'It's All About Jack McClinton'
Ohio State assistant coach Archie Miller doesn't expect Maryland to have much trouble putting up points against Miami on Wednesday night. The question, Miller said, would be whether the Terps can keep the Hurricanes and top-threat Jack McClinton from lighting up the scoreboard.
"They really, really struggle to defend guys off screens and guys who can really put the ball on the floor," said Miller, whose Ohio State team defeated Miami, 73-68, on Dec. 2. "I don't think that they're built defensively as a really solid defensive team. I do feel like, offensively, if you execute your system, if you get some stops in transition, I think their personnel, especially their big guys get lost at times helping and get lost at times in transition. Teams that do a good job offensively executing their system will score points."
Miami is tied (with Maryland) for fourth in the ACC in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of 61.9 points per game.
Though Miami Coach Frank Haith touted his team's balance this season, several coaches of teams that have played the Hurricanes this season said there remains one focal point when preparing to defend Haith's squad.
"It's all about Jack McClinton," Robert Morris assistant coach Levi Franklin said.
McClinton scored 24 points on 6 of 13 shooting from the field during a 70-62 win over Robert Morris on Dec. 14. Franklin said his team struggled to communicate on defense early in the game and lost track of where McClinton was on the court.
Keeping track of McClinton was Ohio State's primary focus, according to Miller, who said defenders must be aware of McClinton's location even before he crosses mid-court.
"One of the big things with (McClinton) is when the ball crosses half-court in transition, whether he has it or he doesn't have it, the team has to be aware of finding him before he crosses half court because his range and his ability to shoot the ball either off the catch or off the dribble starts very early," Miller said. "You watch him play and watch Miami play in general, they're going to take the ball kind of quick in transition if they have it, especially him. He loves to get off early, shooting the ball from deep. The more you're aware of finding him with or without the ball before he crosses half court, we felt that was key for us in the game."
The Buckeyes, though, didn't have to worry about McClinton for too long. He was ejected after just eight minutes of play. Still, he scored 12 points on 4 of 4 shooting from beyond the arc.
As for Miami's frontcourt, Miller praised the development of junior forward Dwayne Collins, stating that Collins was the first player the Hurricanes have had in a while who was capable of catching the ball down low and scoring on a consistent basis.
Miami's development in terms of rebounding also stood out to Miller.
"They beat people because their guards score in transition and they really hurt you on the offensive glass with their size," he said. "They really do a good job of rotating those (post players) and getting extra opportunities for their team. If you're going to beat Miami, you have to do one of two things: Contain their transition game and Jack McClinton, and you have to do a very good job of rebounding the ball on your defensive glass, cause if they get second opportunities with their bigs in and around the basket, they can cause a lot of problems for you."
One area in which Miller said a team that specializes in pressure defense, such as Maryland, could capitalize against Miami is forcing turnovers.
"With their team in general, with two point guards playing at the same time (McClinton and Lance Hurdle), they have two guys who can handle themselves well," Miller said. "I think anytime that you're able to get one of the two point guards off the floor, when McClinton's off the floor, I think their ball-handling becomes a definite issue and in our game, obviously we press and at that time we were pressuring a lot. When they only had one ball-handler in the game, we tried to take the ball out of his hands and make other guys make plays. Obviously it was earlier in the year and I'm sure they're better at it now. But I do think ball-handling and decision-making is an issue for them when McClinton doesn't have the ball or one of their point guards is off the floor."
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