The hottest men’s basketball team in the ACC will visit Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.
No. 14 Miami (15-3, 6-0) has won seven straight games, including back-to-back home wins over Duke (90-63) and Florida State (71-47).
“We’ve got to bring the same energy and enthusiasm that we had here at home in front of the hometown crowd. We’ve got to take our show on the road and play with a certain amount of conviction,” said UM coach Jim Larranaga, whose team will also be on the road Saturday for a game at North Carolina State.
Miami’s playing rotation features five seniors.
“Everybody would really love to have experienced talent,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose team lost at home to Miami. “They have experience, but they have talented players too.”
Miami’s point guard is a sophomore — Shane Larkin, the son of former Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin
Larkin had 18 points and 10 rebounds against Duke. He ranks first in the ACC in steals (2.2 spg), seventh in assists (4.1 apg) and second — behind Virginia Tech counterpart Erick Green — in minutes (35 mpg).
“He’s terrific at everything,” Larranaga said. “He had 10 rebounds and nine rebounds in our last two games and he’s not even 6 feet tall. He runs the team, he shoots the 3, he handles the press. He’s having an all-conference-caliber year.”
“He is definitely one of the best point guards in the league,” Tech coach James Johnson said.
Tech (11-8, 2-4) also has a standout point guard. Green, who leads the nation in scoring (25.2 ppg), had 25 points and five assists in Sunday’s loss at Clemson.
“He draws an unbelievable amount of free throws and fouls,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said of Green. “I wasn’t happy about some of them because I think he initiates contact sometimes.
“But what really impresses me about Erick Green is you keep going on the stats [sheet] and you see five assists and one turnover. When he’s being harassed like he is, for him to still have the wherewithal to pass it and find guys for assists — he sees two and three plays ahead much better than most college kids. He’s at a much higher level than anybody else right now.”
Tech women slumping
The Virginia Tech women’s basketball team has lost seven straight games, including four to nationally ranked foes. The Hokies have failed to reach 50 points in six of those seven losses.
“We’re still a work in progress,” said coach Dennis Wolff, whose team hosts Clemson on Thursday. “We’re going to just have to be patient.”
The Hokies (7-12, 1-7 ACC) are ranked 338th out of 343 Division I teams in scoring offense (49.7 ppg). Tech is last in the ACC in field-goal percentage (36.3 percent).
“Some of the girls’ confidence level gets shaken and they pass up what appears to be a good shot and then we end up at the end of a shot clock forcing a shot up,” Wolff said. “We need to find some more girls that are willing to try to make plays.”
The Hokies are coming off a 70-56 loss at nationally ranked Florida State on Sunday. The score was tied at 45 with 8:58 to go.
After four straight games in which the Hokies shot worse than 30 percent from the field, the Hokies shot 37.9 percent Sunday. They also turned the ball over 23 times.
“We made progress,” Wolff said. “We just make mistakes at inopportune times.”
Junior-college transfer Uju Ugoka has struggled of late. The power forward is just 14 of 54 from the field (26 percent) the past four games.
“The sizes [of opposing players] and the attention being given to her has made it a little more complicated for her,” Wolff said. “Three of her misses [Sunday] were point-blank layups; there were big girls around her that caused her to alter her shot.”
Last week, Tech fell behind 16-0 in a 58-39 loss at North Carolina State. Guard Monet Tellier did not play for the first 5:23 of that loss because of a violation of team rules. It was the second time in the past eight games that she did not start for disciplinary reasons.
“I want to see … some maturity and some growth,” Wolff said of Tellier.
One problem with the offense, said Wolff, is that “we don’t have a point guard.”
Aerial Wilson started at point guard last year, when she averaged 12.1 points. But she hasn’t started since the opener this season and played just 11 minutes Sunday.
“She’s just not playing quite as well as she did at different times last year,” Wolff said.
W&L men clicking
After dropping four straight games, the Washington and Lee men’s basketball team has won four of its past five games.
Last weekend, the Generals beat Virginia Wesleyan for the first time since December 2001. W&L won 69-68, handing the visiting Marlins their first ODAC loss of the season. W&L (10-9, 5-5) snapped a 23-game losing streak in the series.
“It validates some of the things that we’ve been working on together as a team,” coach Adam Hutchinson said. “I’m really happy for some of our younger players because those [type of] wins feel good.”
This is the third straight year that the Generals don’t have a dominant scorer.
“We really haven’t had that probably since [Ben] Goetsch graduated, where we say, ‘There’s one guy we can play off of.’ So it really spreads the responsibility out,” Hutchinson said. “It really requires every guy to make good decisions about, ‘This is a good shot or this isn’t.’ If you do it that way, then you’re hard to scout.”
The Generals’ attack includes Javon McDonald (11.9 ppg), J.D. Ey (9.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Andrew Franz (9.8 ppg).
No. 14 Miami at Virginia Tech
9 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum
Records: Miami 15-3, 6-0 ACC; Virginia Tech 11-8, 2-4.
TV: CSN Plus (including Cox Ch. 9) and Comcast Network; joined in progress at 9:30 p.m. on CSN
Last meeting: Tech won 81-75 in OT at home on Dec. 18, 2000
Va. Tech probable starters: F Jarell Eddie (14.4 ppg), F C.J. Barksdale (5.3 ppg), C Cadarian Raines (6.4 ppg), G Marquis Rankin (2.9 ppg), G Erick Green (25.2 ppg).
Miami probable starters: F Kenny Kadji (13 ppg), C Julian Gamble (6.5 ppg), G Shane Larkin (12.3 ppg), G Durand Scott (14.3 ppg), G Trey McKinney Jones (10.1 ppg).
Notes: This telecast will begin on CSN’s overflow channel, with the regular CSN channel joining the game once tonight’s Washington Wizards game ends. … Miami center Reggie Johnson (10.6 ppg) has come off the bench the past two games after missing eight games with a broken thumb. … UM coach Jim Larranaga used to be the coach at George Mason, where Tech coach James Johnson was his assistant for two seasons, including the year the Patriots made the Final Four. “He was a great friend and continues to be,” Larranaga said. “He’s done a very, very good job with his team. A lot of things, when I watch them on tape, remind me of us. They’re a little bit younger than us, but they do a lot of the things we like to do.” … Tech’s Robert Brown, who came off the bench Sunday at Clemson, is shooting 22 percent from the field in his last 10 games. “He’s still got to get better but I thought he took a step forward [Sunday],” Johnson said