Sunday, December 16, 2007

Storm Watch: Hurricanes are coming on.

The Miami Hurricanes are 9-0. Not the football team, not the baseball team, but the basketball team is undefeated in mid December. Yes, it is Frank Haith's team that is off to their best start in six years. The Hurricanes are led by Baltimore's own Jack McClinton who is averaging just under 15 points a night. The keys to Miami's success has been their ACC leading 44.1% three point field goal percentage and their 42.9 rebounds per game average (second best in the league). That's a pretty easy formula for success. Grab every rebound and hit a lot of three pointers. What many (including myself) overlooked about this Miami team is that they are huge. They have six players who are at least 6'7 232lbs. This is a huge advantage for a team that does not have the consistent guard play that the upper echelon teams in the league possess. The big men, led by 6'9 242lbs fifth year senior Anthony King have been aggressive both offensively and defensively and have taken some of the pressure off of the guards. This season has progressed exactly how Haith would like......and we'll show you how.

While the Hurricanes have yet to play an ACC game they have played some formidable competition. Their first game of the year against Florida Southern (11/9/07) turned out as expected as the Canes' handled the Mocassins easily. After this game it was off to the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off to take on Marist in the opening round game. Miami took care of Red foxes and it was clear that this year's Miami squad will be able to handle the opponents they should. Game 3 however was a different animal altogether. They took on a very talented VCU team led by big time point guard Eric Maynor. You might remember Maynor (if you don't remember, watch) absolutely abusing the Duke guards in that round of 32 game in last year's NCAA tournament. Well, things weren't much different for Miami's guards as Maynor went off for 27 points and 6 assists but in this contest Miami got a little bit more. McClinton went off for 23 and Anthony King went to work with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 blocks as Miami went on to win by 6 at home. Two days later 6'7 junior guard Brian Asbury dropped 16 (3-4 from three point land) on Providence in the Puerto Rico tip off championship game (11/18/07) as the Canes' would win that contest by six.

Six days later the Hurricanes were back on the main land for the first of three straight home games against Morgan State, Alabama State, and St. John's respectively. The Hurricanes would take care of these challenge pretty easily and beat a decent Florida International team by 13 on the road before heading to Starkville, Mississippi to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. This was the first true test for 8-0 Miami as they had yet to face a team with a physically imposing point guard like the Bulldogs Jamont Gordon. Gordon combines NBA size and skills at the point guard position and is a very difficult match up for any college guard. Well if you heard what happened already it was apparent that Jack McClinton didn't get the memo. He lit up the Bulldogs for 29 on 5-10 three point shooting and the Canes' garnered a huge out of conference road win. On that third Sunday in March when the Hurricanes will be at home watching the NCAA tournament show they can be at ease a bit knowing that they won 3 tough out of conference games early on in the season. The new challenge for Frank Haith's squad is to see if they can make it through the ACC regular season unscathed.

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