Hurricanes Basketball Preview: Durand Scott and Crew Are Ready To Bring the Pain

Danny DolphinAnalyst INovember 12, 2010

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 11:  L.D. Williams #42 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons guards Durand Scott #1 of the University of Miami Hurricanes in their first round game in the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 11, 2010 in Greensboro, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Miami Hurricanes basketball opens their regular season today against Jacksonville at 7:30 PM at BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

Although they finished a disappointing last in the ACC last season, there is reason for optimism this year. This team is young, hungry and ready to make moves in one of College basketball’s premiere conferences.

2009/10 Record: 20-13 (4-12 ACC, 12th)

Key Returning Players: G Durand Scott (10.3 PTS), C Reggie Johnson (6.4 PTS, 4.6 REB), G Malcolm Grant (9.6 PTS, 41% 3FG), F Adrian Thomas (7.3 PTS, 2.7 REB, 42% 3FG), G/F DeQuan Jones (5.7 PTS, 2.1 REB)

Key Players Leaving: F Cyrus McGowan, F Dwayne Collins, G James Dews

Coach: Frank Haith, 5 years, 88-73

Projected Starters:

G Durand Scott (So.)
G Malcolm Grant (Jr.)
F DeQuan Jones (Jr.)
F Adrian Thomas (Sr.)
C Reggie Johnson (So.)

Top Reserves: F Julian Gamble (Jr.), G Garrius Adams (So.), F Donnavan, Kirk (Fr.), G Rion Brown (Fr.), Erik Swoope (Fr.)

Frontcourt: Mammoth sized Reggie Johnson (6’10", 285 lbs) averaged 12.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in ACC tournament play. If his conditioning is good enough to garner 25-30 minutes a game, expect him to be a force in the paint this year. He has the chance to be one of the best UM bigs in a very long time. There aren’t many players in the conference, let alone the nation, who have the size and strength to match up with him.

Julian Gamble should play a similar role that Jimmy Graham provided a year ago. If he can be a physical, energetic presence on defense and on the boards it would be ideal.

DeQuan Jones is an elite athlete. He has really made his impact on the defensive end thus far. Offensively he’s at his best on the break, as he can finish with the best of them. His next step is incorporating a consistent perimeter game.

Sixth-year senior Adrian Thomas (6’7″, 230 lbs) provides some excellent versatility because of his ability to shoot from the perimter. Donnovan Kirk removes his redshirt this year and looks to make an impact inside, especially on the glass. Freshman Erik Swoope has one of the coolest basketball names I’ve ever heard. Let’s see if his game backs it up.

Backcourt: Durand Scott is the unquestioned go-to player entering his sophomore season. He played very well in ACC tournament play, averaging 14.3 points over three games.

Miami averaged 14.0 turnovers as a team last year, which ranked 7th in the conference. They need to shrink that number down a bit or the really good teams are going to give them problems.

Malcolm Grant is another long-range bomber who can help spread the floor. Freshman guard Rion Brown, a high-profile recruit, should get quality minutes off the bench.

How they will finish

This team is gushing with talent and just might be coach Haith’s most talented group in his five-year tenure with the Hurricanes.

They have a really balanced inside-out combination on offense this year with Scott and Johnson leading the way. If Johnson can develop into a consistent presence inside, it will help open everything up for Miami’s array of shooters.

Defensively, this squad has the potential to be elite. On offense they offer great versatility.  Look for Miami to finish towards the middle of the pack—likely anywhere from third to eighth—in a wide-open ACC conference. The defending national champion Blue Devils are head and shoulders above everyone else.

Anything less than a NCAA Tournament birth would be a major disappointment.

Prediction: 22-10 (9-7), 5th in ACC, NCAA Tournament Birth

First Five…