Hurricanes go ice cold, miss 41 shots in Sweet 16 loss to Marquette

6 Comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Never has MIA been a more fitting nickname for Miami.

The Miami Hurricanes entered Thursday night’s NCAA tournament East regional semifinal with Marquette as one of the nation’s top field-goal shooting teams and were ranked in the top-50 in effective field-goal percentage. But after 20 minutes of play, the No. 2-seed Hurricanes had just 16 points on 6-for-29 shooting, including a paltry 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. The second half wasn’t much better, and the end result was a disappointing 71-61 loss to Marquette at the Verizon Center.

Just three Hurricane players scored in double-figures. Shane Larkin finished with 14 points, Kenny Kadji added 11 points and Durand Scott chipped in with ten. But Kadji went 5-for-12 from the field and Scott finished 3-for-13.

Marquette made it a goal to force Larkin to rely on his teammates for offensive production, and while the Hurricanes got some open looks, very few of them fell in. “They did a great job in guarding the ball screen,” said sophomore guard Shane Larkin, who was just one of three Miami players to shoot at least 50% from the field. “They were pretty much trapping me and trying to get the ball out of my hands, and it was frustrating not being able to attack it because they were trying to get it out of my hands.”

While Marquette did have a great game plan, much of Miami’s struggles were self-inflicted.

“This is fact, it’s not fiction, it’s not an excuse. We didn’t prepare for this game,” said head coach Jim Larranaga following his team’s season-ending loss. “we didn’t practice on Monday. On Tuesday in the first rebounding drill we did, Durand Scott caught an elbow in the mouth. We didn’t have him, and then Raphael Akpejiori hurt his hand. We didn’t have him. We only have 11 scholarship guys eligible, we were down to 8 so practice wasn’t great without Durand, Reggie (Johnson), and last night Shane Larkin ended up throwing up all night, didn’t eat this morning, didn’t eat until the pregame meal at 3:00, so I think those guys didn’t have the juice that they normally do.”

Miami didn’t play terrible, but when an opponent is hitting shots and you aren’t, things don’t tend to work in your favor. “The game is very simple,” said Larranaga. “There are only two things you have to do in basketball one put the ball in the basket, two, stop the other team from putting the ball in the basket. We weren’t able to do either.”

Marquette finished 27-for-50 (54%) from the field, their best NCAA tournament shooting performance since the 2003 Elite Eight against Kentucky, in which they shot 56.4-percent from the field. But it also helped the Golden Eagles that Miami was missing their biggest space-eater, Reggie Johnson, who did not make the trip due to minor knee surgery.

“We definitely missed Reggie tonight,” said Larkin. “I think his size could have affected Otule and Gardner and they just played a great game. You can’t take anything away from them. There is no excuse on our end. Somebody had to step up and we as a team didn’t do that tonight.”

This was a Miami team that may predicted to win the East region and advance to the Final Four. You have to win fours game to make it to the Final Four, and usually, a team has to win one game in which they didn’t have their best performance but still found a way to win. For whatever reason, Miami could not find a way to win.

It also doesn’t help when you miss 41 shots. Miami took 63 shots on Thursday night and made just 22 of them.

Now that Fort Myers, Fla., is affectionately known as “Dunk City”, Coral Gables might have to stick with the trend and change their name to “Brick City’.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

Leave a comment

N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

1 Comment

LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

Leave a comment

Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

Leave a comment

A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

Leave a comment

With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.