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Wake Forest vs. Miami Preview: Q&A w/ State of the U

Learning more about the U.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Do you have any explanation how Miami loses to Eastern Kentucky at home by nearly 30 points, and then wins at Cameron by 14?
I think if anyone knew the rhyme or reason for UM's inconsistency it would be Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga, and he seems puzzled as the rest of us when he tries to explain the causes for it.  He has said that the team does not practice well all of the time. We also know that when they produce a stinker like Eastern Kentucky or Georgia Tech, the main culprits on the court are bad shot selection and porous transition D.  So frankly it boils down to effort and concentration. With experienced leaders like Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez at the helm, you would think they would go all out all of the time.  But that is still something Coach L is having to drill into them for. Why they do not practice and play hard ALL of the time, remains a mystery. 

Which Miami player should Wake fans pay the most attention to?
Tonye Jekiri.   The 7 foot C is leading the conference in rebounding and has been a force defensively as well.  His offensive game is far from polished, but is improving. While players like Rodriguez, McClellan, and Manu Lecomte are all arguably more talented, only Jekiri has played night in and night out as a consistent, high energy performer.

Which Wake Forest player do you think will give Miami the most problems?

Easily Devin Thomas.  Jekiri is a true 5, but Miami has a trifecta of PFs who all have limitations.   Omar Sherman can knock down triples, and has some girth. But defensively he has not exactly been a stalwart as a true freshman.  Ivan Cruz Uceda is 6'10 and a smart player, but is very slow footed.  Joe Thomas battles very hard, but is undersized at 6'7 and very limited offensively.  The 'Canes also like to shift wing Davon Reed over to the 4, but he too is a smaller player at 6'6.  They do not have any individual players who can match up well with Thomas.

Who wins and why?

I like Miami.  First and foremost they play better on the road.   Second, they are the better team player for player. Codi Miller-McIntyre is a talented scorer, but in Reed, JaQuan Newton, and McClellan, the Hurricanes have a few options to slow him down and make him work defensively.  Unless Thomas goes batty on the interior (possible) UM should win this game with their plethora of skilled guards, 68-59.

Many thanks to Jerry Steinberg of State Of The U for answering my questions. Please be sure to check out their site for all things Miami.