Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Are Miami's Frontcourt Options?

Lost in the scandal around the Miami athletic department is that the Miami basketball team does have to get ready for a season, and as if they didn't have enough problems they're now dealing with major frontcourt injury woes. The big news this past week was that Julian Gamble tore his ACL and is likely done for the season. They're already going to be without Reggie Johnson until around the start of ACC play after his own knee surgery. And remember that Johnson is a player who has struggled with his weight (Miami lists him at 305 pounds, but they're being generous), and you have to wonder if several months off his feet are going to even worsen his physical condition.

With Gamble and Johnson out, the only other frontcourt returner that played regular minutes last season is DeQuan Jones, but he was of course very central to the Nevin Shapiro scandal. If Jones is suspended then who does that leave? Kenny Kadji, a transfer from Florida, should be decent (4.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a true freshman in 2008-09). Raphael Akpejiori and Erik Swoope were both 2010 recruits that will have to step up and play big minutes, simply because there are no other options.

Miami's backcourt is actually in pretty good shape for the time being, with Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant, Garrius Adams and Rion Brown all back. Grant was third team All-ACC last season, and could potentially be first team next season.

Because of that backcourt, I actually projected Miami to finish fifth in the ACC and to sneak into the NCAA Tournament with an 11 seed. But despite a quality backcourt they've got to have something in the frontcourt, and it's hard to see Miami finding any last minute 2011 recruits to fill in the roster with the shadow over the entire university. The ability of Reggie Johnson to come back healthy and in shape by the time the ACC season begins will be crucial for the Hurricanes to find a way to overcome adversity and to go Dancing.

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