The Work 3-21 (Basketball Edition)

The Work 3-21 (Basketball Edition)

Peter Ariz
Peter Ariz

As Miami awaits the winner of Arizona State/Richmond for the opportunity to reach their first NIT Final Four, I highlight some of the storylines as we look ahead to the offseason. Although it was a disappointment that Miami did not make the big dance, there are positives to take away from the year, including Joe Thomas being the only graduating player. The Canes look to be in prime position to make a lot of noise in the ACC in 2015.

Look for more reports on the basketball team like this over the next few months.

**Logjam at the guard spot

--Angel Rodriguez’s shot selection will be a major area of focus for him in the offseason, much like it was for Sheldon McClellan last year (McClellan’s FG% rose from 38% at Texas to 50% at Miami this season). Rodriguez shot 34% from the field this season, while at Kansas State he was at 36% his sophomore season.

--Manu Lecomte took a major leap this year, but coaches hope to see him continue to expand his game. After shooting a more-than-respectable 39.7% from three during his freshman year, his percentage leaped to 47% this year. His confidence with the ball in his hands was a major improvement. The next step for him will be continuing to work on his mid-range game, which could be a lethal weapon for him.

--DeAndre Burnett and JaQuan Newton will be the ones to watch this offseason. There was talk that Burnett clashed with coaches at times this year, which led to him not playing as many minutes as he would like. His talent is undeniable, though. Burnett brings instant offense off of the bench, scoring 7 PPG in only 17 minutes per game. He only shot 36% from the field and 28% from three, which could definitely be improved upon. Newton did a nice job in spurts for the Canes this season, but his shooting needs major work. The upside with him is tremendous and the thing that he brings to the floor is an attacking mindset. He did a great job of pushing the pace and attacking the lane and kicking. It would not surprise me to see one of these guys transfer, but hopefully it all works out.

--James Palmer’s length and ability to stretch the floor was a weapon for Miami this season. Coaches would like to see his rebounding numbers to a jump from 1.4 this year. Offensively, the focus for him will be expanding his game off the dribble. We saw flashes of his ability to take it to the hoop in transition, but the midrange game, as well as the addition of a floater, are two additions that could help him really become a special player.

**Freshman class shows promise

--One of the most encouraging signs for the Canes this season was its freshman class of Palmer, Newton, and Omar Sherman. One of the knocks on the Miami program over the past few years is that most of its top players have come via transfer (Jack McClinton, Malcolm Grant, Trey McKinney-Jones, Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan). Obviously a lot of those guys did big things as Canes, but it is tough to build a foundation on transfers alone. There has not been a freshman class show this much promise in a long time as Canes. Sherman will probably look to drop a bit more weight, which could keep him on the floor for longer stretches at a time. He lost about 20 pounds when he first got to Miami, and losing a little more would do wonders for him defensively. He has good enough hands and body control to be able to make a big leap from 2.2 RPG. His minutes decreased as Ivan Cruz Uceda found his groove. Coaches would like to see his offensive game around the basket make an improvement as well. Has a tremendous feel for the game.

**Newcomers could help boost defense

--Miami’s defense ranked 87th in the country this season, allowing 63.4 PPG. 6-8, 220-pound Kamari Murphy had to sit out this season due to transfer rules after coming from Oklahoma State last offseason. His biggest contribution next season could come on the defensive end, where his length is a major factor. He averaged 6.3 rebounds per game, which is major as well. There is already some talk that Canes’ lone signee Anthony Lawrence could see some time as well. The 6-7 wing prospect has the physical makeup and athletic ability to be a lockdown defender at the next level. He also excels in transition offensively, as referenced in this dunk he had on 7-6 Tacko Fall:

**Progression of Jekiri and Cruz Uceda

--Tonye Jekiri finally took the huge step that many Canes fans had been hoping to see from him. His minutes increased from 21 to 30 per game, PPG jumped from 4.2 to 8.7, FG% went from 45% to 51%, FT% from 58% to 73%, RPG from 5.5 to 10.1, blocks from 0.9 to 1.5. He has continued to work on that midrange jumper, which could make him a big-time NBA prospect in a year. His back-to-the-basket game needs work as well, but if he makes yet another leap then he could be one of the top big men in the country next season.

--It took Cruz Uceda a while to get his feet under him after having to sit out until the Notre Dame game on January 17th, but he really became adjusted to the speed of the game by the end of the year. He had four double-digit games including 11 against North Carolina. Coaches would like to see him become a bit tougher inside the paint, particularly on the defensive end and rebounding-wise, where he averaged 3.2 boards a game.

Comments (38)

Newton needs to spend the entire offseason in the weight room.
Would love to see us redshirt a guard next season if they all return.

Maybe Manu? I know it probably won't happen though.


We can't play all these can we?
I have no sources on anything, but I don't see why McClellan would return. His stock won't get any higher.
I have no sources on anything, but I don't see why McClellan would return. His stock won't get any higher.

Where's would he go?

Our 2016 class could be real nice if we got The big kid from norland
Pete we need the buzz on recruiting basketball style too.
Thank you for the Bball report. we need a lot more of these Pete!
I have no sources on anything, but I don't see why McClellan would return. His stock won't get any higher.

Ridiculous. Mac needs a ton of work on his confidence and frankly on his game.
I have no sources on anything, but I don't see why McClellan would return. His stock won't get any higher.

Ridiculous. Mac needs a ton of work on his confidence and frankly on his game.

He can improve in the pros. Or at least the D-League, which is has been expanding quite a bit the past few years and isn't much of a wasteland anymore.

He had career highs all across the board with the lowest usage percentage since he's been in college. I'd love for him to stay but couldn't blame him for leaving.
Are we only signing Lawrence this yr ?

Most likely. We only lose Joe Thomas and the roster adds Kamari Murphy as well as Lawrence. If they do add someone it will most likely be another transfer. Probably another big man.
I have no sources on anything, but I don't see why McClellan would return. His stock won't get any higher.

With his talent it definitely can. This was a top 40 player out of HS. He took a jump & with more confidence he can continue to develop.
We can make DEEP run with Mac. I expect Reed to be one of our best players, 2nd best behind Mac next year. I really hope Burnett doesn't transfer. I think he can be special.
McClellen leaving for the draft would be a Drew Rosenhaus move with a football kid. Draft is but 2 rounds and highly unlikely he gets picked. So he sits out a transfer year, plays a season at Miami and leaves for the D-League or overseas? If true, he's getting terrible advice. Better to stay in school, work on handle and shot and maybe get drafted next year. Get closer to earning a degree and D-League/overseas, if that's his best option, will still be there.
Please do not mention Burnett and transfer in the same paragraph again.

Newton needs to spend the entire offseason in the weight room.
ICU/Sherman need to join him. If they up their strength/quickness, they'd be dangerous compliments to Jekiri. If that happens along with adding in Murphy...we would be deep/athletic down in the paint, something we sorely missed at times this year. If our explosion on the perimeter got matched up by our guys down low...we'd be dangerous.

What Coach L has to get these guys to understand is yes--we have an embarrassment of talent at the G spot. Tons of guys who are excellent players who will need to get minutes, and there may not be a ton of minutes to go around. However...what it takes for a Miami to make a run at the ACC title, and possibly make a deep run in the NCAA tourney, is to have that depth. Look at Kentucky. They have talent on top of talent, go about 9-10 deep, and they mix/match lineups to beat whatever style teams want to play against them. Having waves of talent coming at your opponent is a major advantage. When there's little drop off from the first 5 to the 2nd 5 and beyond...90% or more of teams can't handle that.

That's what this team can do next season IF everyone improves what they need to, and they all stick with the program instead of trying to duck out somewhere to be "the man". So...transfer/sit a year to go be the guy somewhere else, or stick with this team that has a chance to be really special next season? Stats vs Championships? Those are the questions...and Coach L needs to use this NIT run to frame what the answers for everyone on this squad should have to those questions. Let's stick together and win some hardware.
And, for the record, I basically said all of this in my "Next Year's Team" thread, but didn't call it "The Work." Just sayin. Give me some ****** credentials.