Saturday afternoon UM report: Canes' NCAA Tourney chances take blow; Two 4-star d-linemen looking to make impact
North Carolina badly damaged UM’s NCAA Tournament chances today by closing the game on a 23-14 run to beat the Hurricanes, 73-64, dropping the Canes to 18-11 and 8-8.
The Hurricanes shot just 42 percent, including 6 for 24 on threes, committed 13 turnovers and were outrebounded 42-29. That was a recipe for failure against the 15th ranked Tar Heels, who were steaming from a home loss to North Carolina State.
So the Hurricanes have no margin for error now. Jim Larranaga said after the game today that he believes UM must win Wednesday at Pittsburgh, Sunday at Virginia Tech and win two games in the ACC Tournament in order to earn an invitation to NCAA Tournament.
"We've put ourselves in a very tough situation to make the dance," Larranaga said.
If UM splits its final two conference games, it likely would need to make the ACC Tournament championship game, at the very least, to have a real shot at being invited to NCAA Tournament.
Angel Rodriguez played only three minutes because of a wrist injury (a sprain) sustained Wednesday when he took a charge against FSU. "We missed Angel's leadership; he does a lot of other things for us," Larranaga said.
Manu Lecomte started at point guard and shot 3 for 9, finishing with 10 points, four assists and three turnovers.
Sheldon McClellan scored 11 points (4 for 10 from the field) and was in foul trouble throughout the second half.
Tonye Jekiri (six points, eight rebounds) didn’t make as much of an impact as he usually has this season. Also hurtful: Davon Reed shot 1 for 8.
The Hurricanes relied a lot on newcomers down the stretch --– Ivan Cruz Uceda (11 points) Omar Sherman (who had six points but airballed a three during a key stretch late in the game) and Da’Quan Newton (who had some good moments and finished with 10 points, shooting 5 for 7).
Ultimately, UM didn’t have enough. And so a season that started with such promise is now very much on life support.... UM's regular-season home finale was a sellout today (7972).
Considering the defensive line hasn’t exactly been a strength for the University of Miami football team in recent years, it’s understandable that ballyhooed four-star recruits Demetrius Jackson and Jelani Hamilton weren’t pleased when they were told they would be redshirted last season.
Both spoke Saturday about how the developmental year helped them, and UM is hoping they’ll blossom this fall.
Jackson, a standout at Booker T. Washington, and Hamilton --- a Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas alum --- stand at different stages of their UM careers.
Jackson still has four years of eligibility remaining, and UM coaches expect a formidable rotation at defensive end with Al Quadin Muhammad, Chad Thomas (Jackson’s high school teammate), Ufomba Kalamu, Trent Harris and Hamilton.
Conversely, Hamilton has only two seasons of eligibility remaining, and his redshirt season was unexpected because he played a limited role the previous two years, producing just six tackles as a freshman and four as a sophomore.
“I looked at it as any young, naïve player would,” Hamilton said of redshirting. “I didn’t like it at first. But I saw advantages. I saw it as a chance to develop my lower body. I’m finally healthy. It’s the best I’ve ever felt. My leg is not stinging when I make a tackle.”
Hamilton had an ACL injury as a senior in high school and has undergone knee surgery twice more at UM, including a clean-up procedure a month ago.
Now working at both defensive end and tackle, Hamilton said he’s more responsive to coaching than when he arrived at UM rated by Rivals.com as the ninth-best defensive end in the 2012 class and No. 106 recruit overall.
He said when coaches criticized him previously, “I remember I used to shut down a lot in my freshman year. But not any more.
“When I started off here, I wasn’t very good taking coaching. Some of the things we did here, my freshman year, I was like, ‘Dang, we did that in high school.’ When coaches asked me to do something, I was like, ‘I did this before.’ That was the wrong thing to do. I’m just trying to learn from that experience,… trying to get the coaches’ confidence and trust.”
Jackson, rated by rivals.com as the 17th best defensive end in the 2014 class, had 12 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries as a senior at Booker T. and “was really impressive on [UM’s] scout team” last fall, defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said.
Jackson, who picked UM over Arkansas and Texas, said redshirting “was frustrating at first” but NFL-bound left tackle Ereck Flowers assured him last year that “my day will come.”
In retrospect, Jackson said be benefitted from redshirting. He has raised his weight from 215 to 247, said he’s “way better” stopping the run than a year ago and his instincts are better.
He said UM’s talented young defensive ends spoke last week about the impact they can make over the next few years: “We can all bring something to the game…. Me with my strength and knocking down balls.”
### UM offensive line coach Art Kehoe, the only coach who spoke to reporters Saturday, said four possibilities have emerged at left tackle: KC McDermott (still limited by knee surgery but plans to return to full workouts later this spring), Sonny Odogwu, Trevor Darling and Taylor Gadbois, who’s out for the spring after knee surgery.
Kehoe mentioned Darling and early enrollee Jahair Jones as options at right tackle.
Danny Isidora returns as the starting right guard, and Nick Linder is considered the favorite at center.
### Safety Deon Bush said cornerback Antonio Crawford’s decision to transfer “really hurts. Antonio is a great player.”
### UM hosted about 50 prospects at Junior Day, and Miami Central Class of 2017 linebacker Waynmon Steed orally committed, according to canesport.com.
### Brad Kaaya, who feels comfortable in the shotgun, said he’s working this spring on playing under center and executing play action in those sets.
### Thomas batted down a pass and had a sack during Saturday's practice.
### Trayone Gray was back at practice after missing two sessions because of academic issues… Tracy Howard, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, did not participate.