Canes Hoops Pre-Game: Texas Southern
While the football team heads to Durham, NC for an ACC Coastal showdown with the Duke Blue Devils (a game that Dan E. Dangerously has previewed in exquisite detail), the men's basketball squad gets Game 3 of the season underway at the BUC at 7pm. The game, which will be aired on ESPN 3, is against Texas Southern and for Jim Larranaga it's another opportunity to figure out how this team will iron out come conference play. With that said, let's get to brass tax....
First thing that needs to be said...
Yea there's no getting around it. This team is not even close to being in the same league as last year's team. Losing 5 starters, and replacing them with 2 role players is not a recipe for success. Toss in the fact that three very talented players, Angel Rodriguez (sitting out per NCAA transfer rules), Sheldon McClellan (same as Angel), and Deandre Burnett (Broken Wrist) all sitting the rest of the season, any signs of competing in the ACC for an upper halve standing spot is now gone with the proverbial wind. Check out these highlights from Georgia Southern to give yourself some idea of what this team can do...
But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy this season! There are a lot of reasons to back this year's team. Which I will get to in another post but for now let's focus on tonight's matchup.
Never heard of this school up until two days ago. But they're 2-0 and with wins over Norfolk State and Wiley College, don't know those two either. Point is, Miami is facing an unknown enemy, unknown to quite literally everyone! But give them credit they're doing some good things that can give Miami problems tonight. Let's look at Miami's stats compared to TSU's:
MIAMI TEXAS SOUTHERN
Couple of stats that pop out, first Points per Game. Texas Southern averaging 104 PPG while the Canes offensively only averaging 71.5 PPG. The Canes defense has allowed 73.0 PPG. So when your statistically already losing the PPG battle... THAT'S NOT GOOD. Larranaga's calling card as a coach is his defense, and for the most part that same scheme is back and working for the most part. With so many new players it will take time for their defense to get situated. Donnavan Kirk, Tonye Jekiri and Manu Lecomte are the catalysts defensively. With Kirk and Jekiri racking up blocks and Lecomte getting steals they'll be the focus when matching opposing team's offensively. What does worry me is that they're allowing opposing teams to shoot 41.9% from the field. Last year when Miami was clicking, they were only giving up 37.9%. That's a big 4% difference in the long run. And Texas Southern is already shooting 56.8% from the field. This will be a big test for Miami defensively. The good news in this matchup, Texas Southern is allowing 89.5 PPG, meaning the Canes will get a good chance to show their offensive strengths. They haven't been able to thru two games, so keep an eye on that.
Now to some players Miami will have to pay attention to...
#24 Aaric Murray
This guy has been hopping around schools, with one being West Virginia. He transfered to Texas Southern this year and has been the primary scorer. He's averaging.... get ready for this.... 28.5 PPG. That's right. Miami has already given up a 25+ scorer this season. That was in the last game, when the Canes allowed Georgia Southern's Jelani Hewitt to net 27 points. Not only does Murray's scoring present a problem, but he's averaging 9 rebounds a contest as well. With those number, he was named SWAC player of the week. On Monday his stat line read: 24 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 10 BLOCKS. He will be the Cane killer tonight if Miami can't match him on the block.
#4 Jose Rodriguez
He's averaging 21.5 PPG to go along with 9 RPG (rebounds per game). Same problem that Murray presents, they are both tall and physical on the block. It will be up to Kirk, Jekiri and Kelly to match their physicality.
#14 Ray Penn
Averaging 18.5 PPG and 10 APG (assists), Penn will be the most difficult assignment true freshman Manu Lecomte has faced so far this season. Penn does a great job of finding his bigs down low, and they use the pick and roll offensive effectively with him running the point. Expect Coach Larranaga to force Penn into a lot of pressure situations and double teams to force the ball out of his hands.
Now players that will be important for the Canes:
#22 Donnavan Kirk
Kirk has been the Canes best player this season. He's been scoring, rebounding, blocking, whatever the Canes need he has delivered. His transferring from Memphis was a big get for Coach L and so far it's paid off. He's averaged a Double Double through 2 games with 17 PPG and 10 RPG. He'll be relied upon again for Miami to have a chance to pull out their 2nd win of the season. He also will have to make sure his emotions don't get to him. During some of the hairier moments of the young season, he has easily gotten frustrated. As a leader of the team, it's his responsbility to be leading by example and not by his production.
#15 Rion Brown
I feel for Rion. He's an honest individual who works hard and wants to excel. But it just hasn't happened for him. He's incredibly athletic and lengthy, and has a beautiful shot. He just needs to find his consistency. Already in this season he has been slave to streaks. One minute he'll be stroking everything he sees, and the other he wouldn't be able to hit the Atlantic Ocean... that's saying something. Brown has hit only 2 3 pointers in his first two games, 22.2%, after going 5-6 in their exhibition game. For Rion he needs to do more slashing to the rim. If he can establish his scoring from inside the arc it will force defenders to keep him honest inside, then he can create open shots from beyond the arc. Gone are the days of finding the open spot, hands ready to shoot. He is a leader and a go to scorer. He must accept and deliver on that lofty expectation for Miami to have success tonight and this season.
This is a tough one to call, because yesterday I didn't even know Texas Southern was even a school. Now after doing my research, they have a solid hoops team that can come into Coral Gables and easily hand Miami another loss. But I don't think that will be the case. Texas Southern hasn't played a top level conference team, and even if Miami doesn't look like one right now, they have one factor that will always give them a chance. Jim Larranaga. With him coaching at a high level, and Texas Southern not having had a real test.... I think Miami wins this one 69-66, another nailbiter. Kirk will be the leading scorer, and I think Garrius Adams has a better game than Georgia Southern, where he was HORRENDOUS.
Reminder that the game will be broadcast on ESPN 3 or WatchESPN.com, and will be on www.wvum.org where I will have the call with Gabriel Ibrahim. Go to the website or 90.5 FM on your radio dial. I'll have a recap of the game later that night or tomorrow. Either way keep it posted to CanesInsight.com for all thing Canes hoops, football, recruiting..... you know the deal.
I leave you all with this play that almost got me kicked out of chapter for going bonkers.... GO CANES!!!