Saturday, February 07, 2009

Meet the Hurricanes

Going into Wednesday night, Miami had the worst defense in conference play. Every team they had played scored at least a point per possession, and 5 posted offensive ratings of 110 or better. So of course they were going to hold Wake Forest to 52 points in 68 possessions, by far the best Miami's looked on defense since November.

Despite the Wake game, Miami is still a poor defensive team. They don't turn opponents over - 11th in the conference at just 17.4%. They don't block shots - also 11th in the conference. Teams score with relative ease against the Canes as well - they let opponents shoot .508 efg%, 9th in the conference. Despite all that, Miami is currently sitting at nearly .500 in conference play-with a very slightly positive efficiency margin-due to some very efficient offense. They score 1.0835 points per possession, 3rd in the conference. As with all Miami teams, they're highly active on the offensive board, collecting 40% of available offensive rebounds. And they're currently leading the league in shooting.

Miami is paced by Jack McClinton. He's a very high efficiency scorer, putting up a 118 offensive rating in conference play while using nearly 30% of Miami's possessions. McClinton hits 43% of his 3s, a respectable 47% of his 2s, and 85% from the line. He's a dangerous offensive threat, and will almost certainly go for over 20 today (the key is making it an inefficient 20, but that's easier said than done. Joining him in the backcourt is Lance Hurdle. Hurdle's really struggled with his inside shot - just 11-39 from 2. He's also vulnerable to turnovers, losing the ball on 23% of his possessions. He's been a decent, but not dangerous, point guard.

In the front court, Miami starts Dwayne Collins, Brian Asbury, and new addition to the lineup Adrian Thomas. Thomas has really played his way into a starting job. He's in double figures 5 of his last 8 games, hits 50% from 3 and 9 of 13 from 2, and gets after it on the offensive glass. His usage is relatively limited, but he has an exceptional 142 offensive rating (exactly what you want from a role player). Collins is doing exactly what he's always done - rebound, rebound, rebound. He's one of the best offensive rebounders in the conference, gathering over 15% of Miami's misses. Collins has battled foul trouble in his last couple games, but he's still a dangerous scorer inside when he can stay on the court (as Duke fans should remember). One thing he doesn't do is block shots - just 1 so far in ACC play. Asbury is a very inconsistent player - capable of 21 one night and 0 the next. Asbury has a tendency to bomb away from outside, which is good for opponents, since he's a sub-30% 3-point shooter. Asbury's also one of Miami's more active defenders, with the length and quickness to create both steals and blocks.

Miami goes deep into the bench, with 9 guys getting at least 10 minutes a game in conference play. James Dews, a starter last year (and earlier this year) has really struggled with his shot, hitting just 6-28 from 3 in conference play. Jimmy Graham is a very good rebounder - over 10% on offense and over 30% on defense. He has 61 rebounds in 161 total ACC minutes, which translates to about 15 per 40. That's excellent. Cyrus McGowan, an Arkansas transfer, has also played his way from the starting lineup to the bench. He hasn't hit double figures since the Clemson game back in December, and has been turning the ball over too much. DeQuan Jones, a very highly touted recruit, has also seen his minutes cut in conference play, and with good reason - he has the lowest offensive rating of all Hurricanes.

Miami is going to try to win this game with offense, and after being shredded by Clemson on Wednesday, Duke's defense will again be tested. Of course, hopefully Miami's defense (or lack thereof) helps Duke's offense get back in the swing of things as well.

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