played too many tough teams, but they did knock off the Gators. The Gator plays Frank Martin's Kansas State squad in the second game.

Anyway, the LIVE! chat is below. Just click on the play button to see the posts. If you have a question or comment, submit it and I'll approve it (as long as it's clean). That process may take a moment or two so be patient.

Let's play two!

 

November 17, 2010

UM returns from Memphis with lessons learned

The University of Miami men's basketball team got back to work Wednesday, less than 48 hours after dropping a 72-68 early morning heartbreaker at 19th-ranked Memphis. 

Malcolm Grant Coach Frank Haith said his team learned a few lessons, including the importance of hitting free throws late in the game and avoiding defensive breakdowns.

"I thought our kids played really really hard, learned a lot," Haith said. "Obviously we turned the ball over [18 times]. We had our chances to win the game there at the end. We were up [63-59] with [3:55] to go, had a couple turnovers and they converted. Then, we had a defensive breakdown. We had played great defense all game. I think they made 19 field goals [of 56 attempts]. Against our set defense, they only made nine field goals. The rest were off transition and easy buckets.

"Then, the only time we really had a major breakdown they hit it. Free throw shooting also hurt us late game. With all that said, if we make our free throws we're still able to win the game. All in all, great learning experience, great environment. Early in the year we want to play those type of games on the road against a Top 20 team. But I'm proud of our kids and how hard we fought and competed to give us a chance to win the game."

Point guard Malcolm Grant, who missed an off-balance game-tying three-point shot with three seconds left on UM's final possession, said he learned a lesson too. "I was trying to draw the foul at the end," Grant. "But I was told refs don't always make those calls at the end. So, I know from now on, shoot my regular shot instead of trying to draw a foul. But you learn from it. I missed the shot. I'll definitely remember that. It won't keep me down."

The Hurricanes (1-1) will get back on the court Friday at 7 p.m. when they host North Carolina Central (1-1) at BankUnited Center.

Haith said one thing he'd like to focus on over the next few weeks is getting Grant and Durand Scott fewer minutes in the first half and sophomore center Reggie Johnson more minutes overall. Grant is averaging 33.5 minutes a game -- up from the 24.6 he averaged a year ago. Scott is averaging 31.5 minutes -- up from 27.8.

"We haven't had a guy play those type of minutes before," Haith said. "We can give them some early rest so they aren't gassed in the end. We also have to keep Reggie in the game. Two games in a row, he's been saddled with two fouls early and only played [21] minutes [versus Memphis]. We need him to play more minutes."

Haith said N.C. Central, coming off a 7-22 season, will be "a very tough game." The Eagles, who return their top eight leading scorers, lost in overtime at Oklahoma Monday night. North Carolina Central, which is reclassifying from Division II to Division I college basketball, has a 41-game losing streak on the road.

"They're better than they were last year," Haith said. "Central is athletic, they'll change defenses. They played almost all zone against Oklahoma. In previous years, they've been a pressing team. I think we have to expect to play against both."

 

November 10, 2010

Haith: Daniels a high-flier like Diaz

The University of Miami men’s basketball team signed Bishop Daniels to a National Letter of Intent Wednesday, adding a high-flying combo guard to its roster that coach Frank Haith said reminds him of Guillermo Diaz.

Daniels, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder from Raleigh, N.C., is ranked as the 112th best recruit by Rivals.com. He averaged 13 points and five assists per game for Word of God Christian Academy (N.C.) last season -- the same school that produced first overall pick John Wall two years ago.

"He's a true combo right now, but eventually will be a point guard," Haith said. "He's coming to a team that's going to pretty much be the same team next year. So we can kind of grow him.

"The way he flies, he's like Guillermo [Diaz]. He's a really athletic player. I don't remember Guillermo in high school in terms of how good a shooter he was. But he was a great shooter when he left here. Bishop has to work to that. But he's that kind of athlete."

Daniels, who played AAU ball for the CP3 All-Stars and was also recruited by schools such as N.C. State and Purdue, is the final recruit in the Canes' 2011 signing class. The Canes, who open the season Friday night at home against Jacksonville, used their other scholarships on 6-11 center Kenny Kadji and 6-5 guard Trey McKinney-Jones, who transferred in from other programs. Both will sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules.

"We're only going to loss Adrian Thomas from this team," Haith said. "I think we're going to be in pretty good shape this year and next."

October 28, 2010

News, notes from basketball media day at UM

The University of Miami men's and women's basketball teams accomplished something last year that had never been done before: they each finished with at 20 wins in the same season. With the bulk of those teams back, expectations are high as both believe they should make it to the NCAA Tournament.

Will they get there? We'll find out in March. But here are some news and notes from Wednesday's media day in Coral Gables:

> Men's coach Frank Haith, whose team opens the exhibition season next Wednesday at home against Barry, finished 20-12 and reached the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament before losing to eventual national champion Duke.

Durand Scott "We had our media day in North Carolina last week and somebody asked me if you can have momentum carry over last year. And my answer was yeah -- if you have the bulk of your team back from last season, which we do,'' Haith said.

"I think we got a team good enough to finish in the middle of the pack. Does that mean we'll finish fifth or sixth? I don't know, we could probably second or third. I think we have a team that can finish in the upper half of this league."

> The two things Haith said he challenged talented sophomore Durand Scott to improve after last season was his role as a vocal leader and his three-point shooting (he was only 16 of 58, .276 as a freshman). It appears Scott, who attended Chris Paul's prestigious camp for guards over the summer, has done both. 

"I've seen a drastic change in Durand," junior swingman Dequan Jones said. "He's one of those kids where he was naturally born to lead. He has an ambience about him that makes you want to follow him. I think now he's really tapped into who he is and how he's going to lead the team vocally and by example. Guys are ready to rally behind him and win some games. In practice everyday he gets guys going. He's always vocal whether we're running dummy offense or playing five-on-five live. He's always talking, saying screen left or screen right. He gives you that confidence on the court that he's always there."

Haith said Scott has also already shown an improved shooting touch. He just doesn't want him to make the mistake of feeling like he has to prove it during the games, rather flash it. "Durand has to be a well-rounded, all-around player," Haith said. "The strength of his game is getting in the paint. I think it will be even more effective if he can make shots. I don’t want him to have to prove to people he’s a three-point shooter. That’s the worst thing a young player can do when they think they lack in our area and the first opportunity they get they have to prove they’re a three-point shooter. You have to do you. We had a practice the other day and Durand made three or three threes in a row. He’s definitely worked at it. It’s all about working game speed with Durand.

> There were plenty of highlights for the Canes during the summer -- trips to different parts of the world and what not. But the big highlight? When LeBron James and several NBA players (Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade) came in and spent three days playing pick-up games with the team over the summer.

"They came in here and played ball with us -- it wasn't just breaking a sweat or anything like that," forward Julian Gamble said. "They talked to us, kidded around. It was a great opportunity, once in a lifetime. These are superstar guys that get paid hundreds of millions of dollars do what they do. For them to come in there and act like one of us, showed us how they’re people too. The way they came in here how humble they were, it was really great."

Scott said he was able to steal the ball once from LeBron. Any dunks? "No," Scott said laughing. "I wish."

> Since practice started Oct. 15, Haith said guard Malcolm Grant, a 6-1, 180-pound junior who is expected to join standout sophomore Durand Scott in the starting back court, has stood out the most. "He's playing with such confidence, playing quicker,'' Haith said. "I told him to study a former player I had at Texas, D.J. Augustin. [Grant] reminds me a lot of D.J."

Haith said Grant, who lost about 10 pounds in the offseason, made his biggest strides "in terms of pace, how he can accelerate and his ability to shoot the ball."

"He's playing at a high level right now," Haith said.

> Forward Julian Gamble (6-9, 258) returned to practice Monday after sitting out a month following surgery to repair or a torn meniscus in his left knee. "It's just a process of getting back into shape, just jelling with the guys,'' said Gamble, who says he doesn't feel any discomfort in the knee. "I'm really happy to be back out there when I'm not sucking wind on the sidelines, trying to survive.''

Haith expects Gamble, who started 11 games in a row to close out the 2009 season and averaged 6.3 rebounds over his last seven starts, to be ready by the time the Hurricanes play their first road game at Memphis Nov. 15. The Tigers debuted at No. 19 in the preseason AP poll.

> Junior swingman Dequan Jones has been rather unspectacular most of his career despite coming to UM as one of the most highly touted recruits Haith has brought in. Last year, he averaged 5.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and had just 15 steals and 16 blocks in 20 starts. But his strong showing at the ACC tournament, when he averaged 11.7 points, has Haith optimistic about Jones' future.

Jones said he's continued to work hard in the offseason on his jump shot, putting up 500 to 600 shots a day after practice when he's already tired. Jones said he wouldn't leave the court until he's done making at least 300. "Jump shooting has been a big thing for me in the offseason," Jones said. "Most people come in at different times to shoot. When you shoot after practice, when your body is tired, that's more like a game situation."

> Freshman forward Raphael Akpejiori (6-8, 229), who sustained a stress reaction in his foot when practice first began on Oct. 15, is being closely monitored said Haith. As for his play, Haith said: "He is relentless on the court. I love that about him. Compared to say Dwayne Collins at the same stage, he’s got more skill set than Dwayne does. Dwayne was very raw as a freshman. [Akpejiori] has good low post moves. He has really tremendous instincts around the basket in terms of keeping balls alive. He’s not afraid of contact. He even gave the old [Dikembe] Mutombo move the other day at practice. He has all the things I love in terms of energy and enthusiasm."

> Haith said redshirt freshman forward Donnavan Kirk (6-9, 227) will definitely be in the rotation this season and play quite a bit. "He gives us athleticism in the post,'' Haith said. "He's a pretty good skill [player] too. He can make a shot 17-feet in. I think he'll be a three-point shooter before his career is over. He's a guy that's not allergic to working."

Reggie Johnson > At 6-10 and athletic 303-pounds, sophomore center Reggie Johnson can be a pretty intimidating presence on the basketball court. But could you picture him wearing shoulder pads, a helmet and standing side by side with 6-8, 355-pound freshman tackle Seantrel Henderson?

Apparently, Hurricanes football coach Randy Shannon already has. Johnson, who held court for about 20 minutes with reporters (telling funny stories about his offseason trip to China and how he tripped and fell during his tour of the Great Wall), said Shannon has joked with him in the past about coming out for football.

"Coach always says, `Hey, big fella, come on out to the football field. You saw Jimmy Graham, right? Look where he is now: Making millions,'" Johnson said. "I'm like, `Yes, sir.'"

Johnson, who impressed at last year's ACC Tournament averaging 13.7 points, eight rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in earning Second Team all-tournament honors, probably won't ever have to do it. His basketball talents are already drawing the attention of NBA scouts. But would he try football if hoops didn't work out? "Hopefully I don't have to; I want to stick with basketball," Johnson said. "[But] If it comes about I think I would. It could be [an option]."

Johnson of course would have to get over one big issue: his fear of Shannon. "I'm afraid of coach Shannon for no reason, I don't know why," Johnson said. "He walks up, comes to my class - and even though he's not checking on me - I straighten up, raise my hand, pay attention. I can't explain it."

> Haith said Dwayne Collins, drafted 60th overall by the Suns last June, is back home in Miami. Collins was playing in the Italian basketball league top level for Pallacanestro Varese. Former Canes Jack McClinton, Rob Hite and Brian Asbury are all playing in Israel. Haith said last he heard Guillermo Diaz was playing in Puerto Rico and Anthony King was in Germany. 

> Women's coach Katie Meier, whose team is bringing back its top two scorers in Shenise "Moe Moe" Johnson and Riquna "Bay Bay" Williams from a 22-14 season which ended with a runner-up in the NIT, said the biggest improvement her team has made is in the backcourt.

"The difference between this year and last year will be that when the game is on the line and there is four minutes left in the game, [Johnson and Williams] won't have played 34 minutes already and try to win the game when they're completely exhausted,'' Meier said. "There is a lot on those two kids and in end of the game situations they were pretty much spent. It's my job as a coach to give them the eight minute media rest, plus a couple more minutes in the second half so when its time to bring their A-game in the last two minutes of the game, they can do that."

> Freshman guard Krystal Saunders, a 5-8 standout from South Broward High, is one of the new additions Meier is most excited about. She said Saunders' scoring ability … particularly from three-point range -- should help spread the floor even more for Johnson and Williams to penetrate.

"Her style and our style is a great marriage," Meier said. "She's really showing up in practice."