What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Miami

miamiIt’s another down year for Jim Larranaga, who almost certainly will see a second straight season end in the ACC Tournament, absent a big run next week in Greensboro.

Miami was a Sweet Sixteen team as recently as 2016, the first of three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, among the four that Larranaga has had in Coral Gables in his nine-year run there.

The 2019-2020 Hurricanes were never in the conversation for NCAA consideration, never getting higher than 60 in KenPom and 76 in the NET.

The best win is way back in December, at Illinois in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, which, as an aside, isn’t it interesting that somehow these Big Ten teams can withstand those kinds of resume killers, losing at home to a team outside the Top 100 in the metrics, and still not be considered anywhere near the bubble?

Joe Lunardi, this morning, has the Illini an eight seed in the Midwest, matched up with his nine seed in that region, this team from Virginia that you may have heard of.

What the frick ever.

(I’m trying to use less profanity these days. It’s hard.)


Getting to know: Miami

Miami. I really like Chris Lykes, the 5’7” guard, whose numbers (15.2 ppg, 2.5 assists/g, 42.6% FG, 37.9% 3FG), strike me as a bit odd, at first glance.

Lykes, as mentioned above, is 5’7”, but those numbers are the profile of a shooting guard more than a point guard, though they are team-leading, tied for the team lead, anyway, with Harlond Beverly (7.6 ppg, 2.5 assists/g, 41.2% FG, 25.0% 3FG), a 6’4” freshman averaging 20.5 minutes per game off the bench.

What the numbers actually tell you is that Miami gets its offense off isos and dribble penetration, and here’s more to buttress what you see there: the ‘Canes register assists on 38.3 percent of their made field goals, which ranks 352nd in D1, according to KenPom.

For comparison: Virginia assists on 55.0 percent of its made baskets.

So, a lot attacking the paint from Lykes (26.7 percent of his shots come at the rim, according to Hoop-Math.com), Beverly (50.5 percent of his shots come at the rim), 6’3” freshman Isaiah Wong (7.6 ppg, 42.9% FG, 40.0% 3FG) and 6’5” junior Kameron McGusty (13.0 ppg, 44.6% FG, 32.7% 3FG).

Wong (41.7 percent) and McGusty (26.6 percent) are also adept at attacking the paint from the perimeter.

Miami isn’t a volume deep-shooting team, but you watch out for Wong, Lykes, McGusty and 6’3” senior Dejan Vasiljevic (13.2 ppg, 41.1% FG, 34.2% 3FG), who is about as pure a pure spot-up guy as you’re going to see (69.8 percent of his makes from three are assisted).

There is size in the post, with seven-foot junior Rodney Miller (7.6 ppg, 5.8 rebs/g, 58.3% FG), 6’10” junior Sam Waardenburg (6.2 ppg, 5.9 rebs/g, 43.6% FG, 27.7% 3FG) and 6’8” senior Keith Stone (4.7 ppg, 4.4 rebs/g, 33.8% FG, 16.7% 3FG), who has started the last six games at four for Larranaga.

How Virginia matches up

Larranaga goes conventional – three guards, two bigs – so you can expect Tony Bennett to respond with his preferred starting lineup of late, featuring 6’9” senior Mamadi Diakite (13.6 ppg, 5.0 rebs/g, 47.7% FG, 37.7% 3FG) and 7’1” junior Jay Huff (8.1 ppg, 6.1 rebs/g, 58.3% FG, 34.1% 3FG) in the post, 6’8” senior Braxton Key (10.2 ppg, 7.4 rebs/g, 44.1% FG, 19.7% 3FG) at three, and 5’9” sophomore Kihei Clark (10.7 ppg, 6.0 assists/g, 37.7% FG, 36.3% 3FG) and 6’5” junior Tomas Woldetensae (6.9 ppg, 36.2% FG, 37.2% 3FG) in the backcourt.

Woldetensae only got 23 minutes in the 52-50 win over Duke on Saturday as he mucked through his second straight off-night, missing all five of his shots from the floor and badly misfiring on the front end of a one-and-one.

Woldetensae has gone 1-of-13 from the floor in his past two games, after averaging 13.3 points per game over his prior eight games, shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from three.

The bulk of the minutes that would have gone to Woldetensae in the Duke game went to 6’7” sophomore Kody Stattmann (3.8 ppg, 33.3% FG, 25.5% 3FG), who scored two points and had two rebounds in 24 otherwise nondescript minutes in the W.

6’3” freshman Casey Morsell (4.2 ppg, 27.6% FG, 17.9% 3FG), who had averaged 6.0 points per game on 40.9 percent shooting in his previous four games, only got eight minutes in the Duke game, missing his only shot attempt and grabbing one rebound.


Virginia (21-7, 13-5 ACC) at Miami (14-14, 6-12 ACC)
Day/Time/TV: Wednesday, 9 p.m., ACC Network
Bart Torvik:
Virginia 58-56 (60% win probability)
Virginia 60-58 (54% win probability)
Virginia +2.1 (59.3 percent win probability

Story by Chris Graham


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