Category: Miami - Basketball Junkie
Too much basketball for things like editing, paragraphs, complete sentences or even coherent thoughts. But as we get to know these teams and players who will inhabit our brains for the next several months, I've certainly got some thoughts on what's going down. So here are at least some of them, on a game-by-game basis.

Hampton @ Wake Forest

--The new ESPNU open for college basketball is horrible. Just some bad local public access looking stuff.
--There are some pieces here for the Deacs, but the lack of a PG will kill this team.
--Walker is a great shotblocker, but his offensive game lags far behind.
--I suppose Clark is the best option at point for Wake, but he isn’t meant to be there. Harris has got to be the go-to scorer for the Deacs, and I think he is better off the ball. He's probably better than Clark at the point (though neither is good), but he is needed more as a scorer than as a distributor.
--Neither team can make a FT to save their lives.
--Wake 63-56, survive a scare from Hampton.
--Pellum probably gunned the Pirates out of the game (6/22 FGA), but Funches was fun to watch.

--McKie is something else, 21pts, 8 rebs.
--No Deac w/ more than 2 assists, 3 w/ more than 2 TOs. 19 total TOs for Wake.

Siena @ Minnesota
--My goodness, what a start to this game, nobody missing. We’re on pace for like a 150-130 game after 4min. After 8min, Siena’s pace has slowed to just 125pts, shooting 77% from field.
--Jackson has 14 in the first 8 min, and the amazing thing is that a lot of those were on Nolen, a first-rate defensive guard.
--Jackson is spectacular.
--Minnesota big run to close the half, 17-7, get back within a point.
--I think this Minnesota could be a team that has many different leading scorers/go-to guys, depending on the night.
--Siena scores 25 in first 8 min, then 24 in the next 26.
--Minnesota is for real: excellent athleticism, excellent rebounders, balanced defense all around, shooters, ballhandlers, and all this w/o Joseph.
--Rossiter at least three travels on the night, Siena with a ton of turnovers.
--This maybe isn’t as talented a Siena team as we’ve seen the past 2-3 years, but there are some serious parts here (Jackson, Rossiter, Brookins, Anosike, Griffin, Wignot) and they should be near the top of the MAAC.
--Brookins comes out of nowhere down the stretch to catch fire, but too much of a drought in the middle of the game.
--Minnesota 76-69 final.
--Jackson 29, Brookins 12 for the Saints, but 24 TOs for the team.
--Minnesota balanced scoring: Hoffarber 16, Sampson 13, Hollins 12, Mbakwe 10 plus 11 rebounds.
--Minn 30 FTs, Siena 15.

Pepperdine @ UCLA
--In the first half I’m having flashback to last year’s CSUF/UCLA abortion. UCLA still struggling against the zone, the point guard situation still isn’t excellent, but they’re a more talented team this year.
--And Jerime Anderson still sucks.
--KeionBell is not meant to play point. He’s not good at it, and it limits his effectiveness in the offense and turns the team into little more than a series of 1-on-1 moves. --Nelson’s block at the start of the 2nd half is beautiful.
--Josh Smith is disturbingly earthbound.
--UCLA big run at end of first/start of second.
--Howland with his run-breaking timeouts back for another season.
--Final UCLA 79-69, score closer than the game, Bruins impressive in 2nd half.
--26-2 run for Bruins wrapped around halftime is the difference, but maybe the biggest story is the ankle injury to Lee early in the game that kept him out of the final 34 minutes and will keep him out of Tuesday’s NIT Quarterfinal matchup with Pacific.
--Bell 24 unimpressive points, just two assists.
--Nelson 20/11, Honeycutt 16, Smith/Jones 13.
--UCLA 21 assists, 13 TO. Pepp 18 TO, 10 assists.

Miami @ Memphis
--I know Kendrick is a very good player, but Pastner definitely had the luxury to let him leave. This team has plenty of talent at the guard spot.
--Unbelievably entertaining albeit sloppy back-and-forth first half.
--Aside from Johnson, Hurricanes don’t have much offensive punch in frontcourt. Kirk and his nice midrange jumper may earn a spot in the starting lineup.
--Dequan Jones has just never added anything beyond his athleticism. My notes on this kid from his freshman year are just filled with exclamation points. Now he just bores me.
--Miami is definitely at its best when it works inside out (or more to the point, just inside). Johnson is incredibly efficient, especially when fresh.
--Memphis is an immature team with some absolutely terrible body language at times: players sagging their shoulders, rolling their eyes, at both ref calls and poor plays by teammates. This does not immediately look like a team with great chemistry.
--Miami guards definitely settled down for a stretch, played under control and they got right back into it, and then in the last minute or two, both Grant and Scott have terribly out of control plays.
--After the first time seeing these incarnations of these teams play, I’m not sure how good either of these teams are. They’ll both get better, but they both certainly need to get better.
--Final score 72-68 Memphis.
--Jackson 17, Carmouche 13, Witherspoon 12, Antonio Barton 10.
--Scott 20, Grant 18, (a combined 10/27 and eight turnovers for those two), Johnson 12 points, 12 rebounds.
--5 assists for Miami on 20 field goals, Memphis 10 assists on 19 field goals.
--Teams a combined 7/41 from beyond the arc.
--Entertaining, but sloppy.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Duke
  2. Florida State
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. North Carolina
  5. Maryland
  6. North Carolina State
  7. Clemson
  8. Wake Forest
  9. Boston College
  10. Virginia
  11. Georgia Tech
  12. Miami
With Singler back, Duke is clearly the favorite in the conference and the team to beat, all alone in the top tier of the conference. Next, I’d put Florida State (and note, as of 4/21 when I’m writing this, Solomon Alabi has not yet declared for the NBA draft), Virginia Tech and North Carolina in the second tier, where each would need something very special to happen for them to challenge Duke at the top . The next group of five teams will all challenge for tournament bids, with those teams that finish at the top of the tier getting in, those in the middle sweating it out on Selection Sunday, and those at the bottom NIT bound. Of course, if a 96-team tournament happens, all of those teams get in. And, probably, a team or two from the bottom tier of teams (Virginia, Georgia Tech and Miami) gets in as well under that scenario, while in reasonable-land, where the NCAA tournament is still only 64 teams, all three teams in the bottom tier wrap up their seasons when they get eliminated from the ACC tournament, and two of those three team’s coaches start polishing their resumes.

All-ACC First Team
G Malcolm Delaney, Sr, Virginia Tech
G Nolan Smith, Sr, Duke
F Kyle Singler, Sr, Duke
F Harrison Barnes, Fr, North Carolina
C Solomon Alabi, Jr, Florida State

All-ACC Second Team
G Dorenzo Hudson, Sr, Virginia Tech
G Kyrie Irving, Fr, Duke
F Chris Singleton, Jr, Florida State
F Tracy Smith, Sr, North Carolina State
C Jordan Williams, So, Maryland

All-Freshman Team
G Kyrie Irving, Duke
G Ian Miller, Florida State
F Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
F James Johnson, Virginia
C Carson Desrosiers, Wake Forest

The Hurricanes suffered through an odd season in 09-10: winning 15 of their first 16 games against middling opposition, then losing 11 of their last 14 regular season games, only to catch lightning in a bottle in the first couple rounds of the ACC Tournament before eventually having their season ended by the eventual national champion after a tough battle. The bright side of the down season was the development of their younger players, with center Reginald Johnson in particular taking some serious strides late in the season. Highlight-reel forward Dequan Jones will likely join Johnson in the starting lineup with either Adrian Thomas or perhaps Julian Gamble rounding out the front-line. Head coach Frank Haith has a couple recruits coming in to provide some depth in the frontcourt in center Raphael Akpejiori and forward Erik Swoope.

In the backcourt, Durand Scott had a decent freshman season but will need to improve his range and take better care of the ball in the future. Scott should start alongside Malcolm Grant to make a pretty explosive backcourt for the Hurricanes, with sophomore Garrius Adams and incoming freshman Rion Brown providing depth.

This ‘Cane team is still a long way from being able to challenge for an ACC title, but they have good young talent to build around and should be an improved team next season.