Miami is the most underrated team in the ACC. I am eating my own words from 2 weeks ago after their lone loss to Florida Gulf Coast, when I claimed they aren’t a winning team. Well they are, and with a current record of 4 wins and 1 loss they are beginning to turn heads. Their most impressive victory to date is an upset over No. 13 Michigan State.
4 out of the top 5 players for head coach Jim Larranaga are seniors, so for the Hurricanes to make a run anytime soon, it has to be this year. Their only underclassman in the starting rotation is also their leading scorer in sophomore guard Shane Larkin. Larkin has all the tools of a great, true point guard. At 5’11” he isn’t causing any size mismatches in his favor, but his lightning speed keeps defenders on their heels. He can beat his opponents with fantastic 3-point range shooting at 50%, or turn on the burners and leave them in his dust. Larkin’s decision making also makes him a threat facilitating the offense. He is dishing out 4 assists a game as a score-first point guard.
Senior big men Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson rule the post. They are 6’11” and 6’10” respectively, and Johnson is a monster at 292 lbs. Johnson has had some trouble staying on the court with injury woes last season, and has already missed one game this year. When on the court together, these modern day “bash brothers” are a force. They both block shots, they both crash the boards, and they both score in double digits.
Senior perimeter players Durand Scott and Trey McKinney Jones round out a starting five that are all scoring double figures per game. Scott missed the first 3 games of the season while fulfilling a suspension, but now the team leader is back and performing well in all phases. Jones contributed a great performance in their Michigan State beat down where he made 5-of-7 from behind the arc and scored 18 points on the night.
Miami is showing a lot of heart early on and they should be able to cruise through some inferior opponents in the next month or so. We will really see what this team is made of starting Jan. 10 when they square off against North Carolina. From that point on they will be facing all ACC opponents. That is when they will be tested, and have to succeed in establishing themselves as an NCAA tournament caliber team.