Harris Has His Starting Position Back

When the freshman point guard Denis Clemente signed with the University of Miami, there were many people that thought he would take the starting point guard spot from Anthony Harris.

Unfortunately, they didn't recognize or understand that starting as a freshman is tough, but starting as a point guard as a freshman is something that rarely happens in college basketball let alone the ACC.

When Harris was forced to miss the first seven games of the season with a broken foot, Clemente was given the opportunity to start at point guard and lead the team. While Clemente did a good job, the ‘Canes clearly missed Harris.

And it was obvious, the ‘Canes were missing their floor general when they could not take care of business down the stretch late in games.

That changed Saturday afternoon as the ‘Canes pulled off a huge win over No. 12 Maryland 84-70 in front of over 5,000 at the BankUnited Center.

Harris was the key to the win, and it was obvious that he is the difference between Miami being an average team that can compete with anyone to being a team that is very good and will win a lot of those tough close games it lost earlier this season.

In the two most key points in the game against the Terps, Harris hit big shots that first got the ‘Canes going and then propelled them to a huge run that gave them the win.

The ‘Canes were clearly ready to play from the time they walked out of the tunnel and Harris led the way drilling two three-pointers in the first two minutes and change of the game to help the ‘Canes jump out to a 13-0 lead to start the game.

But foul trouble sent him to the bench and when Clemente entered the game, the Terps pressure defense turned up a notch and clearly rattled the young freshman.

"I wanted to put Anthony back in there, but with the foul trouble, I didn't want to get him into more foul trouble," UM coach Frank Haith said. "He was in a rhythm, but I couldn't risk it."

When Maryland made it's biggest run of the game and cut the lead to one point at 44-43, Harris responded once again.

He drilled a three from the corner on a dish from Guillermo Diaz and on the ‘Canes ensuing possession, Harris pushed the ball up and the court, and clearly feeling it, pulled up for a three-pointer swishing it home and causing Maryland coach Gary Williams to signal for an immediate time out.

Harris finished the game with 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting and hit all four of three-point attempts.

"I told my coaches I could feel my legs getting back the way I shot the ball," Harris said. Our preparation was great for this game. We were really ready to go. You could tell by the way we played. In late game situations and early game situations that really showed today."

But more than anything what showed was the return of Harris, who himself, was a wet-behind-the-ears sophomore who was thrust into the starting line up because of the transfer of former starter Armondo Surratt.

He also went through the growing pains of having to take on the role of being the floor general and after going through the ups and downs that any young point guard experiences, it was a devastating blow to the Hurricanes when he missed the first seven games. Realistically, he's still not one hundred percent, but he's getting back to where he was last season. And he's a better player as well, if for one reason, he's now experienced.

But Harris wouldn't take the credit.

"When I called the guys to the huddle late in the game, I told the guys to get the ball in Rob and Guillermo's hands and let them make plays," Harris said. "It was a team effort. When I was open, I made shots, when I wasn't, I got it to guys that were. This was a great confidence booster. It's the highest ranked team we've beaten since coach (Haith) has been here."

However, realistically, the difference is Anthony Harris and his teammates, coaches and fans all know it.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat is the Basketball Beat Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at rudy@canestime.com

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