2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: #23 Miami at Virginia Tech

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(home games)
  • Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2010
  • Time: 7pm
  • TV: None

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Virginia Tech will face their second of three straight ranked opponents on
Wednesday night in Cassell Coliseum. The #23 Miami Hurricanes come to town fresh
off an exciting win over Wake Forest. The Canes will be looking to move towards
the top of the ACC standings and steal a big win on the road, while the Hokies
need to hold serve at home.

You probably haven’t heard very much about Miami this year, but they are a
very solid 15-1 (1-1 ACC) basketball team. Their recent 67-66 victory over Wake
Forest propelled them into the national rankings for the first time this season.
The Canes have played a soft schedule for the most part, but do have a few
quality wins.

Most notably, they defeated Wake Forest this past Saturday. Earlier in the
year, they knocked off South Carolina (85-70) and Minnesota (63-58). Minnesota
has a strong shot at an NCAA tournament bid, and South Carolina has an outside
chance as well. Miami’s only loss came in a 61-60 heartbreaker to Boston
College. Both of their ACC games have been decided by one point.

Despite the loss of dynamic guard Jack McClinton, this is Frank Haith’s
deepest and most talented basketball team since taking over at Miami.

Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
Durand Scott
6-3 195 Fr. 8.1 4.1
James Dews
6-4 213 Sr. 12.3 2.6
DeQuan Jones
6-6 219 So. 6.2 2.7
Cyrus McGowan
6-9 237 r-Sr. 4.8 3.9
Dwayne Collins
6-8 241 Sr. 12.9 8.6

The best player is without question senior post Dwayne Collins. Collins is
averaging 12.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, and keep in mind that he played
just 22 minutes per game in Miami’s non-conference schedule. The Canes blew out
so many teams that their starters were out of the game early. Collins played 30
minutes against Wake Forest this weekend and finished with 23 points and 11

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Virginia Tech has defeated Miami three times in a row. Two wins were easy
victories in the ACC tournament, and the third was a tough overtime win at Miami
last year. In the two easy wins, Dwayne Collins averaged two points and four
rebounds per game, and was a combined 0-of-7 from the field. The Hokies held
Miami to under 50 points in both games. In Tech’s 88-83 overtime win at Miami
last year, Collins finished with 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

For the Hokies, success against Miami has been simple recently. If they shut
down Collins, they win easily. If he has a big game, then things could go either
way. On Wednesday, Tech will need a good defensive and rebounding game from Jeff
Allen. Allen is a hot or cold player, and the Hokies can’t afford for him to
have one of his off nights.

Of course, Collins isn’t the only weapon Miami has. James Dews is a big,
experienced senior guard who is averaging over 12 points per game. Dews is a
very good jump shooter, connecting on 45.3% of his three-pointers this year. His
overall percentage is 53.4% from the field, an extremely high number for a wing.
Dews is a solid overall player, and along with Collins, the most experienced
player on this Miami team.

Durand Scott and DeQuan Jones represent the new era of Miami basketball. The
Canes are starting to get to the point where they can compete for a higher level
of recruit. Jones was the #19 player in the 2008 recruiting class, while Scott
was the #46 player in the 2009 class (rankings according to PrepStars). They
form the backbone of Miami’s basketball future.

Scott is running the point for the Canes, and he is a three-time ACC Freshman
of the Week. Scott has dished out 71 assists so far as a freshman, and he also
leads the team with 22 steals. He is a big, physical point guard. He’s not a
great outside shooter at this stage, but you can’t leave him alone to take the
open jumper.

DeQuan Jones is still a very raw player. Jones is a superior athlete who
still needs to refine his game, but the ability is there. He is a good mid-range
shooter, but you don’t have to guard him all the way out to the three-point
line. He has hit only two outside jumpers this season.

Cyrus McGowan is the fifth starter. A transfer from Arkansas, he is a big
body on the inside, but not as skilled as the other Miami players.

Malcolm Grant (6-1, 191, r-So.) is Miami’s top player off the bench, and
perhaps their most natural scorer overall. Grant is a transfer from Villanova,
where he averaged 5.6 points per game as a freshman two years ago. He is a top
notch three-point shooter, hitting 44.7% of his outside jumpers. He can also get
in the lane and finish well. Grant averages 10.8 points per game, including 16
points per game in two ACC contests. His future at Miami looks bright.

Another player to worry about is Adrian Thomas (6-7, 229, Sr.). Thomas is a
power forward, but 81 of his 93 shot attempts this year have been
three-pointers. He is shooting 44.4% from the outside, and he also has 27
assists and just eight turnovers. Thomas is one of the most skilled power
forwards in the ACC, though he’s far from the best on the inside.

Thomas, Malcolm Grant, James Dews and Durand Scott can all play at the same
time. They make for a very dangerous three-point shooting lineup.

Name Made Att. Pct.

Durand Scott
8 26 30.80%

Malcolm Grant
34 76 44.70%

James Dews
34 75 45.30%

Adrian Thomas
36 81 44.40%

112 258 43.40%

Those numbers are scary. As a team, Miami shoots 39.9% from three-point range,
which is third in the ACC.

The Canes also have more size on the inside, besides Collins and McGowan.
Reggie Johnson (6-10, 295, r-Fr.) is the biggest physical specimen the Hokies
will see this year. He’s not as athletic as most ACC post players, but he
obviously has great size. Julian Gamble (6-9, 255, So.) leads the team with 18
blocked shots, despite playing just 9.6 minutes per game.

Overall, this is a talented and good Miami basketball team. They have very
good size on the inside, players who can hit the midrange jumper, and obviously
a number of talented three-point shooters. However, they do struggle from the
free throw line, connecting on just 62.7% of their shots from the charity stripe
this year.

One reason for such a bad mark at the line is that Dwayne Collins goes to the
line a lot. Collins has taken 93 free throws this year, but only hit 50 of them.
That’s a 53.8% mark. If he gets the ball in good position down low, the Hokies
should not be afraid to foul him. One thing Tech can’t do is get Jeff Allen in
foul trouble, so the defensive assignment will likely go to Victor Davila.

This will be a tough game for the Hokies, but they need to win it. They will
not be favored in Saturday’s road trip at #25 Florida State, a team they don’t
match up particularly well with. If Tech loses to Miami, they’ll be staring an
0-3 start right in the face. Seth Greenberg’s teams generally play well with
their backs against the wall, so expect to see a strong effort on Wednesday

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