This past Monday myself and local aquatic legend and basketball guru John Pavone were honored to be guests of Head Coach Jim Larranaga and Associate Head Coach Chris Caputo at a UM Basketball practice. We were the only people in the building not directly connected to the basketball program yet received royal treatment. After our being introduced by Coach L each of the players came over to shake hands and introduce themselves. Truly a first class program with nothing but highest quality young men. Then came the best part of the afternoon.
All we have been hearing about UM basketball since last year’s injury riddled season is what the program lost in graduations and transfers. What we saw Monday is what we gained!
Chicago native and De Paul transfer Charlie Moore , First Team All Big East last season will start at the point. George Mason’s last season leading scorer and rebounder Jordan Miller will be in the rotation at both forward positions. We have three Four Star incoming Freshman who will all play on a regular basis. Massachusetts native and Connecticut prep star Bensley Joseph is an absolute blur on the court and will back up at point guard. Philly native Wooga Poplar will play at the wing and small forward spots as will New York born and Maryland Prep star Jakai Robertson. Coach Larranaga came up to me during practice and said “ Bo, both transfers and all three freshman can really shoot the three”.
Miami’s best assets might well be returning wings Isaiah Wong who is a favorite for first team ACC this year, veteran Kam McGusty and Harlond Beverly. All three have played point and shooting guard as well as small forward at a high level. Their talent , experience and leadership will go a long way towards earning a tournament spot on selection Sunday and a possible deep run in March Madness.
That leaves ‘the bigs’. New Zealand native Sam Waardenburg returning after sitting out last year while injured might be the most important piece in the team attaining their goals. Sam will be joined by ever improving power forward Anthony Walker , veteran Australian Dang Gak, Freshman walk on from Amsterdam via California Thomas Oosterbroek and back for his sixth year Rodney Miller Jr who though now not practicing in full with injuries is in the best shape of his life and ready to contribute.
I would advise ignoring the cynics , sceptics and zetetic observations being made in sports and social media about this years UM Basketball team’s chances of a successful season. This team will entertain, surprise and succeed. You heard it here. Go Canes!