Let’s think about this for a second, what if Miami (FL) wasn’t undefeated in conference play and looking like a legitimate threat to win the ACC as the month of January nears a close? How would this have affected the return of senior forward Reggie Johnson? How much higher would his pressure to produce be if the Hurricanes were not playing as dominate as they have been?
Well, good thing we know how things are playing out for Miami as the news and hype surrounding them only continues to grow. The pressure on Johnson to produce and settle in within the Hurricanes’ lineup has barely been felt at all.
With No. 1 Duke in town last Wednesday, Miami took the opportunity to get Johnson back in the lineup. On paper, or even looking back a few weeks ago, that was game that the Hurricanes needed to have Johnson healthy for, if they had any shot at pulling off the upset. Well, the reality is this, Johnson scored only two points in 16 minutes of action as the Hurricanes defeated the Blue Devils by 27 points, so that persona has certainly changed and its a testament to the Hurricanes as a whole.
Fast forward to this past Sunday, Miami once again did it at home, this time routing Florida State with just a small increase of production from Johnson. On Sunday, the senior scored five points in 22 minutes, but struggled from the field overall, shooting just 1-of-8 in the team’s 71-47 victory.
Prior to the season, Johnson was certainly one of the most, if not the most important player to the Hurricanes’ potential success. Now things have flipped and given Johnson’s injury this past season, it’s all going hand-in-hand with Miami’s success and potential case at winning the ACC.
With others such as Julian Gamble and Kenny Kadji stepping up down the low, the pressure is off Johnson, which gives him ample time to settle in this past week and move forward after missing the previous eight contests. Johnson is just too talented to become a role player for the Hurricanes, but the effort and strong play of the Hurricanes’ rotation simply allows his production to come into its own as the season rolls along.
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