The Miami Hurricanes are going to be playing in the Sweet 16 without the services of Reggie Johnson. The “Soul-eater” had to undergo a minor-surgery on his knee and likely won’t be back until the Final Four.
Downplaying the importance of his absence during the NCAA Tournament has seemed to be the common mistake people are making. The loss of this player, however, is going to make victory slightly harder for the Hurricanes.
It should go without saying that losing 300 pounds of anything is a big deal — but that is going against popular thinking at the moment. Somehow, many think that losing seven rebounds per game does not hurt Miami’s chances against the Marquette Golden Eagles. They cite Johnson’s declining minutes per outing as evidence that he was not that important anyway.
That would also be a form of ignorance, as his minutes were clearly going down due to a troublesome knee.
Losing Johnson is not a deathblow to Miami’s chances at a victory, although no team is better by losing such an integral part of their team during the Sweet 16. Despite being a role-player, Johnson was an important cog in the Hurricane’s wheel of success. The stats don’t always show the importance of every single player. The senior brought more than just seven boards a game — he brought an intimidating presence under the glass.
Still, Miami is equally as good, if not slightly better than Marquette. Losing Johnson shouldn’t have an overwhelming effect on the outcome of the game. That, however, would be at the assumption that the Hurricanes will be able to adjust to losing such a beastly force on the inside as a 7-2 record without Johnson would make one think.
Miami does not need to change who they are or completely alter their offensive strategy — they just need to realize they are a little less deep with big-men and that they might need others to pick up the swag that losing Johnson has cost them.
Will the Hurricanes be able to win without Johnson? You bet. But let us not pretend the road to victory did not become a little bit harder for “The U.”
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone