A half-dozen thoughts on UM basketball to close out the 2011-12 season:
….The Hurricanes’ basketball and football teams ended the season in the same fashion, turning in their worst performance in the final game of the season. UM’s 68-50 loss to Minnesota on Monday night was its most-lopsided defeat of the year. The 18-point margin may not have even been a good reflection of how completely the Gophers dominated Miami. UM’s football team ended the 2011 season with a 24-17 loss at home to Boston College, arguably the ACC’s worst team last year.
….Jim Larranaga is not the kind of coach that will throw his players under the bus, but he seemed on the verge of it after Monday night’s debacle. Larranaga seemed particularly upset with his two big men, Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji, who were basically no-shows against Minnesota. Kadji, UM’s lone All-ACC selection, played only 11 minutes. Johnson looked like his feet were stuck in cement on the defensive end and he grabbed only two rebounds in 20 minutes. Larranaga said he could tell during Monday’s shoot-around that neither was preparing himself adequately to play last night’s game. Without mentioning Kadji and Johnson by name but in a response to a question about the two big men, Larranaga said that some players “think if they play a lot of minutes, everything will work out in their favor, where a coach looks at playing well. Earn your playing time by your performance on the court, by how well you defend, how well you rebound, how well you guard your man…if you execute what you’re supposed to be doing, then you earn playing time.”
….Larranaga said he will talk to all of his players about their futures. Johnson, Kadji and Durand Scott all figure to consider the NBA although it doesn’t take Al Attles to know that all three would be better off returning for another season. Johnson is listed as the draft’s 98th-best prospect by NBADraftExpress.com, which makes him nothing better than a free agent. Kadji and Scott aren’t listed by anyone as draftable in June.
….With his absence, Scott proved that he was the team’s Most Valuable Player. Without Scott, the Hurricanes lacked toughness and an on-court leader.
….Besides the injuries, suspensions and tough losses, the season’s biggest disappointment had to be the play of senior Malcolm Grant. An All-ACC third-team selection a year ago, Grant struggled from start to finish. Compare these stats between 2010-11 and 2011-12: scoring average (14.8 points to 10.8); field goal percentage (41.8 percent to 33.9), three-point FG percentage (42.3 percent to 33.0). Grant had a nightmarish finish to his career on Monday, shooting 1-for-7 from the field, including missing each of his four three-point attempts, in only 17 minutes of action. It tied Grant’s season-low for minutes played.
….While the performance of several UM players seemed to regress late in the season, sophomore guard Rion Brown was a reason for optimism. After a tough start to his season, Brown finished by scoring in double digits in five of his last six games. During that stretch, Brown averaged a team-best 13.2 points per game. Brown is easily the Hurricanes’ best shooter.
….One bonus note (sort of): The Hurricanes’ average attendance of 3,936 was the third smallest in the nine full seasons the team has played in the BankUnited Center. That average surpasses only 2003-04 (2,545) and 2006-07 (3,465). So much for the Larranaga bump.
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