Thoughts on the Basketball Team

The season is only five games old, but the University of Miami men's basketball team has crippled itself as quickly as one could think following two embarrassing losses against Buffalo and Cleveland State in the America's Youth Classic in Evansville, Indiana, Saturday and Sunday.

The reality is that for everything that may have been said prior to the start of this season, while the Hurricanes basketball team has plenty of talent and is deeper than it's been in years, it still must come to play every game like it's the last one it will play.

If they don't, the end result is a pitiful 60-57 loss to a bad Buffalo team and then follow it up with a 78-67 loss to Cleveland State the next day. Now, one might give a pass for one game as it was a three-game road trip in three days and with the parity that now exists in college basketball anyone can lose on any given night, especially on the road, but to lose to the team two teams that got beat by Evansville by a combined 44 points makes it utterly embarrassing.

Even so, Cleveland State and Buffalo were also on the road. The only team that was playing on its home court was Evansville. Worst of all, Miami beat Evansville on its home court Friday night 74-69 and then proceeded to lay the proverbial egg the next two days.

Why did this happen can be summed up in a number of reasons, but the main one is this? They aren't good enough to take anyone for granted. Whether Miami plays Alcorn State or Florida, the Hurricanes have to come out with the same intensity and fire every single time they step on the floor. There can't be any drop off.

After beating the Purple Aces of Evansville, the ‘Canes essentially went from being confident to overconfident in less than 24 hours, but the sad part is, they took the same attitude into the Cleveland State following the embarrassment to Buffalo.

There is a saying that excuses are the tools of the incompetent and used to building monuments of nothingness and those who specialize in using them are seldom good at anything else, but excuses so no excuses or reasons will be even heard and certainly not accepted because it's impossible to quantify into words how pathetic Miami played Saturday and Sunday.

To put it into perspective how pitiful Miami had to have played, Buffalo was beaten by South Florida by 16 points earlier this season.

In our preseason preview the question was who would be the man to step his game up and be the main guy this year. There were numerous candidates, but the main one that was expected to have to be the leader of this team was senior center Anthony King.

But for whatever reasons, whether it was double teams or not getting the ball or whatever excuse wants to be used, King simply didn't perform in Indiana.

He did grab 33 rebounds in the three games with 15 rebounds against Evansville, six rebounds against Buffalo and 12 versus Cleveland State, but the rebounding wasn't his problem last season. King has always been a good rebounder and good at blocking shots. What King didn't do was be a dominating force in the paint and force the action down low on the box. He was very passive and didn't demand the ball. He didn't force the action.

Well apparently, nothing has changed if this past weekend is any indication of what can be expected this season.

King took six shots against Evansville and finished with six points, took a ridiculous three shots and finished with seven points against Buffalo and took eight shots against Cleveland State finishing with a paltry six points again.

That simply won't cut it if King is to be what his team needs him to be and that is a dominating force. Dominating forces don't defer to guards. Dominating forces make things happen. Dominating forces find a way to get the job done.

It surely doesn't help that when King passes the ball out of a double team, there isn't a soul on the perimeter that hit a shot this past weekend besides sophomore guard Jack McClinton who leads the team in scoring averaging 18.6 points per game.

While McClinton was 10 for 18 from three-point range, the rest of the team was a pathetic 3 for 26. Brian Asbury, where are you? Anthony Harris, where are you? Denis Clemente, where are you? 3 for 26 is a disgrace. Middle school kids hit more shots from 19 feet out in 26 chances than Miami's scholarship basketball players did last weekend.

But the reality is, King has to dominate. McClinton can and probably will be the leading scorer because he is flat out the team's best player and that's not even up for debate, but if King only averages eight points a game, Miami is in not trouble, but big trouble. It will have trouble beating anyone because King can't let double teams take him out of the game completely on the offensive side of the ball.

It is these type of performances that will make getting to the NCAA Tournament almost a miracle because even if Miami finds a way to win 20 games this season, when it becomes decision making time when the NCAA selection committee sits in that cramped room to make the determination on whether or not Miami is worthy of a tournament bid, the first thing that will hit them smack on the face are two losses to Cleveland State and Buffalo and those types of losses are beyond crippling. They are virtually impossible to recover from.

Let's see if this Miami team can find a way to save its season after putting it in critical condition in just five regular season games.

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at

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