2011-2012 ACC Preview: #9 Miami

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 9th-place finishers, the Miami Hurricanes.

It appears that hopeful is all the Miami hopeful can be this season (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 9-4

Key Wins:
December 3- Miami 83, UMass 75
December 17- Miami 93, FAU 90 (2OT)

Tough Losses:
November 25- Ole Miss 64, Miami 61 (OT)

Starting Lineup:[table id=18 /]Last Year Against Duke:
January 2, 2011 at Duke- Duke 74, Miami 63
February 13, 2011 in Miami- Duke 81, Miami 71

This Year Against Duke:
February 5, 2012 at Duke

The Good: Miami has made it through an average non-conference schedule without its best player, junior Reggie Johnson. Though a 7-4 record against mediocre competition is nothing to write home about, the teams hopes to use Johnson’s recent return to the lineup as a springboard to future success. Johnson, who adds a significant presence inside to a team that only has two players taller than 6-foot-6, has averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds in his only two games this season.

The Bad: This team is not prepared for an ACC schedule. It was forced to shuffle around its starting lineup game in and game out due to injuries and inconsistency, and did not face more than a couple significant tests in its non-conference schedule. The Hurricanes were at least able to dispatch of the bad teams it played, though taking Florida Atlantic to double overtime is a bit scary to say the least, but were not particularly competitive against their opponents from major conferences. Let’s keep in mind that Ole Miss, Purdue, Memphis, and West Virginia, who account for Miami’s four losses on the year, are hardly national title contenders. Don’t be surprised if this team is shellshocked when reacting to a more difficult ACC schedule, especially as it faces an upstart Virginia squad and North Carolina in its first two conference tilts, both on the road.

The Crazie: Even with the addition of Johnson back into the lineup, this is an undersized team. Undersized teams can win in the ACC, in fact from our own experience Duke has put together a string of winning ACC and even National Championships with no true low-post presence. But when you’re an undersized team in the ACC that only shoots 41.9% from the field and 38.7% from beyond the arc, your chances are pretty slim. For a team that struggles on the defensive end, it doesn’t have the offensive firepower to compensate.

Player We Love To Hate: Have you heard his name enough already? This Miami team is going to hinge on the inside presence of Reggie Johnson. He will be asked to shoulder a huge burden and play more minutes than most big men should, simply because the Hurricanes cannot rely on a small lineup with a 6-6 power forward. In Miami’s two losses to the Blue Devils last season, Johnson was a force inside, averaging 19 points and eight boards. He is one of those players that knows he needs to step up his game when he plays Duke and does so- keep in mind that he only averaged 11.9 points per game for the entirety of last year. Although he doesn’t have nearly the same quickness or skill set that Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger used to terrorize the Blue Devils earlier this season, his strength and bulking frame could pose a problem for Duke inside.

The Bottom Line: Johnson, along with Malcolm Grant, who earned 3rd-Team All-ACC last season, will establish themselves as two of the more talented players in the conference this year. Normally a team with two All-ACC caliber players shouldn’t have a problem finishing in the top half of the conference, but the rest of Miami’s rotation is so thin that this most likely will not happen. The Hurricanes have too many glaring weaknesses at this point to succeed this year.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina