Believe it or not, the first ACC game of the season is coming up. Virginia Tech will take on Miami in Coral Gables on Sunday afternoon, and both teams will be looking to get off to a good start in conference play.
The Hurricanes are the defending ACC Champions. Kind of. In reality, almost every contributing member of that team is gone, and Miami is only a shell of last year’s group. They are 5-4 so far this year, and here is how their games have gone…
St. Francis Brooklyn: 66-62 OT L
Georgia Southern: 81-80 OT W
Texas Southern: 84-69 W
College of Charleston: 70-54 W
UCF: 63-58 L
George Washington: 71-63 L
Cal State Fullerton: 48-46 W
Arizona State: 60-57 W
Nebraska: 60-49 L
This is a struggling basketball team that is very close to having losses to Georgia Southern and Cal State Fullerton on their resume, to go along with a loss to St. Francis Brooklyn. The Hokies have an excellent chance to steal a road win on Sunday.
Miami has used several different starting combinations this season as Jim Larranaga gets used to all his new players. Miami hasn’t produced any game notes for the Tech game as of yet, so I’ll just use their starting lineup from their last game against Nebraska.
G Rion Brown (6-6, 211, Sr.): Brown is one of Miami’s most experienced players. He’s always been a good scorer off the bench for the Canes, but this year he is leading the team in scoring by averaging 13.8 points per game. He also leads the team with 27 assists.
G Davon Reed (6-6, 208, Fr.): Reed has started three games for “The U”. The freshman is averaging 8.9 points while shooting 41.5% from three-point range.
G Garrius Adams (6-6, 200, r-Sr.): A North Carolina native, Adams was recruited by Virginia Tech. He redshirted last season, so he did not get to take part in the best season in Miami history. He is averaging 10.7 points per game this year, though as usual his shooting is very inconsistent and suspect. He is shooting just 33% from the field and 19.4% from three-point range.
F James Kelly (6-7, 246, Jr.): Kelly has started five of Miami’s nine games, and he’s averaging nine points and five rebounds per game. He is a JUCO who is playing his first year of Division I basketball.
F Donnavan Kirk (6-9, 228, r-Sr.): Kirk has pulled the rare double-transfer from his career. He played for Miami for two years before transferring to DePaul. Last season he led DePaul with 50 blocks and he started 30 games. This year he’s back playing for Miami without sitting out a year, and that’s a perfectly legal transfer for grad students. He is averaging 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds on the season, and he leads the team with 19 blocks.
Miami has limited options off the bench…
G Manu Lecomte (5-11, 159, Fr.): Lecomte has started six games for Miami this season, and he’ll run the point for most of the game whether he comes off the bench or starts. He is a true freshman from Belgium, he’s a true point guard who looks to pass. However, he’s undersized, and he’s struggled with his shot so far this season.
C Tonye Jekiri (7-0, 235, So.): Jekiri plays 16.6 minutes per game, usually off the bench. He doesn’t finish well, particularly for his size (37.1% FG), and despite his height he only has four blocks on the season.
F Erik Swoope (6-5, 220, Sr.): Swoope is a limited player who averaged 7.8 minutes and 1.7 points per game in his first three seasons at Miami. Despite the youth on this basketball team, he’s only averaging 9.8 minutes per game this year.
So far this season, the Canes have been a team who have royally struggled to shoot the basketball. They are only 40.6% from the field and 30.7% from three-point range. Overall, I like Virginia Tech’s talent level more than Miami’s.
However, what will Virginia Tech’s lineup look like on Sunday afternoon. Adam Smith missed the last game with a calf injury, and Ben Emelogu is still battle concussion symptoms. Will those guys play on Sunday? I don’t know. If they do, then I believe the Hokies have a chance to leave Coral Gables with a win.