Miami basketball was able to get a win Friday night against UNC Greensboro 79-65. Don’t get it twisted, UNC Greensboro is no slouch, they are a solid mid-major that made the tournament in 2018 and 2021.
This game was similar to the Lafayette game, Miami struggled a bit in the first half but then pulled away to a double-digit win. It should be noted that Jordan Miller finished with 19 pts. Miami is 1-0 this season and 16-2 the past two seasons when he scores double digits. Let’s get into these 3 cold hard facts.
Defense is quicker and more athletic
There were several glimpses last night of how good this Miami defense can be. It’s pretty apparent this team is more athletic and quicker, they are rotating and recovering quicker which prevents more open shots. UNC Greensboro got called for multiple traveling violations because the Miami defense recovered so quickly. Offensively, UNC Greensboro relied on a lot of ball screen action, but Miami did a pretty good job hedging and recovering from their ball screens.
Don’t get me wrong there are still some things to fix on the defensive side of the floor. There were a couple easy buckets given up in transition, and a few miscommunications with ball screens that left shooters open. In the postgame presser Coach L mentioned how the team committed more fouls than he would like to see. Miami basketball committed 17 fouls, but what made matters worse were that a handful of fouls were on jump shots. It’s still VERY early, but if Miami can cut down on the fouls and miscues, they can be one of the best defensive teams in the ACC.
Depth is already showing
Last season Miami played mainly a 7-man rotation, against UNC Greensboro nine players got in the game. Anthony Walker had some key defensive plays coming off the bench, and freshman AJ Casey even got some minutes. Harlond Beverly was the biggest surprise of the night knocking down three 3 pointers in 17 minutes. Bensley Joseph also hit a big three towards the end of the game as well.
The prospect of Coach L being able to play multiple guys off the bench is huge, depth is what separates good teams from great teams. During the NCAA tournament run last year, Miami’s lack of depth really showed against Kansas and contributed to them losing. The increased depth and versatility of this roster gives Coach L different options. For example, Bensley Joseph got into foul trouble, so Harlond Beverly got a boost in minutes in the second half.
Half-Court Offense is shaky at times
There is no question this team is going to be very good in transition, but Miami has been somewhat inconsistent at scoring in the halfcourt. I think this is mainly because it’s only 2 games in and guys are still individually finding their role. In the first half there were a handful of 3–4-minute segments where Miami didn’t score, which allowed UNC Greensboro to stay in the game. The scoring droughts are little worrisome, but I expect them to be less common as Miami plays more games.
In the second half these scoring droughts weren’t as severe. The reason for this is because you saw Nijel Pack and Isaiah Wong create their own offense. Nijel Pack had 10 points in the second half and looked very comfortable coming off high screens to get his jumper off. Although Wong struggled a bit in the first half, he put up 11 points in the second half. It is a small sample size, but Isaiah is shooting 40% from behind the arc so far this season. If Wong can shoot around the 40% mark it will make him even more offensively versatile.
Miami basketball improves to 2-0 and will face Florida A&M on Tuesday night. This is a game Miami should dominate, hopefully the freshmen are able to play a decent number of minutes.