Heading into this weekend's game, Miami is 11-3 with road wins over Kentucky and St. John's . The Hurricanes have played one conference game to date when they lost to #25 Clemson 91-72. Despite the three losses, Coach Frank Haith is pleased with how his team has done so far this season.
"We're getting better," Haith said. "Playing three games in five days last week was good for us. Are we as sharp as we need to be? No. But we made some strides. We're going to be better as the year progresses on. Going into league play we're in as good a shape as we can be. Lance Hurdle was out the early part of the year; you can see him getting himself back together, and he's a key guy for us."
Boston College is 13-3 with wins over St. Johns , Providence , and at then #1 North Carolina . The Eagles pulled off one of the biggest upsets of this college season in their first ACC game. BC took down the mighty Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in an impressive 85-78 victory. Not all has been good for Coach Al Skinner's squad with losses to Saint Louis and most recently Harvard looming over their heads.
What have you done for me lately?
The Canes have won four straight since their disappointing loss to the Clemson Tigers. A win over a St. John's team that looked overmatched for most of the game looks much better after the Red Storm took down #7 Notre Dame a week later.
The Eagles had won 10 straight including a huge win over UNC at the Dean Dome before falling at home to Harvard. In November, BC lost back to back games to Saint Louis and Purdue before going on their big winning streak that lasted over a month.
G - Lance Hurdle - #1 – 6'2" 183 lbs – Senior
Hurdle is averaging 7.3 points and 2.5 assists per game in the 2008-09 season. Miami 's point guard has struggled to get into a rhythm after opening the season with an ankle injury. The Canes will need a solid game out of Hurdle, especially defensively as he will be matched up with one of the nation's best guards in Tyrese Rice.
G – Jack McClinton - #33 – 6'1" 185 lbs – Senior
There is no need to say it but as the Canes will go as far as Jack takes them. The Baltimore native is averaging 17.3 points and 3.1 assists in 28.6 minutes a game this year. Look for McClinton to play significantly more minutes this game as Miami will need the ACC's premier 3-point shooter to put on a show if they are to win in Chestnut Hill.
G/F – Brian Asbury - #32 – 6'7" 221 lbs – Senior
Asbury stepped into the starting line-up after some early season struggles from James Dews. The senior is a long, athletic wing that will be a good match-up on Rakim Sanders. The senior will be counted on to keep Sanders in check all night long. This match-up could prove pivotal in the outcome of the game.
F – Cyrus McGowan - #20 – 6'9" 236 lbs – Junior
Boston College 's front court is not as big as in years past and McGowan needs to take advantage of this on Saturday night. Joe Trapani is a slim big man at 218 pounds and Cyrus should force the Eagles to defend him on the block. His range has been a plus in some games but I'd like to see less three point attempts from the big man as it leaves Miami short-handed rebounding.
F – Dwayne Collins - #21 – 6'8" 238 lbs – Junior
Clearly the Canes best inside scorer, Dwayne is averaging 12 points and nearly 8 rebounds a game this season. The Hack-A-Dwayne strategy has been used throughout the season when defending Collins as his free throw shooting has been lackluster. An adjustment in his routine has been made and it led to a 12-16 performance from the free throw line. Hopefully he can carry over his recent success at the charity stripe this weekend as the Eagles will likely make him prove that he can do it again.
G – Tyrese Rice - #4 – 6'1" 190 lbs – Senior
This is Boston College 's version of Jack McClinton. Rice can put the Eagles on his back and carry them to victory. Throughout his career, the senior has been a thorn in Miami 's side and he will likely be spectacular again on Saturday night. Averaging 17.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists, the explosive guard rarely steps off the floor so the Canes will have to worry about stopping this offensive dynamo all night.
G/F – Rakim Sanders - #15 – 6'5" 225 lbs – Sophomore
A supremely athletic wing, Sanders is a tough match-up night in and night out. Miami will likely use the length of Brian Asbury and perimeter defense of James Dews to try and keep him in check. Sanders averages nearly 12 points and 4 rebounds a game but went off against the very athletic UNC Tar Heels for 22 points, six boards and seven steals. The Canes will need to know where he is at all times.
F – Corey Raji - #11 – 6'6" 214 lbs – Sophomore
Another very athletic wing that can get out on the break for the Eagles, Raji is averaging 12.3 points and seven rebounds per game this season. He has had success against the Canes before tallying 16 points and six rebounds when BC came to Coral Gables last season.
F – Joe Trapani - #12 – 6'8" 218 lbs – Sophomore
The transfer from Vermont will likely duke it out with Cyrus McGowan in the " Battle of the Transfer Forwards" this Saturday. After sitting out last season, Trapani is back to lighting it up from outside as he is shooting 36.2% from beyond the arc. Miami cannot lose sight of Trapani or they can expect him to hit some big threes.
C – Josh Southern - #52 – 6'10" 242 lbs – Sophomore
The big man is not much of a scorer averaging 6.1 points in 22.1 minutes a night but he certainly can rebound. At 6'10" Southern is a big body that is pulling down six boards a night and will be battling Dwayne Collins for position on the block all night. This could be an interesting match-up as Collins has had trouble when defended by a bigger defender.
Without question, the two players to watch on Saturday night are Miami 's Jack McClinton and Boston College 's Tyrese Rice. Both players can light it up from anywhere on the floor and are fierce competitors. The two became close friends over the summer as they attended various camps where they put their skills on display for all to see.
"He's one of my closest friends outside of my teammates in the league," McClinton said.
"We talk on a daily basis about basketball and everything that's going on."
"He's a good guy. He's one of the top point guards in the country. He's very shifty, has great pace. He is a great player. One person may not be able to stop him. It'll be a team defense."
The talented guards will both put their teams on their backs and try to carry them to victory. It will be fun to see who will finish on top when the final buzzer sounds.
Keys to the Game
- Slow Down Tyrese Rice
o Normally one would want to stop the other team's star but in this case the Canes can only hope to contain him. If Miami can force him to take bad shots and get the ball out of his hands, they might have a shot of winning in Chestnut Hill
- Limit Second Chances
o Boston College 's size certainly gives them an advantage rebounding so Miami needs to get box out and get good position to attack the glass.
- Get Back on D
o Boston College has traditionally liked to pound it inside to their big men but with the athletic trio of Rice, Sanders and Raji, the Eagles can kill a team in transition. Miami cannot allow BC to get out on the break or it could get ugly early.
- Don't Let Jack Beat You
o While the Eagles length and athleticism could prove to be difficult for McClinton to handle, we all know the Jack has a flair for the dramatic. If the Eagles can force the ball out of his hands, they will be in good shape.
- Take Advantage of your Size
o While BC does not have a low post scorer, they need to take advantage of their size advantage at nearly every position. They can dominate the boards and cause match-up problems for Miami all night.
- Contain Dwayne
o Miami 's Dwayne Collins will be the best scoring big on the floor all night. If the Eagles can limit his productivity, they will erase Miami 's inside presence and likely force lower percentage shots.
Eagles Success Against Miami
Boston College and Miami have been facing off since their days in the Big East. The Eagles have dominated the series with a record of 22-9 all-time against the Hurricanes.
The Canes are not especially fond of Chestnut Hill , Massachusetts having lost 10 of 14 at BC. Miami did have the upper hand in the last meeting between the two ACC foes winning 74-61 in Coral Gables last March. The win snapped a 13-game losing streak to the Eagles.
Coach Haith's thoughts
On Tyrese Rice
"He's hurt us. He's always hurt us. Last year he had 18 in the first half here. He's a chore. He's so good with the ball. He's got great pace with his game, so he gets you off balance. Their system, they operate in tight quarters. He just doesn't need a lot of space and he can get his shot off. The biggest thing with Tyrese - you have to get him to play some defense because offensively he's going to be a chore for anybody. He's a tough matchup."
On Rakim Sanders and Corey Raji
"love Rakim. I think Sanders is terrific. He's a big guard that can do it inside and out, is perfect for their system. Their two perimeter guys are really good. Corey gets offensive rebounds, transition buckets. I like both those guys. They're tough."
On Jimmy Graham's status
"It's one of those things. I don't know. Last game we wanted to play him some just to get rust off of him and he was really sore after the game. It's a wait and see type thing. I don't know when he we will be back to full strength. It's a bruise. It's one of those irritating things that if you don't let it heal, keep hitting it, it's going to come back. It needs time."