The Miami Hurricanes clearly regressed last season. Following a successful campaign that saw the team advance to the Sweet 16, Miami stumbled to a 17-16 (7-11) record and failed to make any postseason tournament appearances. But any Hurricanes fan will tell you that last season was an aberration, a transition year; any team who loses three core starters in Larkin, Scott, and Gamble will obviously not be as competitive the following year, and Miami hurt last season where those three players excelled.
Their offense was flat, averaging just 61.5 PPG (341st in the nation) and shooting the ball at a mediocre 42% as a team; however, what they lacked in scoring was made up for on the defensive end. Miami knew how to get stops when it needed them, and they held opponents to under 60 PPG, good for 11th in the country. Next year, with some young, offensive firepower coming in, Coach Larranaga will have an offense he can work with, making Miami a dangerous team to overlook in the ACC.
Rion Brown, G (15.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.3 APG)
Brown had a breakout year last season, posting career highs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. He led the team in every way a player could; nine out of ten of his 20 point games came against ACC opponents. Brown was not selected in the NBA draft, but he is still pursuing a professional basketball career.
Ja’Quan Newton, G (58th in ESPN’s Top 100)
Newton is a talented guard who plays a fearless brand of the game. He can split double teams and absorb a lot of contact for his size when he drives to the rim. Although Newton is not yet a true point guard, look for a smooth transition from shooting guard to point under the guidance of coach Larranaga.
James Palmer, G
Palmer, a D.C. native, is an athletic two guard who can score in halfcourt sets and in transition. He can hit the three pointer under just about any circumstance (catch and shoot, transition pull up, coming off a screen), and his length allows him to guard up to three positions. Palmer still needs to get stronger and further develop his skills, but he could be a nice piece for the Miami rotation.