ACC Basketball Introductions: How Syracuse Matches Up With Miami

Stephen Dunn

We've reached the halfway point in our primer series giving Orange basketball fans a heads up on what to expect from the new conference opponents.

We're halfway done, y'all. In case you missed any of the earlier previews, check out Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Maryland.

Have you ever wondered whether the Miami Hurricanes could be one of our new rivals? We don't have a terribly heated history on the court with them, but that's nbd. True rivalries go beyond that anyway.

Case in point: real rivals might go so far as to take jabs at each other's coaches for one reason (cough, stupid white towels) or another (cough, stupid white suit). So, is there anything jab-worthy about Miami's Jim Larranaga? Short answer: no.

Remember when he led George Mason to the 2006 NCAA Final Four after stunning UConn in overtime? Apparently, he motivated his team that night by telling them that the almighty Huskies had no clue what conference GMU even played in. Now, that got them fired up, but Larranaga didn't stop. He kept reminding his players exactly what their conference was, only "CAA" no longer stood for "Colonial Athletic Association"; it stood for "Connecticut Assassins Association."

Okay, seriously, we can figure out why we hate each other later. This is phenomenal. Well done.

2012-2013 Record: 29-7 (15-3)

Conference Ranking: 1st

Historical Notes: Miami was another program we used to see on the reg, having been in the Big East with us from 1991-2004. The Orange holds the all-time series advantage on this one, 14-5.

What They're Known For: Not making too much of a splash. At all. The 'Canes never had a winning record in ACC games, until the coaching change. Looks like the regime is here to stay, too. Larranaga's contract was just extended through the 2022 season.

Season Summary: Miami racked up its first regular season and conference tournament championships. At one point, they bested the nation's top-ranked team by one of the largest margins of defeat for a No. 1 squad. Ever. In the NCAA tournament, Miami landed a 2-seed and advanced to the Sweet 16 where they fell to Marquette. Ultimately, Larranaga was named the national and ACC Coach of the Year, so I'd say the 'Canes did good work.

Key Players:

Rion Brown (6.4 PPG/2.0 RPG). Brown is the only returning guy who played more than 10 minutes per game for Miami last season. This year, they're relying on the 6-6 senior guard to be a more consistent shooter, and take it upon himself to create some much-needed offense.

Tonye Jekiri (1.4 PPG/1.6 RPG). Behind a whole mess of seniors, he saw very limited action last year as a freshman. The 6-11 center is a skilled rebounder and defender, but he's basically untested. He's "key" because he's an "if" guy. Miami needs him to be a serious post presence, and part of their success will depend on "if" he can do it.

Angel Rodriguez (11.4 PPG/5.2 APG). This 5-11 junior transferred from K-State, and is seeking a waiver to play immediately. If it's granted, Rodriguez is expected to replace Shane Larkin at the point without much of a drop-off. He was a stand-out in the Big-12, and will add experience and stability to the 'Canes. As for how he'll mesh with his new team, see below. The entire team is new. Everyone will be trying to mesh.

Personnel Changes: Gutted. Holy cow, you guys, the ‘Canes were gutted. Starting point guard Shane Larkin (14.5 PPG/3.8 RPG/4.6 APG) left early for the NBA, and five more players, including the rest of the starters and the 6th man, graduated: forward/center Julian Gamble (6.5 PPG/4.9 RPG/1.8 BPG); center Reggie Johnson (6.7 PPG/7.0 RPG/1 BPG); guard Trey McKinney-Jones (9.2 PPG/3.4 RPG/1.6 APG); center Kenny Kadji (12.9 PPG/6.8 RPG/1.3 BPG); and guard Durand Scott (13.1 PPG/4.0 RPG/2.6 APG).

Miami adds JUCO transfer James Kelly (6-8, forward), as well as the aforementioned Angel Rodriguez. Garrius Adams (6-6, guard) and Donnavan Kirk (6-9, forward) re-join the roster after a medical redshirt and a couple years with DePaul, respectively. Freshmen include Deandre Burnett (6-1, guard), Davon Reed (6-6, guard), Michael Fernandez (6-2, guard), and Emmanuel "Manu" Lecomte (5-9, guard). There's also Derrick Griffin (6-7, forward) and Cornelius Elder (5-11, guard), both of whom were recruited for football, too.

2013-2014 Potential: The 2013-14 Hurricanes = the 2012-13 Seminoles. Fact. You can't have the best season in school history, lose just about everyone from the team, and repeat that success. Larranaga's fantastic, but there's only so much that solid coaching can do when you lose your top six players. This Miami group needs to find its identity. To be honest, I don't have any idea what it's going to look like. And you know what? The 'Canes don't either.

Yes, they're rebuilding, and yes, they'll drop in the rankings, but they won't go from first to last. Miami's got some really talented guys and a coach who can develop them. All is not lost.

Orange Match-Up: Oh, Hurricanes... We've seen very few of you play college basketball at all, let alone on the same team as one another. So, riddle me this: how can I analyze you if you won't give me anything to work with? You've got a confirmed good shooter, who's not definitely on the roster (Rodriguez), and a guy definitely on the roster, who's not a confirmed good shooter (Brown). And that's just the beginning of it.

Bottom line, there are too many unknowns to devise a plan of attack just yet that's more specific than "Syracuse needs to make shots and defend well." I'm not going to start dissecting all of the possible options, either. Why? There are a ton, and this isn't a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. Clear up some of these variables Miami, and then we'll explain how we're going to take you on. Any idea when this will happen? Because with all due respect, you're killing me, Smalls.

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