UM Basketball Needs a Change

It's time for a change. If University of Miami coach Frank Haith wants to win this year, he has to do it and it has to happen as soon as Saturday's game against Stetson.

Following a disastrous Monday night game against Mississippi State when the ‘Canes got whipped 70-52 at the BankUnited Center, the worst in the history of the team since it moved to the building from the Miami Arena, Haith made it clear that change is imminent.

"We got one point between three starters," Haith said. "There will be changes."

But what changes need to be made?

Already two players down with senior Anthony King sidelined with a sprained ligament in his right wrist and Adrian Thomas already being ruled out for the year, two positions need to be looked at closely.

TWO NEW STARTERS

Into the starting line up should be sophomore Denis Clemente at point guard and freshman Dwayne Collins at center/power forward.

To the bench should be Anthony Harris and Jimmy Graham. Maybe Harris and Graham will find their games coming off the bench because they production thus far has been beyond poor.

For the ‘Canes to be successful, this change needs to happen now or this season could spiral into a nightmare because, the reality is this, Jack McClinton can't do it alone. He's gotten sporadic help from Brian Asbury, but even so, it can't be McClinton and Asbury showing up with no one else.

Following another miserable performance by Harris where he scored all of zero points and was 0 for 3 from the field, it's evident that Harris is simply not the same player he was when he was a sophomore and looked incredibly promising.

An injury screwed up his junior year, but to be playing the way he's played this season is flat out unacceptable when you are one of two seniors and are supposed to be the team's leader. Captains don't play like this, especially when the other Captain is on the sideline with an injury.

Minus the Georgia Tech game when he scored 21 points and helped Miami to its biggest win of the year, a 90-82 triumph over Georgia Tech a couple of weeks ago, Harris' numbers have been flat out bad.

His scoreless night against Mississippi State was the nail in the coffin.

Through ten games, Harris has averaged 7.6 points and 4.5 assists per game, but if you remove the Georgia Tech game from the equation, Harris is averaging only 5.5 points per game. His shooting percentage has been just as atrocious as his 35% from the field and 20% from three-point range simply isn't cutting the mustard.

But Harris isn't alone. Graham has matched Harris' poor play and even played worse at times.

Graham scored all of zero points against Mississippi State as well. His rebounding numbers are lousy for a guy who is supposed to be one of the top rebounders on the team. His defensive positioning most of the time simply isn't good and he flat out doesn't seem to be there mentally when the ball is tipped.

"Jimmy Graham is a player who thinks a lot," Haith said. "He holds stuff in. He needs to just let it all go and play."

But until he finally lets go of whatever has been eating away at him inside, the best spot for Graham is the bench. Haith gave inclination in his rotations following a turnover in the game's first minute Monday by Graham when he took him right out of the game, replaced him with Collins, and didn't put him back in the game until about eight or nine minutes had elapsed.

Graham is averaging 6.6 points per game on 52% shooting, but his shooting percentage is not indicative of the lack of confidence he's played with this year. At 6-foot-8, 245 pounds his 3.7 rebounds per game is not enough.

In comparison, Collins is also averaging 6.6 points per game, has nine blocked shots, including five against Mississippi State and 5.4 rebounds per game playing the same amount of minutes. Collins is also shooting at 61% clip from the field, but the biggest thing that Collins brings is an incredible energy to the floor. His alley-oop dunks this year have been a thing of beauty. According to UM statisticians, Collins had five dunks against Mississippi State en route to his 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 block effort.

"Dwayne played great," Haith said Monday night. "He played 29 minutest. We gotta play him and I am going to play him."

With the added time on the floor, Collins numbers should explode. That also means someone else, namely Graham, will get less playing time as even Fabio Nass saw extended action Monday night ahead of Graham.

Clemente has also shined of late, including an 8-point and 9-assist to zero turnover showing against Lehigh. He also seems to be the player that gets Collins going because Collins is able to run the floor with Clemente and be the beneficiary of the fast pace when Clemente is on the floor.

"Denis also played very well," Haith said. "He plays real hard. We just have to keep working with Denis."

But the reality remains, change is necessary, it is imminent, and by Saturday afternoon, don't be surprised to see it actually happen.

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

Canes Time Top Stories