Men’s Basketball Season Update - The outlook for University of Miami’s (UM) Men’s Basketball could not have been brighter during preseason workouts with four starters returning; senior center Rodney Miller, senior forward Sam Waardenburg and senior guards Chris Lykes and Kam McGusty. Transfer senior center Nysier Brooks from Cincinnati and Stony Brook’s Elijah
Olaniyi, who was first team All-American East last season will be valuable additions. Redshirt junior C/F Deng Gak returns from injury. Our “four star” returning sophomores, Zay Wong, Harlond Beverly and Anthony Walker are joined by highly recruited freshman Matt Cross and Earl Timberlake........ then the dimes started dropping.
On October 30, Sam Waardenburg suffered a season ending foot injury. Head Coach Jim Larranaga called Sam “our most experienced front court player.” Sam was last year’s leading rebounder and will be extremely difficult to replace ........ then, on December 4, Chris Lykes, our captain and our heart and soul, suffered an ankle injury and has been out the last eight games ........ then, on December 19, Rodney Miller injured his knee and is out for the year after MCL surgery.......then, Kam McGusty went out for the last five games with a hamstring problem. All this while our most highly touted recruit in years, Earl Timberlake, missed the first five games with a sprained ankle.
Canes were left without enough players to practice properly and could not play the style they hoped for in games, especially against high level ACC competition. We opened with dominant wins over North Florida and Stetson, then played Purdue in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge and came out on top 58-54 in a hard fought well-earned victory.
The wear and tear first showed in a 66-62 loss to Florida Gulf Coast who knocked down 13 three pointers. We then went down by 15 to an excellent Pittsburg team, rebounded with a solid win over Jacksonville, before suffering three of the most heart wrenching losses imaginable, by two at Virginia Tech, by one to Clemson and by two to North Carolina.
As a fan I could not be prouder of our group in those three contests when we were overwhelmingly shorthanded. Finally, on this past Saturday the sun shined on the Canes against NC State in Raleigh. Led by Zay Wong’s 24 points and nine rebounds, Earl Timberlake’s 13 points and five rebounds and the continuing impressive play of freshman Matt Cross who game after games shows basketball instinct and maturity well beyond his years. Freshmen Earl and Matt’s play along with sophomores Zay and Harlond’s toughness, leadership and scoring and Anthony Walker’s every day improvement give UM five underclassmen who could have UM competing for ACC championships very soon.
One thing is a given, this team will give 100% every moment they are on the floor. Congratulations to Head Coach Jim Larranaga as the NC State victory gave him 665 career wins, passing legend John Wooden on the career wins list.
Next up - Louisville Jan. 16 and at Syracuse Jan. 19. Go Canes !!!