- Nov 6, 2011
Conference play is going to hurt.
Just bought a pair of $6 tickets, NCAA better reinstate Huellnandez tonight.The Miami Hurricanes (8-4, 0-0) begin conference play with a contest against the 18th ranked NC State Wolfpack (12-1, 0-0)
Just a month ago, the sky was falling for the Canes basketball team. They had just lost to Penn by 14 points marking their 4th straight loss after starting the season 5-0, leaving the Canes at 5-4 and looking for answers. Then came the terrible news that Deng Gak had suffered a season ending knee injury, which left a gaping hole on a front line that was already questionable at best with the status of Dewan Hernandez still uncertain.
But after a two-week hiatus, the Canes jumped back into action and rattled off three straight wins. They weren’t as convincing as most Canes fans would have hoped, winning by just single digits against Houston Baptist and Campbell, but nevertheless, the Canes were able to move their record to 8-4 and now have a chance to work their way back into the NCAA tournament conversation with a strong showing in ACC play.
They begin conference play against the surprising NC State Wolfpack who have started the season 12-1, which includes a huge win over the then 7th ranked Auburn Tigers. The Wolfpack were projected to finish 8th place in the preseason ACC poll (just two spots ahead of the Canes), but have far surpassed expectations early-on in finding themselves ranked 18th in the country. Their well-balanced attack is led by senior Torin Dorn, who averages 15.1 PPG.
While the game will surely be the biggest challenge of the Canes season thus far, it will certainly not be their biggest test of the season. The beauty of playing in the ACC is that they will have plenty of chances to avenge their questionable losses to Ivy League foes in the nonconference. 6 of the Canes first 9 games in conference play will be against teams currently ranked in the top 25, 4 of which will be against teams in the top 10.
The Canes will have to rely on terrific play from their leaders if they expect to make any type of run. With the depth of their bench seriously depleted, only 7 players are left to fill the rotation, and with a deep ACC and incredibly tough schedule, this could prove to be too difficult of a task for the Canes. Chris Lykes will need to have his assist-to-turnover ratio get much better if the Canes are to have any chance and Ebuka Izundu will have to stay out of foul trouble as he works the glass and battles the bigs from the ACC’s goliaths.
While Izundu and Lykes will have to play stellar basketball, the supporting cast will have to exceed any expectations set for them at the beginning of the season. Amp Lawrence has scored in double figures in three consecutive games, and Zach Johnson dropped 22 against Campbell to bring his points per game average to the second highest on the team. A lot is also going to be asked of Sam Waardenburg and Anthony Mack early on. This is certainly not a position many expected Mack to be in, but with injuries and Hernandez’s status unknown, the Canes now need him to play a key role moving forward.
This game isn’t a must win for the Canes, but it would certainly go a long way in helping them gather some confidence moving forward. The Wolfpack are big road favorites, and between the injuries and lackluster play of the Canes, I fear that they should have no trouble coming to Coral Gables and taking care of business.