REGGIE, WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT EATING ALL THE FLAPJACKS?
We went a bit out of our comfort zone on this one, talking to Jerry from Miami blog Category 6. We got a nice discussion going and you can find my answers to his questions over there. In the meantime, hop on over to the site's Twitter and enjoy as we talk Hurricanes' coach Jim Larranaga, Miami freshman Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji and more.
It's an era of new coaches in the ACC. Talk a little bit about Jim Larranaga's first year, his philosophy and how Hurricanes' fans have perceived their new head coach.
Cane fans generally feel like Coach Larranaga is the right coach to lead the program to the next level. The AD apparently agrees as he was recently extended through 2019. Coach L is loved by the players (Malcolm Grant who suffered the loss of an older brother in December refers to Larranaga as a father figure). Players can be seen laughing on the bench when he cracks a joke, yet he's not afraid to yell and teach when a player makes a mistake. He has a magnetic personality with the press, and 'Cane fans in general feel lucky he's at "the U".
Miami has overcome a ton of injuries and a slow start to be right on the verge of an NCAA birth in his first year. As far as X's and O's, Miami plays mostly man and mixes in half court traps (Larranaga's patented scramble) and plays a lot of pick and pop/pick and roll on offense with an emphasis on getting the ball in the post.
For a time, Shane Larkin was a high priority target for the Demon Deacons. He ended up committing to Depaul before personal issues forced him to leave Chicago. He then ended up a member of the Hurricanes. Give us some more background on his journey to Miami and your thoughts on the freshman.
Well not a lot of detail has emerged on exactly why he transferred. The official word is a medical issue that he needed to be closer to his Florida home. As far as on the court, he has had ups and downs. His turnovers are a bit high and he's made freshman mistakes, but he looks like a future stud. Larkin is blindingly quick, shoots the ball well, is a menace defensively, and the 'Canes most reliable free throw shooter. This may seem like high praise, but by the end of his college career he could be a Chris Paul type.
Obviously, as Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott go, the Canes go. But there have been some really important role players, most notably Wake-killer Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji. What is Miami's identity offensively, and who else should Demon Deacon fans be keeping their eye on?
I'd say Johnson and Kadji are UM's most important players, more then role players for sure. Miami is at its best when they work the ball inside-out. The emphasis of late has been more on the inside game and less on the guards hoisting shot after shot.The 6'11 Kadji has the look of a star. He shoots 45.5% from downtown, but can also put the ball on the floor and score down low. Trey McKinney Jones is a versatile wing player who is also capable of having a big game.
Do you think Miami is an NCAA Tournament team?
I do. They do not have a bad loss. They played about half the season with out Johnson, arguably their best player, and beat Duke at Duke. That being said if they lose games to teams they should beat, and can not finish 9-7 or better in the ACC that can all change. With the field expanded to 68 this year, I like their odds.
Obviously, we get locked into our own world here at BSD, so we don't often get outside perspectives. What is your impression of the coaching situation at Wake Forest? What are your opinions about Jeff Bzdelik?
I actually picked Wake to be a surprise team before the season began and a bubble team at worst.
So i'd say there is some disappointment in Winston Salem. Since he is only in his second year, it's only fair that he get some time to get the program turned around,
Play this game out. How do you see it all going down? What's your final score?
Wake Forest keeps it close early behind McKie and Harris, while Miami fights through the hangover of the UNC loss. Behind the spirited play of Kadji, McKinney Jones, and Brown UM will surge and make a big second half run. UM fans everywhere exhale, Canes cruise 70-54.
Thanks again to Jerry and to Category 6. Best of luck as the Deacs try to steal one in Miami.