Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Frontcourt Will Be Key to 'Canes Tournament Success
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
After one of the best seasons in program history, the Miami Hurricanes are a No. 2 seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament. In the East Region, the ‘Canes could face the likes of Marquette, Syracuse and Indiana before advancing to the Final Four.
In order to potentially advance that far into the tournament, Miami will have to depend heavily on the production of one of the most experienced frontcourts in the country.
The Hurricanes’ frontcourt provides a huge amount of versatility that can create a number of mismatches for opposing teams.
Senior center Julian Gamble is the heart and soul of this Miami frontcourt. Although his numbers are not breathtaking at 6.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, he is relied upon heavily for his defensive presence, leading Miami with 1.8 blocks per game.
Forward Kenny Kadji is a matchup nightmare for many opposing teams. He is known as a stretch four, which means he is a power forward with the ability to shoot the long-range jump shot.
Throughout the season, Kadji has shot a respectable 35.7 percent from behind the arc. However, at 6’11”, Kadji is also a threat in the low post and is tied with Reggie Johnson as the ‘Canes leading rebounder at 7.0 rebounds per game.
Speaking of Reggie Johnson, in many ways, he could be the x-factor for the Hurricanes' frontcourt. In limited minutes this season, Johnson is averaging 7.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
During his sophomore season, Johnson averaged 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game and during his junior season, he averaged 10.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Johnson has been limited this year due to injury, but with his potential, he could become a huge factor in the NCAA tournament.
The experience of Miami’s frontcourt also provides a tremendous advantage for them as well. Kadji, Johnson and Gamble are all seniors, which is very rare in today’s college basketball world.
7'0" center, Tonye Jekiri, who also receives frontcourt minutes for the ‘Canes, is the only freshman on the roster who plays significant minutes. One of the key components for many previous national championship winning teams has been experience and the ‘Canes have plenty.
In analyzing their road to the Final Four, the Hurricanes possess one of the deepest frontcourts in their region. This will likely give them an advantage in every tournament game the team plays in. If the Hurricanes’ frontcourt is able to flex their muscle and exercise their advantage, the ‘Canes could potentially make their first Final Four in program history.
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