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Previewing Miami

I didn't write much in the immediate aftermath of NC State's loss to Miami last season, what with it being a defeat of the we-really-should-have-won-this-game variety. After those types of games, my disgust is such that I'm usually unable to accomplish anything constructive--unless you count cursing.

This year's Miami team is essentially unchanged from the team we saw last January. Guillermo Diaz, Robert Hite and Anthony Harris are back and leading the 'Canes guard-oriented offense (though Harris has missed seven games because of injury). Anthony King and Gary Hamilton are still grabbing a lot of rebounds.

(Four Factors)

Miami Offense 2004-2005Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG48.6195Turnover Rate18.442Off Reb Rate38.518FTM/FGA19.9306Miami Offense 2005-2006Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG54.933Turnover Rate22.3161Off Reb Rate42.415FTM/FGA25.8144

The starters (reference for some of the numbers found below):

Guillermo Diaz (6-2, 192) -- Diaz made his skills painfully evident in last season's game, scoring 26 points on 9-17 shooting. He's off to a great start this season and has not had to carry as much of the scoring load as he did in '05.

Robert Hite (6-2, 190) -- Shooting the ball really well this season (PPFGA = 1.35). Like Diaz, Hite's usage level (i.e., the number of possessions he uses) is down, and perhaps he is enjoying the benefits.

Denis Clemente (6-0, 165) -- Look, it's the new Anthony Harris! Clemente is a freshman who's been thrown right into the action, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised at his inefficiency. In what has otherwise been a good shooting group of starters, Clemente has been the glaring exception. He's the only Miami starter with a PPFGA under 1.10 (his is 0.94). As Anthony Harris gets back into game shape, he will steal more and more of Clemente's minutes. Let's all thank Denis in advance for his (presumably) poor shot selection.

Anthony King (6-9, 235) -- King was a big reason why the U bludgeoned the Wolfpack on the offensive boards last season (he had 6 OR by himself). Through nine games this season, King is one of the ACC's most prolific rebounders. He's averaging 12.8 rebs/40 and has a rebounding percentage over 19%. He's also become a bigger part of the offense, using 20.5% of his team's possessions compared to a meager 13% in 2005. King wasn't much of a scoring factor against Michigan or Temple, so I'm still skeptical about how much he'll be involved against the Pack. He sprained his ankle against Michigan about three weeks ago and I don't know to what degree that's bothering him (if it is at all).

Jimmy Graham (6-8, 245) -- Another freshman. Despite starting, Graham doesn't see a lot of playing time. His rebounding is meh and he turns the ball over too much to be a consistent scoring threat.

At the forward spot, we should also see plenty of Raymond Hicks and Gary Hamilton, both of whom have been playing as much as Graham has. Hamilton is King's partner in rebounding crime, and his rebounding numbers are every bit as good as King's.

Anthony Harris is back from a fractured right foot, but Frank Haith is easing him into games from the bench. I wouldn't be surprised if that changes for Sunday's game. Regardless of whether or not Harris starts, he should see the most minutes he's seen all season.

Miami Defense 2004-2005Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG44.749Turnover Rate20.8236Off Reb Rate27.846FTA/FGA40.1220Miami Defense 2005-2006Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG49.5178Turnover Rate19.2249Off Reb Rate31.1114FTA/FGA29.939

Miami is not a particularly good defensive team, despite its big reboundy guys. One of the culprits is perimeter defense. In 2005, Hurricanes opponents scored 35% of their points from behind the arc. Only nine teams allowed opponents to score a higher proportion of their points via the three-pointer.

In last year's meeting, NC State took full advantage of that perimeter defense, hitting 12-24 threes (it is still amazing to me that we lost despite hitting so many threes at such a high percentage).

I expect more of the same this Sunday, and I also expect the Wolfpack to rebound better at the defensive end. NC State wins, 68-60.