Miami’s up and down season came to a thudding end last night with a disappointing loss to Minnesota in the second round of the NIT. But we would be remiss if we did not reflect on that was if nothing else an eventful year.
The 11-12 ‘Canes Hoops Timeline:
April 5, 2011: Frank Haith resigns after 7 mediocre seasons in Miami, One NCAA Tournament appearance, and 129-101 record. Little did we know at the time the Haith era was unfortunately, far from over.
April 23, 2011: In a surprise move Miami announces the hiring of former George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga. Many speculated UM would make a run at Kansas State’s Frank Martin. But the ‘Canes instead go with the 61-year-old Larranaga who brings an energetic approach and Final Four experience to Coral Gables.
May 5, 2011: Josh invents “Category 6″ a grassroots movement/blog site designed on building support for Miami’s traditionally under supported hoops team, as well as all things UM. ‘Canes hoops, the Blog world as we know it, and our lives (or lack there of) will never be the same.
July 1, 2011: C Reggie Johnson suffers a torn meniscus in a pickup game with teammates. Johnson who is perhaps Miami’s most important player, is expected to miss 5-6 months.
August 23, 2011: C/F Julian Gamble tears his ACL and is out for the year. With Johnson already down, Miami’s front court is suddenly extremely thin before a single game is played.
November 10, 2011: On the eve of the hoops season UM announces that F DeQuan Jones, their most athletic player, will sit out the entire season amidst allegations his family received $10,000 from Nevin Shapiro to commit to Miami.
December 17, 2011: Reggie Johnson returns to the line-up and UM beats FAU 93-90 in OT. Johnson goes for 15 points 9 rebounds 5 assists and 5 blocks in one of his two best performances of the year.
December 21st 2011: With the help of his attorney, DeQuan Jones is reinstated after missing 10 games. The Shapiro allegations as they pertain to DQJ seem to be completely debunked. Miami suddenly seems like a deep and dangerous squad.
December 22nd, 2011: In tragic news, Malcolm Grant’s 36-year-old brother Yatti, dies of a heart attack. Grant would miss the next 2 games and struggle though out the year. The tragedy reminds us all that there are more important things in life than basketball.
January 21, 2012: G/F Garrius Adams, who began the year as a starter has knee surgery and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks. Coach L also announced that freshman G Bishop Daniels is injured and will redshirt this season.
January 22, 2012: Miami loses to NC State 78-73 at home. UM shoots just 2-20 from downtown. After the game Coach L questions the teams intensity.
February 5, 2012: Miami extends its winning streak to 5 in a row with a shocker, defeating Duke 78-74 in OT on the road. Reggie Johnson is a man amongst boys with 27 points and 12 rebounds, and suddenly the ‘Canes are mentioned as an NCAA Tournament caliber team.
A Star is Born??? Over a 5 game stretch streak Kenny Kadji is unstoppable, averaging 17.5 ppg 8.1 rpg 2.0 blcks and knocks down 8-16 from long-range.
February 15, 2012: In one of the most outrageously one-sided officiated games you will ever see, Miami loses AT HOME to UNC 73-64. The ‘Canes build an early lead and play extremely well at times, but can not overcome a 23-8 FT advantage for the Heels. Miami now sits squarely on the NCAA bubble coming down the stretch.
February 21, 2012: Miami loses a heart breaker 75-70 at Maryland. UM controls the game through out but fails to execute down the stretch. Miami goes nearly 9 minutes with out a FG and gives up several huge offensive rebounds in the collapse. The ‘Canes NCAA hopes seem to be faded.
February 26, 2012: Just hours before a critical game against FSU, Miami announces that Reggie Johnson is ineligible due to travel benefits his family received from the previous coaching staff (Haith).
Despite not having Johnson in the line-up Miami plays perhaps their best game of the season, annihilating FSU 78-62 behind a strong performance from Durand Scott. Miami’s NCAA hopes suddenly are revitalized.
February 29, 2012: Miami shoots itself in the foot by losing 77-73 to fellow bubble opponent NC State. Miami loses despite the reinstatement of Johnson earlier in the day.
March 9 2012: After defeating GT in the first round of the ACC Tournament, Miami is set to face FSU in the quarterfinals in their most important game of the season. Just hours before tip-off it is announced that Durand Scott is ineligible for receiving improper benefits from the previous coaching staff (Haith). In an atrociously officiated game, UM is defeated 82-71. Their bubble appears to have burst.
March 14, 2012: UM announces Scott will be reinstated after serving a 6 game suspension. Miami defeats Valpo 66-50 in the first round of the NIT.
March 19, 2012: The ‘Canes play perhaps their worst game of the season and lose at home to Minnesota in a near empty Bank United Center. The season, ends sadly.
Overall the season can not be judged as either a failure or a success. While the team did not accomplish its goals, it would be hard to argue that any team in America faced more distractions, adversity, or flat-out bad luck than Miami.
Newcomers Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney-Jones, and Kenny Kadji all showed incredible promise.
Larkin, just a true freshman, saved his best for last. The son of hall-of-fame baseball player Barry Larkin, averaged 7.4 ppg 2.5 rpg 2.5 apg and 1.6 stls. Larkin may already be one of the quickest players in the country and played exceptionally well at the end of the season. If his floor game improves he could become a superstar.
McKinney Jones averaged 7 ppg 3.5 rpg and shot 37.5 % from downtown. TMJ hit several clutch shots throughout the year and at times was Miami’s most consistent player.
Kadji finished the year averaging 12.0 ppg 5.4 rpg 1.6 blcks, and shot 42.4% from downtown. At times K2 was the ‘Canes best player. At 6’11 he needs to improve on his rebounding. If he does not only will he be an ALL ACC player, he will find himself in the NBA.
While Rion Brown averaged only 6.9 ppg on the season, expect more from him next year. Brown averaged 14.7 ppg over the last 4 games of the season. Along with the prettiest stroke on the team, Brown showed off explosive athleticism in 11-12. Expect his star to rise with the graduation of Malcolm Grant opening up minutes next season.
What needs to happen next year for Miami to dance??
1) Reggie Johnson needs to return to the form that made him a star as a sophomore. Johnson really only played to his potential 2 or 3 times all season. The injury and conditioning clearly hurt Big Reg.
2) Kenny Kadji needs to get stronger. Kadji is an incredibly skilled big man. But the ‘Canes gave up far too many offensive rebounds this year. Kadji can really elevate his game to the next level by getting stronger and becoming a force on the glass next year.
3) Shane Larkin takes over the team. Larkin’s talent, hustle, and skills are undeniable. If he takes the reigns and becomes the all world point guard he is capable of becoming, Miami is a very dangerous squad.
4) Durand Scott has a big senior season. Scott plays all out all the time. Scott was solid this year averaging 12.9 ppg 5.4 rpg and 3.1 apg. But I can’t help but feel Scott left some plays on the floor during crunch time.
5) Rion Brown becomes a consistent force. Nuff said. His ability is obvious.
With that being said an entertaining season is concluded with the hopes that next year promises to be just as exciting, more successful, and less eventful off the court.