With King Out, Hicks to Step Up

With Anthony King out for at least the next month with a sprained ligament in his right wrist, the University of Miami needs some of its other big men to step up, but with one of those big guys being a young freshman in Dwayne Collins, that leaves it up to Raymond Hicks and Jimmy Graham.

More so, it is up to Hicks because he is the player that has taken King's spot in the starting line up while King is sidelined. "You talk about a guy (King) who has started 53 straight games," UM coach Frank Haith said. "Ray Hicks, you talk about him being more aggressive offensively. I think he has the best chance to do that for us."

Raymond Hicks showed last Sunday against Georgia Tech that he is ready for the challenge as he scored 11 points off the bench and continued to prove himself Saturday afternoon against Lehigh as he scored 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds along with three steals.

Coach Frank Haith acknowledged that Hicks stepped up Saturday, but that he needs to do so every night for the ‘Canes to be a good team.

"I thought Ray Hicks production for us was very good," Haith said. "We wanted him to be more aggressive. He did that tonight for us."

As much as his scoring being very important to the team, so is the energy that he brings to the unit. It couldn't have been more evident in Saturday's game than his alley-oop jam on a pass from Denis Clemente that got him all riled up.

Hicks has a simple motto as he is used to being a smaller guy playing a bigger position.

"Just play hard. Outwork your opponent. I am used to being undersized in this league (ACC)," Hicks said. "You have to try to outwork your opponent the best you can. Coach Haith always tells us to find a way to win and we did it today."

As much as he works though, he is also feeling a comfort level to take the shot when he is open, especially from the outside as he has improved his mid-range jumper a great deal and has also stepped out and hit some threes this season.

"I felt real comfortable because being that King is on the sideline, he's been a great mentor. He lets me know things to help myself. The staff picks me up and makes me feel comfortable to just play my game within the team, the offense," Hicks said.

But earlier this year, it was unknown if and when Hicks would play as he was suspended for the first three games of the season for breaking a team rule. It's taught him to appreciate every moment he has on the court.

"It showed me not to take anything for granted. Any opportunity, to seize the moment," Hicks said.

Now he's concentrating on the upcoming games, with a number of tough games scheduled for the month of December against the likes of Mississippi State, UMass and Louisville.

"I think the opportunity is huge. It's a big time opportunity. We got a lot of opportunities to show Miami basketball."

Rudy Rodriguez-Chomat can be reached at rudy@canestime.com

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