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Scouting Miami

Traditionally, Frank Haith's teams tend to be fast-paced, guard-oriented units dependent upon the deftness of its long-range shooters. This season, however, the Hurricanes' personnel has mandated a different approach, one that focuses more on an inside-out game that takes advantage of its front court talents.

To be sure, Miami (12-3, 1-1 ACC) still relies on swift-shooting senior guard Jack McClinton (6-foot-1, 185 lbs.) for significant offensive production, but when I spoke with Haith, Miami's fifth-year head coach, on Monday afternoon he said this Hurricanes squad is more dynamic than those in recent memory because McClinton doesn't always necessarily have to carry the load by himself.

"I think there's no question we're more inside-out," Haith said. "I think we're a more post-oriented team and that's where we've gotta develop that part of our game first and then our perimeter part of it will come playing off of that. Our perimeter guys are going to do what they need to do, but I think it makes us a more well-rounded team and a more consistent team if you're able to establish the paint part of it."

McClinton is averaging a team-high 16.9 points per game and is shooting 46.5 percent from three-point range. He tallied 27 points on Nov. 23 against UConn and 23 points on Dec. 6 at Kentucky, but Saturday night in a 77-71 win at Boston College, McClinton fouled out late in a close game with just 12 points on 4 of 12 shooting from the field. That the Hurricanes still managed to win the game was a tribute to the development and maturity of the other players on Miami's roster, according to Haith.

"We've got some other guys, and we need guys like Brian Asbury, guys like James Dews to step up and be consistent scorers for us offensively," Haith said. "There's gonna be nights where Jack's gonna have one of those games where he goes for 25 or whatever, but we need that third and fourth scorer, and I think James Dews and Brian Asbury can be that for us."

Asbury (6-foot-7, 221 lbs.) is a senior forward who recently worked his way into the starting lineup. He is averaging 6.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He also has tallied 14 steals. Dews (6-foot-4, 209 lbs.) is a junior guard who started earlier in the season but now comes off the bench. He is averaging 9.2 points per game. Asbury and Dews tallied 13 and 12 points, respectively, Saturday night against Boston College and were two of five Hurricanes to score in double figures.

The player outside of McClinton who has made the most impact this season has been junior forward Dwayne Collins (6-foot-8, 238 lbs.). Collins is averaging 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. He also has recorded 17 steals and is shooting 61.1 percent from the field.

"I think he's got himself in the right frame of mind," Haith said earlier Monday on the ACC coaches teleconference. "It's all about the mental approach in terms of getting himself ready to play and being consistent. Thus far, he's done that. When Dwayne is a consistent player, we're definitely a much better basketball team. He's a guy that I think if he does play to that level, he's as good as any post player in this league in terms of his ability.

"When we put Cyrus McGowan and even Adrian Thomas out there on the court with him, both of those guys can shoot the basketball, so it's kind of opened up the court for him in terms of allowing him some space in the post and being one-on-one in the post. In the past, the times that people have hurt us with Dwayne is when they've doubled us and tried to take him away. He's worked on handling double teams a lot better. He's passing the ball a lot better out of double teams."

McGowan (6-foot-9, 236 lbs.) is a junior forward who starts and averages 7.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He also has a team-high 13 blocks and is shooting 47.4 percent (9 for 19) from beyond the arc. Thomas (6-foot-7, 227 lbs.) is a junior forward who averages just 11.3 minutes per game, but has taken on a more significant role of late. He played 24 minutes against Boston College and scored 11 points.

While Haith acknowledged the importance of his big men, he also pointed to the crucial role senior guard Lance Hurdle (6-foot-2, 183 lbs.) plays for his team. Hurdle suffered a high ankle sprain near the beginning of fall camp and missed the entire preseason. As a result, Haith said, Hurdle struggled mightily to regain his "rhythm" and only now is returning to form.

Haith said Hurdle's role is important because he is the ball-handler that takes some of the responsibility of running the offense off of McClinton's shoulders. Hurdle has tallied 35 assists to 19 turnovers so far and is averaging 7.4 points per game.

Ball-handling has been a bit of an issue for the Hurricanes, who have recorded 198 assists to 200 turnovers and hold a negative average turnover margin. Haith said he understands that issue will be of the utmost importance and may determine his team's chances for success Wednesday night against Maryland.

"The fact that they're turning people over at a high rate right now, I'm concerned with that cause we didn't handle the pressure very well against Clemson," said Haith, whose team tallied 22 turnovers in a 91-72 loss on Dec. 21 against the Tigers. "We've got to do a good job of handling the ball against their pressure and we've got to make sure we get to their guys on the perimeter that can shoot the ball."

By Steve Yanda  |  January 13, 2009; 7:09 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: 'It's All About Jack McClinton'


"Ball-handling has been a bit of an issue for the Hurricanes, who have recorded 198 assists to 200 turnovers and hold a negative average turnover margin."

Music to my ears...go get 'em, Terps full-court pressure.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | January 13, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

This is a pretty big game for MD. Looking at the ACC they have 4 games they should win (@GT and BC, UVA and VT at home), 4 toss ups (@FSU, Miami, @NCS, @UVA) and the rest are games the Terps will be lucky to win. 9 wins makes the tourney and they have 1 already so if you win th eones you're supposed to and split the toss up you still need 2 upsets. Outside of one shocker at home (Wake, Duke, UNC) @Miami is probably their best chance. The Terps could be sitting pretty after 3 ACC games if they are 3-0 or 2-1 with a quality win over Miami @ Miami. Thing will look pretty bleak at 1-2. Big games Wed and Saturday... Go Terps!

Posted by: Lee26 | January 13, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

So nothing's given, it all depends on who's up and who's down, lady luck, and sunspot activity. Our Terps are less predictable than Miami but the outcome will be certain if our guys shoot as badly as they did in the last two games. Question for the knowledgeable out there: does coach William's behavior on the sideline have a demoralizing effect on his team? Today's youth don't well tolerate criticism.

Posted by: AncientTerp | January 13, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't see how you could say his actions on the sideline are getting the team down. This team has won most of the close games it has played in this year. I don't think a player agrees to come to MD that is affraid to be yelled at. And I don't think thats a bad thing honestly. Personally I don't want a bunch of thin skinned coddled sissys on the Terps...

Posted by: Lee26 | January 13, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

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