Coach: Frank Haith (88-73 at Miami, 88-73 overall)
Miami has done an admirable job hanging around with the big boys in the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, much of that success has been due to the now departed Jack McClinton. During his senior campaign the guard averaged 19.3 points per game and took all the big shots. Just who is going to step up and take those shots now is the big question.
Key Losses: F Brian Asbury, F Jimmy Graham, G Lance Hurdle, G Jack McClinton
The perimeter will have to rely on the newcomers for the most part and even one of the returning players is a relatively unproven talent. DeQuan Jones, a 6-7 wing, averaged just 11.0 minutes per game as a freshman, but he is a superb athlete who can do damage inside and out. If he can live up to his potential, Hurricane fans will forget about McClinton pretty quickly. Jones will likely need more time before he starts consistently scoring in double figures and in the meantime James Dews will be the steadying force in the backcourt. The 6-4 senior can be a decent shooter, although he was quite inconsistent last year and he will have to turn into a leader on the perimeter this time around.
The two returning starters from last year are in the frontcourt. Dwayne Collins ended the campaign averaging 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. He has a tendency to disappear at times, especially offensively, but the 6-8 senior is one of the more experienced players on this team and he needs to put those inconsistency issues behind him. Cyrus McGowan is the other returning starter. He is not much of a scorer, but he is a tough rebounder and a decent shot blocker. Last year it was Jimmy Graham who provided the toughness and shot blocking under the basket and that job needs to be taken over by McGowan this year. Adrian Thomas can help out on the glass as well, but he is more of a shooter than a post player, but his ability to stretch out of the opposing defense will be very valuable in certain situations.
Who’s In for Miami:
A top 20 recruiting class will help replace the loss of McClinton and the other quality players who have run out of eligibility. Durand Scott is one of the best recruits to head to Miami in recent years and he is expected to make an immediate impact and possibly step into a starting role. Antoine Allen and Garrius Adams will provide even more depth on the perimeter. However, it is the addition of Malcolm Grant, a transfer from Villanova, that will give this team a ball handler that it is desperately needed. In the frontcourt Donnavan Kirk and redshirt freshman Reggie Johnson have the size and skills to find some minutes off the bench.
Grant is probably going to be the most important player on this team if he turns out to be the starting point guard. As a freshman at Villanova in 2007-2008 he made four starts and averaged 5.6 points and 1.4 assists. He is a great three-point shooter, but he may not have as many opportunities to shoot if he spends most of the time with the ball in his hands. Ideally, Grant would be an off guard, but Miami has had success in the past without a true point guard and Grant should be an upgrade over Lance Hurdle in the long run.
Final 2009-2010 Miami Projection:
This team lost three starters as well as the guy who did all the dirty work under the basket. The recruiting class is great and there are some sophomores like Jones who should be ready to make a bigger impact, but it is hard to see this team being any better than they were last year. That means it should be another trip to the NIT for the Miami.