Streaking the Lawn got together with Jerry Steinberg, a fellow SBNation writer covering the Miami Hurricanes for State of the U. We wanted to see what he had to say about his team heading into the start of basketball season. Let's take a look!
Streaking the Lawn: What are your thoughts on Jim Larranaga after his first year in Coral Gables?
State of the U: Last year, Coach Larranaga did a fantastic job working around injuries (Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble, Garrius Adams, Bishop Daniels), suspensions (Johnson and Durand Scott), deaths in the family (Malcolm Grant), and all while implementing a new system, and still had Miami within 1 game of an NCAA Tournament. I'd say I was rather impressed. This year the team appears to have supreme confidence. Coach L is a big reason why.
STL: What was your biggest loss from last season's team?
SOTU: Malcolm Grant struggled through a very trying personal year, and it showed on the court. When his older brother passed, his game took a big hit, understandably. Despite his off year, Grant's leadership and shot making ability will be missed.
Trivia Question! Who is the women's basketball locker room named after? Question Code: LOCKER. Submit your answers here!
STL: Who is the freshman that you think will make the biggest impact this year?
SOTU: Miami only has one true freshman, Tonye Jekiri. Jekiri is a 7 foot athelete, who runs the floor well, and should contribute immediately behind Johnson, Kenny Kadji, and Julian Gamble. Redshirt freshman guard Bishop Daniels could also see a lot of playing time this year as a combo guard.
STL: The Hurricanes were picked to finish fourth in the league this year. Fair? Not Fair?
SOTU: Absolutely. The 'Canes have 4 players in Reggie Johnson, Kenny Kadji, Durand Scott, and Shane Larkin who should vie for All Conference honors. Add to mix the depth they have in proven swingmen Trey McKinney Jones, Rion Brown, and Garrius Adams, depth in the front court (Gamble, Jekiri), and talented atheletes (Daniels, Erik Swoope) and you have a very versatile and dangerous squad. Plus they are in year 2 under Larranaga and should have a better feel for his system.
STL: Who does Virginia need to watch out for most this year?
SOTU: Well I think Virginia fans are already familiar with Kenny Kadji, but he is 20 pounds lighter this year and really running the floor well. Coach L has compared him to a right-handed Chris Bosh. Of course a healthy Reggie Johnson is always a concern for any opponent. Shane Larkin and Rion Brown really came on last season, as the season progressed. I suspect UVA will have their usual lock down defense. Most likely the size and skill of Kadji would give them the most trouble.
STL: Which of Virginia's players gives you the most concern?
SOTU: We know Joe Harris wasn't himself at the end of the season and expect big things from him now that his hand has heeled. Jontel Evans can go an entire game with out scoring then suddenly make a clutch one. The big freshman Mike Tobey and the sharp shooting new comer Evan Nolte are also a concern, as we have yet to see them in action. More then anything the team defense of the Hoos concerns me, anytime Miami plays them.