Miami Basketball: Breaking Down the Hurricanes' Meteoric Rise

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 10:  Durand Scott #1 and Julian Gamble #45 of the Miami Hurricanes celebrate after a win over the North Carolina Tar Heels at Dean Smith Center on January 10, 2013 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Miami won 68-59.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Miami Hurricanes are not just one of the best stories in college basketball. They are simply one of the best teams.

The Canes have won every game they’ve played since Christmas night—14 straight victories, including their first 13 ACC contests.

You don’t go through the first three-quarters of the conference season undefeated without playing outstanding basketball. They’ve already taken down North Carolina (twice), Duke and North Carolina State.

Even considering their March 2nd rematch against the Blue Devils in Durham, the Hurricanes could finish out the regular season without another loss.

In his second year in Coral Gables, Jim Larranaga has pushed all the right buttons and has Miami (22-3; 13-0 ACC) on track to become a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

The Canes are booming in a number of key areas. Let’s break down their meteoric rise that has them currently ranked at No. 2 in the polls.


It All Starts With D

One big reason that the Hurricanes are hammering one team after another is that they consistently get all in their opponents’ business.

Miami is one of the toughest teams about checking shooters near and far.

Presently, the Canes are the No. 11 FG percentage defense (37.8 percent) and No. 31 in three-point FG defense (30.1 percent).

To go along with this focused pressure, Miami rules the defensive glass. They average 26.5 defensive rebounds per game (No. 18 in the nation).

Because Larranaga’s lineup limits everyone to such a low shooting percentage and one shot on many possessions, it’s no surprise that they are holding teams to 58.7 points per game (No. 24 in the nation). They’ve held eight challengers to 50 points or less.

If “defense wins championships,” then Miami is definitely putting themselves on the right track.


Taking Care of and Scoring the Ball

Don’t think for a moment that the Canes can only stop other teams.

They are a strong and tested offensive unit. Durand Scott and Shane Larkin command this veteran unit.

They are the teams’ leading scorers and they jointly run the show from the backcourt.

Because of Scott and Larkin’s ballhandling and passing skills, Miami only turns the ball over 11.1 times per game. That’s No. 17 in the nation.

As a team, the Hurricanes have excellent shot selection and can truly shoot the ball. They are hitting 46.1 percent of their shots (No. 49).

Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson give Miami a dynamic frontcourt duo. Rarely do any of the Canes’ opponents match up with Miami’s size and strength down low.


Lots of Experience and Maturity

Few teams have more experience than the 2012-13 Hurricanes. This seasoned unit is made up of six seniors and four juniors.'s Gene Frenette points out that “five of coach Jim Larranaga’s top six players, including 6'11'' Florida transfer Kenny Kadji, are seniors and have an average age of 23.

Age alone doesn’t translate into the Canes' great performance, but it sure helps to have some stability when it’s crunch time.

Miami has very few weak spots in their game. They have long since put behind their three losses that came when the Canes were dealing with early season injuries.

And their rise is not finished.

Miami’s best is still yet to come in the final six weeks that lead up to the Final Four in Atlanta.