Reggie Johnson will likely miss the first month or two of the season. (Icon SMI)
By Ryan Feldman
Friday, September 23, 2011
Last Season: 21-15 (6-10)
Key Losses: Adrian Thomas
Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Malcolm Grant 6-1 Sr.
SG: Durand Scott 6-4 Jr.
SF: Garrius Adams 6-6 Jr.
PF: Kenny Kadji 6-11 So.
C: Reggie Johnson 6-10 Jr.
Key Reserves: DeQuan Jones 6-7 Sr. SF, Rion Brown 6-6 So. SG, Trey McKinney-Jones 6-5 Jr. SG, Bishop Daniels 6-3 Fr. SG
If the Miami Hurricanes have their full array of talent this season, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.
But there's no guarantee they will have their full array. Star center Reggie Johnson, who withdrew from the NBA Draft to return to Miami for his junior year, is coming off knee surgery after tearing his meniscus during the offseason. The good news is that he reportedly lost 20 pounds while rehabbing and is now down to about 285 pounds. The bad news is that Johnson may not return until after the New Year.
Johnson, who is a load down low and perhaps the most valuable player on the Hurricanes roster, is the main focus of concern for Miami fans, but he isn't the only one whose playing status is uncertain. DeQuan Jones, a 6-foot-7 talented senior wing, was accused of accepting illegal benefits and is under investigation by the NCAA.
Losing Jones wouldn't affect the outlook for the Hurricanes too much, but other players will have to step up while Johnson is out. That includes incoming transfer Kenny Kadji, a 6-foot-10 big man who comes to Miami from the University of Florida. Kadji averaged 4.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a freshman at Florida before being injured early in his sophomore year. Kadji will now be a fourth-year sophomore at Miami. With Kadji and Johnson playing together, they will be a powerful force down low in the ACC. But without Johnson, Kadji will have to step up as the Hurricanes' primary option in the frontcourt.
While Johnson is out, the Hurricanes will be thin up front with 6-foot-10 senior Julian Gamble likely out for the season with a torn ACL. That means Kadji will really have to step up and stay out of foul trouble.
Other than Johnson and Kadji, the Hurricanes have a slew of guards and wings. It starts with Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott, a high-powered New York backcourt duo. Neither is a pure point guard, but both can handle the ball and score.
Grant and Scott are both play-makers. Grant, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, likes to do most of his scoring from the perimeter. He shot 42.3 percent from 3-point range last season while attempting more than six 3-pointers per game. He led the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game while adding 3.2 assists per game.
Scott, a 6-foot-4 athletic guard, does most of his scoring around the basket. He uses his athleticism and play-making abilities to get to the rim. He averaged 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game last season. Grant and Scott have the ball in their hands the majority of the time when they are on the floor. The Hurricanes rely on them to make things happen.
Garrius Adams will likely be the third guard in the Hurricanes starting backcourt. The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season.
Backing up Grant, Scott and Adams will be Jones, Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones and Bishop Daniels. Jones, as mentioned above, is an athletic wing who hasn't quite panned out into the star he was expected to be when he was recruited. Jones and Brown, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, each put up more than four points per game last season.
McKinney-Jones, a 6-foot-5 junior who transferred from UMKC, averaged 10.9 points per game during the 2009-10 season. Daniels, a 6-foot-3 freshman from Word of God in Raleigh, N.C. (same high school as John Wall), is a fast, athletic combo guard who can rise above the rim.
In his first season with the Hurricanes, head coach Jim Larranaga, who comes over from George Mason, will have a talented, experienced group that can compete in the ACC. The Hurricanes have increased their win total from 19 to 20 to 21 over the last three seasons. They hope to improve that total by more than one win this year, and they especially hope to improve upon their 6-10 finish in conference play last season.
Other than Johnson's health, Miami's biggest issue is not having a pure point guard. Grant and Scott are primed to turn the ball over often, but they also form a high-tempo scoring attack that is tough to stop. With their guard play combined with Johnson and Kadji down low, there is no reason the Hurricanes shouldn't be in the NCAA tournament in Larranaga's first season in South Beach.