There is little arguing that what the Miami Hurricanes’ men’s basketball team has accomplished this season already is nothing short of spectacular. Seen as a middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC, the Hurricanes were picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll, but have risen to the top of the league by knocking off conference powers like the Duke Blue Devils. As of late, the Hurricanes have struggled a bit by losing two out of three, though one of those losses came to Duke 79-76 in overtime. But, as the team gears up for the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament, it’s interesting to wonder what they will look like next season.
This year’s Hurricanes have been led by a talented group of seniors in Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji, Julian Gamble, Durand Scott and Trey McKinney Jones along with talented sophomore Shane Larkin. Outside of Larkin—who may be tempted to test the waters of the NBA draft this summer—only one player, Rion Brown, has seen action in all 28 games this season.
If Larkin were to bolt for the NBA, the Hurricanes would be left with a gaping hole in their roster for next season. Even with a talented recruiting class—which at this point is still up in the air—the Hurricanes will still be expected to compete in a tough ACC every week and at this point, it is difficult to believe the team will be competitive under those circumstances.
Jim Larranaga is one of the best coaches in college basketball and if any coach can get the most out of the talent they are presented with, he is that guy. It would seem illogical to think that he isn’t aware of the roster shakeup that the team is about to face and doesn’t already have a plan in place to combat these issues. He likely has targeted some of the best—if not underrated or overlooked—prospects in the country and will fill the vacant holes on next year’s roster with talented young ballplayers.
The success of the Hurricanes this season should only bolster their position and ranking with prospective recruits while also attracting more talented recruits that previously may have been pipe dreams at best. However, recruiting is an interesting creature and there is no telling what kind of surprises could appear as the recruiting season rolls on.
Even though I firmly believe the Hurricanes will reload with talented prospects this off-season, I do think next year is going to be a tough one in Miami. When you look at all of the talented teams that are going to be in the league next season, it is difficult to imagine the Hurricanes being able to compete with so many question marks heading into next year. However, the turnaround that has taken place shouldn’t be seen as a mirage. Instead, this turnaround should be perceived around the country as a trend.
Larranaga has this program on the right track for the first time in many years and with his successful track record at his past stops, it is fair to assume he can sustain this success at Miami. Sustained success takes time and patience, which will be needed for the Hurricanes to remain competitive on the national stage.
While the Hurricanes may take a step back next year in terms of wins and losses, the team will only be retooling and continuing to build a base that will produce a strong program for the foreseeable future. Once this base is firmly in place, Miami can expect smaller and fewer drop-offs after successful seasons like the current one. Then again, Larranaga and company pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this year’s squad, so who’s saying they can’t do it again next year?