They aren’t just a football powerhouse anymore, but can Miami’s recent success on the hardwood not only have sustainable success beyond this season – can it go the distance this year?
Miami's Shane Larkin is the best point guard in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Hurricanes have continued their unprecedented quest for an undefeated ACC campaign despite close calls at Florida State and Clemson and are currently 12-0 in the conference, leaving pundits at a loss for words. “The U” is now in line to be a consensus top seed in the NCAA Tournament as it continues beating all in their path. With 10 upperclassmen and the ACC's best point guard in sophomore Shane Larkin, excitement is at an all-time high. However, Miami's post-season's hopes may very well need a loss in order for the Hurricanes to go deep in the NCAA tournament.
The esteemed Dr. Dean Oliver and his “Four Factors of Basketball Success” are the foundation to an efficiency model created to go beyond the numbers into why teams are successful. Teams can be evaluated both at their ability and their ability to contain their opponents in these areas.
The four factors are:
1- Effective field goal percentage (this gives 50 percent more for a made three point value in calculated percentages of both two's and three's combined)
2- Turnovers - The ability to take care of the basketball. The ability to maximize two. possessions.
3- Offensive Rebounding-Opportunity for more shot attempts
4- Free Throw Attempts-The ability to get to the foul line
Of the last ten national champions, eight finished in the top 10 with the lowest ranking, the 2011 UConn Huskies at No. 16 in these four factors.
Miami is currently No. 31 in the nation at a 110.5 offensive efficiency rate. The top three teams in this category are all over 120 in the category, Indiana, Michigan and Florida. Defensively the 'Canes are No. 4 along the same lines as other past national champions.
In their two recent wins over Florida State and Clemson, in both games Miami lost the edge in free throw attempts and offensive rebound percentage.
It seems as if guards Shane Larkin and Durand Scott, perhaps are dominating the basketball which conceivably hurts some of the shot balance. Larkin and Scott were 3-for-16 against Clemson and against the Seminoles they outshot their teammates 25-22. Scott, a four-year Five-Star Camper who I have seen up close has a scorer's mentality but is more a volume scorer than a pure shooter. Guard play is important come tournament time, but an imbalance is equally dangerous.
It will be interesting to see if head coach Jim Larranaga can push this veteran team to get even better in these areas.
This Thursday’s matchup with LaSalle visiting Temple won’t be talked about much on the national level but it has huge implications for the tournament.
Temple's NCAA chances took a tremendous hit with an RPI wrecking home loss against Duquesne. Two narrow road escapes against UMass and Dayton have kept the Owls breathing. An impressive non-conference slate that included losses against Duke and Kansas and wins against Syracuse and Villanova helps resume. There are only so many bids that the A-10 can garner. VCU, Butler and St Louis are virtual locks and at 6-5, Temple is one of five other teams trying to get at most the two last A-10 bids.
LaSalle can put itself in commanding position with a win, which would put the Explorers 9-3 in the A-10 with a soft three game stretch coming up prior to St Louis. With wins over VCU, Villanova and Butler, a win at Temple should seal the deal and deliver a Rocky Balboa upper cut to its crosstown rivals.
Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to 247Sports.com’s coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein