I know what you’re thinking, “C’mon man this was just an exhibition game”, and I get it BUT it’s hard not to get excited about this squad. So here are 5 takeaways I learned from watching the Miami Hurricanes IUP matchup. (Credit Title photo to University of Miami Athletics)
The team is very versatile offensively
Norchad Omier really impressed me with his ability to put the ball on the floor, it adds a new dynamic to this offense. Anthony Walker and Jordan Miller both went 1-2 from 3PT land, if they can both consistently knock down open threes it will provide even MORE spacing. Isaiah Wong was 3-3 from deep as well and got whatever he wanted when attacking the basket. Wong looks like a legit Player of the Year candidate. You add in Nijel Pack and Wooga taking a leap as a scorer, and that’s a recipe for an elite offense.
Nijel Pack isn’t just a shooter
Pack finished 1-7 from 3PT, but he had 6 assists and a few impressive drives. Offensively, he made smart decisions and ended the game with only 1 turnover. Pack was more of a pure shooter at Kansas St., but against IUP, Pack really got in his bag with some great moves to finish at the rim. Defensively, Pack was impressive as well, he consistently stayed in front of his man without fouling and was great on the defensive glass with 6 rebounds.
Wooga has taken that next step
Wooga really impressed me on both sides of the floor. The sophomore guard was electric in transition with a few impressive dunks. In the half court Wooga showed off his ability to create his own shot and a great ability to attack the basket. Defensively, Wooga was very active in the passing lanes, he had 2 steals and a few tipped passes.
This team is deeper
Last season, you could argue that the offense struggled at times when the starters came out of the game. Against IUP, Norchad Omier and Wooga Poplar both got into foul trouble and Bensley Joseph and Anthony Walker got a good number of minutes. Offensively, there didn’t seem to be a drop off in the team’s performance. This appears to be the case because Anthony Walker has improved as a shooter and Bensley Joseph is more comfortable offensively as a playmaker and scorer. Harlond Beverly has dealt with injuries the past couple seasons but is now healthier and should slowly start to get some minutes.
Miami also has some talented freshmen that could see some playing time as well. Aire, specifically, had 3 blocks in just 3 minutes in the exhibition game. Aire showed he can impact the game immediately as a rim protector, I could see some of the other freshmen getting some minutes as the season progresses.
There is a case to be made that Miami can play 8-9 guys on a given night. The difference between last season and this season is the talent disparity between the starters and those 3-4 guys coming off the bench is not as significant.
Miami is going to be even better defensively
Miami will be a better defensive team because of more athleticism/speed and more depth. Jordan Miller and Norchad Omier are both versatile enough to guard post players as well as guards on the perimeter. Omier brings an elite shot blocking ability for his size as well. There is a noticeable difference in terms of athleticism and speed with this team, and because of it IUP struggled to get open looks. Expect Miami to force teams to take more contested jump shots, creating long rebounds, allowing Miami to get out in transition.
The college basketball season is upon us! Excited to announce that I will be in attendance for Miami’s regular season opener against Lafayette next Monday night! Go Canes!