Hurricanes blowout UNC and improve to 10-0 in ACC
With Lebron James and Dwyane Wade in attendance, the Hurricanes, led by sophomore point guard Shane Larkin (son of baseball hall-of-famer Barry Larkin), did whatever they wanted to UNC. They shot an astounding 15-26 (57.7%) from downtown. Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji are a force to be reckoned with; not much this team does wrong. Larkin is one of the best point guards in America, Scott does just about everything on the floor, and Kadji provides an interior presence on both sides of the floor. This team is loaded with upperclassmen, mostly juniors and seniors. Kadji is actually 24 years old.
I had written about the Hurricanes when they were just 4-0 in the conference. I never thought they would be this dominant. They embarrassed Duke on their home floor and recently won a close road game at NC State. They can no longer be taken lightly and should now be considered a legit threat for a title run come the NCAA tournament. Head Coach Jim Larranaga has already exceeded expectations with this team.
I’m sure the naysayers will point to the fact that the ACC is a mediocre at best conference. Despite Duke and Miami having team RPI’s of 1 and 2, the ACC only has 4 schools with an RPI in the top 60 (UNC and NC State). Maryland would have to do work to make the tournament with an RPI of 64. It will be difficult for this conference to get more than 4 schools in the NCAA tournament.
The question going forward will be, how will Miami now handle the pressure of being considered one of the top teams in the country by the polls? With so many top 10 teams going down this week, Miami is likely to be ranked 3rd or 4th in the country in next week’s polls. Larranaga is used to be the underdog, having taken George Mason to the NCAA final Four in 2006. Now he will be in unfamiliar territory come this year’s NCAA tournament as an odds on favorite. If the season ended today Miami could be a 1 or 2 seed.
What’s even more impressive and speaks volumes of the coaching job Larranaga has done, is the fact that he has Miami where they are without one McDonald's All-American. Conversely, North Carolina is loaded with 5 McDonald’s All-Americans and are still no match for Miami. It’s all about maximizing the talents of the players you coach, not recruiting the best players and expecting results because of the program’s history. That’s why it’s easy to root for programs like Gonzaga, Butler, Creighton, VCU.
Do you now respect Miami and believe they are a legit National Title threat?