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Previewing Miami: Pack must avoid being torched by an Angel

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 8 p.m. ET, Jan. 22

TV: ACC Network (Bob Rathbun, Cory Alexander)

Online streaming: ESPN3

Radio: Sirius 126, XM 194, Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Miami vitals

Record: 12-5 (2-2)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 46
RPI: No. 55
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 3
Best win: Duke (No. 8 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: Eastern Kentucky (No. 86 in Pomeroy Ratings)

Adjusted tempo: 64.2 poss/40 minutes (ranks 243rd)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 110.5 (ranks 33rd)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 97.4 (ranks 101st)

Miami @ StatSheet
Miami roster
Miami schedule
Miami 2014 stats / 2015 stats

The Miami offense and starters

Miami Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 47.6 (253) 17.2 (90) 33.5 (100) 36.1 (287)
2014-15 52.6 (49) 16.0 (22) 28.8 (244) 33.4 (265)

After a year spent rebuilding, or rather, waiting for transfers Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan to become eligible, Jim Larranaga has the Miami Hurricanes back in position for another run at the NCAAs. The Hurricanes look much different offensively thanks to the influence of those additions, by which I mean they are no longer an eyesore.

The adjustment Larranaga made last season to help his punchless roster was to sloooooooow the games down. No team in the country played at a slower tempo. This year that's not so much necessary, but it isn't like the Hurricanes are suddenly pushing the ball up the floor at every opportunity. Larranaga has always had halfcourt teams, just not quite to the extreme degree of 2014.

The additions of Rodriguez and McClellan have in part led Miami to lean more on three-pointers. About 40% of their field goal attempts this season have come from beyond the arc, so they've been bombing away like the ol' Herb Sendek NCSU teams of yore. The Canes have the most perimeter-oriented offense in the league this season.

Six Miami players have attempted at least 30 three-pointers, led by Rodriguez, who's shot 100 of 'em (and hit 36). Five of the six are shooting at least 34% from deep, so the Canes have a lot of reliable options. It's no wonder they've attempted so many.

As a result, they've improved to 56th in 3FG% from 269th last year. They've also made significant strides inside the arc, led by McClellan's stellar efficiency and improvement from big man Tonye Jekiri, who leads the league in most awesome name to say out loud. TONYE JEKIRI TONYE JEKIRI TONYE JEKIRI.

I'm easily entertained.

Miami is slightly better at protecting the ball this season, but really the difference offensively is all in the shooting. Basketball's a simple game sometimes.


Angel Rodriguez (5-11, 180) -- The trick to limiting or stopping Rodriguez is to force him into tough/contested two-point shots, though this is not so easily done. Rodriguez has textbook Short Guy Problems, as he's hitting only 36.2% of his twos. He is shooting 36% from three. He's a career 38% shooter inside the arc--it's never been a strength of his.

Deandre Burnett (6-2, 195) -- The player with the highest offensive workload on the team is ... this guy? Why yes, this guy! Burnett is one of those players who is going to be damn sure he makes the most of his time on the floor, because he doesn't log a ton of minutes. You know the type. He's taking 28.6% of Miami's shots while on the court, which is a shade higher than Rodriguez's number. Under the circumstances, the results could be much worse, but at 30.8% from three and 45.2% from two, Burnett should be a bit more deferential.

Sheldon McClellan (6-5, 205) -- McClellan is having a career year--like Trevor Lacey, he's making the most of his change in scenery. The Texas transfer is hitting 80% of his free throws, almost 61% of his twos, and nearly 38% of his threes. Dude is handling an above-average workload and leads the team in scoring, but it feels to me like he could use even more looks. That's just some damned impressive scoring efficiency, across the board.

Omar Sherman (6-8, 260) -- OMAR COMIN' Y'ALL *whistles*

Tonye Jekiri (7-0, 244) -- Jekiri has been an excellent role player for the U this season, giving the team some things it isn't getting elsewhere. He's easily the team's best shot blocker and rebounds well at both ends. His 27.0 defensive rebounding percentage ranks 20th nationally; essentially he's grabbing a quarter of the available defensive boards while he is on the court. There's big value in that. He's not a bad shooter (52.5 2FG%), either, he just doesn't get a lot of opportunities.

The Miami bench and defense

Reserves: Manu Lecomte (5-11, 170), James Palmer (6-5, 200), Davon Reed (6-6, 208), Ja'Quan Newton (6-2, 185), Joe Thomas (6-7, 245). Lecomte is a career 42% three-point shooter, and he's shooting north of 44% this season. With his shooting accuracy up across the board, he's been a good third option for Miami at the offensive end.

Palmer also has been a dangerous outside shooter though his minutes have been limited. Thomas rebounds well offensively but shoots so rarely as to be invisible, and that's fine since a larger workload ain't gonna help anybody. Fun fact! Thomas is 29-97 (29.9%) at the free throw line in 3+ seasons. That's gross, son. Real gross.

Miami Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 47.0 (71) 16.4 (291) 30.4 (122) 31.2 (21)
2014-15 46.7 (98) 17.8 (275)
31.2 (173) 24.9 (7)

Miami's interior defense isn't what it was in 2013 or 2014, what with less size on the floor. Opponents are hitting 45.5% of their twos, and if we include only league games, that number is almost 50%. That's worrisome for a team that isn't good at forcing turnovers and only average at grabbing defensive boards.

What Miami does do well is limit production from free throws. They aren't merely keeping teams off the line with a low foul rate--opponents have hit only 62% at the line. Lucky, you say? Whatever, their free throw defense is out of this world, man. (Important note: free throw defense is still not actually a thing.)

That impressive combination of luck and skill means that opponents get only about 14% of their scoring from the stripe, well below the national average of 20.9%. When the Canes get beat, it's not usually at the free throw line.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes Miami by three.