NC State vs. Miami preview: Back into the zone we go

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami @ StatSheet
2014 Stats
2014 Roster
2014 Schedule

Miami Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 47.3 264
Turnover Rate 18.0 144
Off Reb Rate 32.3 149
FT Rate
33.3 318

Jim Larranaga re-tooled after Miami lost a bunch of starters, leading to the Hurricanes' adoption of the zone on the defensive side and a more deliberate and plodding pace offensively. Larranaga wanted to slow the pace at both ends of the floor, which he's been able to do. The Hurricanes rank dead last in the nation with an average of 58.7 possessions per 40 minutes. In league play, that average is just 56.7.

Gross though those numbers might seem, they represent a shrewd move--Miami was likely to be considerably less efficient on offense this season, and that's proven to be the case. It hasn't forced the Canes far from their comfort zone, either, since they were pretty slow last season, too.

Shortening the game like this in an effort to mask their sub-par offense almost paid off big on a couple of occasions; the Hurricanes dropped a five-point game at Syracuse, and on Wednesday lost by four to Pittsburgh in overtime. The trouble of course is that while you might be able to create more close games playing this way, you also bring more random, dumb luck into the picture. Miami has played five OT games this season, losing four of them. Going super slo-mo is a calculated risk, but with this roster, the right one.

Starters

Manu Lecomte (5-11, 159) -- His 40..9% shooting from beyond the arc leads the team, though he isn't taking a lot of them--just 44 so far which puts him behind three other players in that category.

Garrius Adams (6-6, 200) -- Adams is the second-leading scorer on the team behind Rion Brown, but this is more a function of workload than efficiency. He actually has a sub-40 effective field goal percentage and has made just 20 of 85 three-point attempts. Outside shooting has never been a strength of his, but this season, it's been particularly painful, in part because he has to be on the floor a lot. He's also shooting just 43.4% from two, which is the second-lowest mark of his career.

Rion Brown (6-6, 211) -- Brown had to step into a more significant role for Miami this season, and he's done it, posting career-highs in FT% and 2FG% while upping his workload considerably. He is also a pretty good outside shooter, with his attempts split about 50-50 between twos and threes.

Donnavan Kirk (6-9, 228) -- Larranaga's predecessor found a transfer or two who could step in at the right time and make positive contributions. Kirk is another of those--he is valuable for what he can do for the Canes at the defensive end, which is block shots. He's also a passable scorer in the paint (51.4 2FG%) and just good enough from three to force defenses to respect that shot.

Tonye Jekiri (7-0, 235) -- Dude needs quite a bit of work, though like Kirk, he helps the Canes zone work effectively by disrupting opposing shooters.

Bench

Eric Swoope (6-5, 220), Davon Reed (6-6, 208), James Kelly (6.7, 246). Kelly, a junior college transfer, has impressive numbers overall, but is clearly struggling with the transition into conference play. Overall, he's hit 55.2% of his twos; in league play, however, the number is considerably lower.

Reed, a freshman, has been assertive. The lack of accuracy inside the arc (31%) wouldn't be such a hindrance if he were shying away from those shots more frequently. As it is, his attempts are split between two and three, where he is hitting 36.9%. Might be a good idea for him to become more three-inclined.

Miami Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 45.7 50
Turnover Rate 17.2 255
Off Reb Rate 31.2 160
FT Rate
29.9 13

Miami's interior defense has been excellent, while they've forced more three-point attempts without getting snakebitten in the luck department there. The Hurricanes' defensive rebounding has declined significantly, not surprisingly, and when coupled with a turnover rate in conference play that ranks among the ACC's worst, the results have been mixed.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Miami by four.

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