Miami basketball preview!

 #49 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #25 R.P.I. Miami: 

Virginia Tech men’s basketball is close to gettin’ it Rollin’, again.

The Hokies just played one of their best 20-minute spans in dispatching and then keeping their foot down on Syracuse. Dare to say, they put the squeeze on the Orange. Now another orange-(n-green) clad team offers opposition. As we now sojourn on a semi-quick Association -esque 48-hour turn down to Coral Gables to face the hooping version of Da U. Miami enters the fray at: a sweet-16 up vs. only 5 down; (.636, or seven vs. four along the Atlantic shore or in-league play). Miami -as you will briefly read- has changed a lot since we saw them last. And they have been uneven ⇑ and ⇓ or rather even {sic: .5oo} themselves since they sprinted out to a nifty 13-1 overall starting record back in 2o22. Nevertheless, what you wanna know is… who is gonna win and by how much, rights? So, read on, to find… out!

Miami Head CoachJames Joseph Larrañaga: Age=73, 712–479 (.598) overall, and
242–145 (.625) at Miami.
$1,300,000.oo base (w/ $700k for retention); i.e., pretty much a steal at this level.

(antediluvian) swagg.

6′3″ baller Larrañaga came up in the hard-hitting Bronx ‘hood of N.Y.C, as one of six children; Larrañaga attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, where he starred under Coach Jack Curran, graduating in 1967. He went on to play basketball at Providence College. He was the basketball team captain as a senior in 1971, leading Providence College to a 2o–8 record and an N.I.T. birth. He graduated as the school’s 5th all-time leading scorer with 1,258 points and was the team’s top scorer as a sophomore and junior, being named New England’s Division I Sophomore of the Year in 1969. After Providence, baller Larrañaga was 5th round of the 1971 N.b.a. Draft by the Detroit Pistons. However, baller Larrañaga never sought an NBA career, tho’ he did ball overseas for Geronemo Basketball Club (Belgium), in 1976; then he opted instead to go into coaching. Jim’s grandfather was born in Cuba of Basque parents and was part of the Por Larrañaga cigar company in that country.

Coach Larrañaga prior to his time at Miami, he served as head coach at Bowling Green (1986-1997) and more notably at George Mason University (1997-2011), where he coached the Patriots to 13 consecutive winning seasons and became a media sensation during the Patriots’ improbable run to the Final-4 in 2006. Coach Larrañaga has ten conference titles to his claim and he won four different National Coach of the Year awards in 2o13) to pair with one other in 2oo6, and five conference Coach of the Year awards -from three conferences (A.c.c., C.A.A., and M.A.C.) along the way. Coach Larrañaga is a man who reads books by the Dalai Lama, quotes Confucius, Aristotle and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the locker room starts practices by giving players a “Thought of the Day” and uses quotes and themes from movies such as “Drumline” and “You Got Served” for his pregame speeches. He has a butterfly release program for his ballers each pre-season and is a quiet and highly mercurial sort. He is known for being meticulous -he carries his very own: 1o8-page coaching guide compiled from years of taking notes- and industrious in his approach to hard-nosed defense and rebounding, with a slashing attacking O on-court. Coach Larrañaga took Sun Tzu’s Art of War apart and re-wrote it for basketball purposes, turning it into what he calls “The Art of War for hoops. WOW, and far out, alike!

Professor Larrañaga was appointed as an associate professor in the George Mason School of Management (2oo6); specifically, in the school’s Executive M.B.A. program. Although his basketball schedule only allows him to teach part-time, he is a frequent presenter in classes on leadership, management, and team development, and also often speaks at Management School-sponsored seminars. He had been a guest lecturer in the field of Management since arriving at Mason in 1997.

There were i-net whispers that Larrañaga is “coach-3” in the college basketball corruption probe earlier last year (per: USA Today).

And as much as I do like Professor J, this seemed to be twilight coach folks… as his last winning season was 2o18. (And yet 2o22 wants a word -thus far- with dat).

Daddy Larrañaga is married to Liz’ and they have two sons and four grandchildren. Their son Jay played for his father at Bowling Green, was the head coach of the NBDL’s Erie Bayhawks,
and is now the top assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. Jon was a member
of his father’s George Mason teams from 1999-2003, earning first-team
academic all-American honors for NCAA Division I-AA school

Miami at a glance:

  • 23rd best in FT percentage!!
  • 27th in Showtime or fast-break ppg!!
  • 35th in FG percentage itself!
  • 36th most fouls/game ‘whistled’ against!
  • 44th best Effective FG percentage!
  • 326th in bench scoring!!! (VT is 332nd here, so a pine spark could go a long way for either club).
  • MEMO: notice that everything else was 22oth (D-rebounding is C-) or better. Lottsa uppercase double-digit or lowercase triple-digit rankings. Not epic, tho’ very very solid to downright good everywhere you look).
  • NO injuries reported! (“THX” @Coach God).

Returning Starters=2*

Miami Strengths:

  • * (Lindy’s pre-season All-A.c.c. honoree, 1st-string): Isaiah Wong (now) only Wangs Miami’s Chung… what with being the gold-medal scorer at 16.2 ppg and a solid looking 4.7 rpg. This is with the team pacing at 3.6 apg and 1.4 spg. This Wong goes 6′4″, 184 lbs., as a twice-r-Juniorific breakout Two or off-G. Isaiah was the 78th Rivals **** or 4-star kid nationally three years back and Wong’sanity may or may not be sweeping So.Beach as I type. That said, he went to the same H.S. as 1973 Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti; so, there is that. And he was something of an outburst scholastic scorer in/around Philly then over in Jersey. “Zay” as he likes to be called… is living at the charity stripe and he lives team-wide 2nd-best enuff at 82.5%. Lindy’s calls this kid a: “dynamic scorer” and thus far 2023 is calling that bet square enough. As Wong did have a histrionic of late-game scholastic heroics, he was said to be a ‘breakout’ scorer by several other mag’s and if/when he lengthens his range and tickles the twine fo’ mo’ than 28.9% career-long. As well, he 2023 has now, what with a highly respectful 37% on his 3-ball this season. Look out! As this kid can put the mid to short-range biscuit in the basket. Has added a little bit of right mass or sinew since we saw him last… (needed it too). And somehow found 1-inch in height to boot (pun, intended). A bit streaky this Wong… tho’ streaking hotter Wong will wok you up. Could prolly put in 31st.Oct. has Will Smith costume party lookalike work if he wanted it as well. (UPDATE: this Wong be flaccid, and not only of late… since mid-January he has cooled his So.Beach high heels a bit). Then, however, I found this… +6% better from the floor @home and likewise a Heat-checking +11% better from behind the arc @home). Guess where this one d.Waye’ville, is? As this is an export baller, and that is not the worst Dale Solomon earning thing.
  • * Jordan Miller is a: 6′7″, 194 lb., transfer Off-G from: Middleburg, Va. This is by way of being a Middleburg, Va., escapee. Did Eye mention is Middleburg non-Blacksburg Va., roots; yet? Jordan nets you: a 2nd-best 15.0 ppg with 5.6 rpg on 2.4 apg and 1.2 spg to help fill in your box score straight across. Not an epic guy, a good one with a lotta ‘good’-sized checks in a lotta veteran highly experienced boxes. Lindy’s says that j.Mill’ is an: “…inside-out scorer with rebounding chops.” Do not read that too often either. Good all ’round egg here folks. 37% long paired to a well above average 54% overall shows you that this fourth-year baller may have taken the proverbial efficacious ‘next step’. 3rd strung all A-10 (16 ppg) prior to Miami and he did finish 2o22 on something of a tear. Does have a history of knee (right) dings (St.Nikon help). Named the VHSL 4A Player of the Year along the way to a State Title Commonwealth bling as a Junior. And was a 2oom track-n-field star to boot. So, you know this athlete has the speed to burn. Seems to enjoy a closer or clutch-knack in tourney games and that never hurt anyone anything at all. Also seemed a mite bigger -or at least, stronger- to me upon breaking tape. This is a good Wing or quasi 2-3 hybrid get and he is a real overload with those quicks/speeds for most larger 3’s who try to check him. Prolly is a fringe overseas-caliber guy at the moment.

    NO weak sauce here!
  • Arkansas State transfer and Bluefields, Nicaragua imported 6′7″, 249 lb., Norchad Omier; is a real thumper of a four or the ‘power’ in P/F itself. This #15, too (same as Jordan above) is a really getting Miami Portal get. As in… Mr. Omier is getting you: a third-best 13.5 ppg married to a first-best 10.4 rpg. This on: ~6o% from overall and nearly 70% from the FT-line. The only thing lacking or wanting here is range (11% from 3-ball-land); tho’ that is not how he impregnates his… ‘chad. As the: (2s21-22): Sun Belt Player of the Year and the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year awards mighta been a game-flavor clue. This is from a crusher who has actually added right at a 15-lb. weight plate to his already physically clad game since he got down to Miami, FLA. Nicaraguan National Team member (16 ppg with 10-boards); so, he has global gym résumé work in tow. A strong kid who is willing (to work) on film. Kinda has a very impoverished man’s Barkley with more of a Bias framed vibe to him upon breaking tape. I did say “impoverished” tho’ that is some pretty clique company to keep. (UPDATE: has been slayin’ misses off the glass of late, almost 14 rpg in the last couple of fortnights of banging). And frankly, that much back-boarding makes you a pro’ somewhere be that domestic or export. As how many can say they tallied a double-double in every single high-school game? (26.7 points and 2o.3 rebounds per game scholastically, wowow!) Honor Roll student, and only won a National Championship (Miami, Prep’) as a junior. Plus, the much-vaunted: Nicaraguan national championship in hoops the year before that. 15th ranked Transferer, and yet N/A ranking from high school. Wild, ain’t it?
  • (Lindy’s 3rd-string All-A.c.c.): Nijel Pack is your Qb1 or Pt.Guard for Miami. Nijel packs it on at: 6′, 184 lbs., as a Kansas State transfer One, third-year Sophomoric baller. Pack drops you: 12.o ppg with 2.6 rpg and 2.5 apg. This is from a team alpha of 39.5% long. So, this Pack’er has ranged from deep.  He also paces Miami at 84.4% from the charity stripe, so the relatively only 41.1% from the floor is a bit tricky to discern here. As Nijel appears to be a better pure netter than that. Oh well, and either way… he is also said to be one of the Top transfers last year in all the nation. Top-5 or better everywhere I looked. So, this too is a rather fetching get for coach Larrañaga. As Pack was only voted All-Big-10 (One/Pt.Guard) last year. And Lindy’s only went so far as to call him an: “explosive” scorer. 9oth baller in all the land from outta high school does not suck. Neither was his 45% overall or 43.6% from behind the arc for the Wildcats. So, more was expected here— and Nigel has been scoring a bit more of late. If he finds his ceiling output-wise on O the Miami starting-5 is gonna be a seriously hard out. As Pack made a name for himself out on the Nike tour, so he appears to be able to elevate his game vs. elevated competition just the same. And he has connected with several D-1 game-winners. And he also does have a history of minor dings that have expensed him about ⅓ of a season in his career thus far. This one could mature into an international Pro’, time=tell here.

Da U Weaknesses:

  • Da U is, back! Oh wait, ‘rong… sport.
  • Metric Tons of 5th and/or 6th hear guys are gone. Massive Learning & Experience Curve departure Effects are ineffective for it too.
  • Similarly, and nearly likewise, beyond the one Four or P/F banger? This is not a very massive hoops team. Kinda Welterweight if you will in physical terms. A little bit smaller looking team for all of this as well… not mid-Major sized, just P5 bottom shelf.

Beach Bench: (depth=5’ish give/take)

Philly baller, and coolio named: Wooga Poplar is your 6′5″, 195 lb., second-season shooting G or backup Two. A little bit of a 3-n-D baller here folks. What with: 7.4 ppg with 2.9 rpg on 1.3 apg and a team-tying 1st-best 1.4 spg. The 35% from downtown is reasonable enough. The 84% from the FT-Line is nearly the 1st-best enuff. A kid who Lindy’s called: a: “viable” bench-minutes baller. 78th baller overall from Rivals from Math High School (no joke). Where Wooga only won the Philly Public League title and then cut down the Statie nets after that (in: AA-ball). That counts, and so does his off-court dirt-bike collection. Never read that one before… anywho… this does seem to be a skillful kid at times to me in the film room. Yet then he seems to disappear box-score-wise for a game or two or even for a week. Then he high-teen or low 20’s explodes again and keeps his ppg mean, median, mode, hooppin’. Go fig’ here? As this is an inconsistent one, who plays the Two. Poplar might just be popular if/when he figures it nite-in to nite-out.

6′2″, 2o7 lb., true-Soph’, Bensley Joseph is your Qb2 or caddying Pt.Guard here. Joseph minds the Hurricane store for: 5.4 ppg with 2.3 rpg and 2.3 apg in his substitute role. Good outside netter which got him cracked into this preview here. ≅38% from behind the 3-point arc is sharpshooting indeed. No.8o baller from ESPN, came up in Haiti; and does have a history of buzzer-beaters at all levels. Did however miss his entire scholastic senior season due to a (left)-ankle hurt. St.Philip bless. As you gotta wonder if this Bensley went Bentley and pegged higher on two good high school wheels?  Soccer star before all of that, so the footwork is prolly pretty tight here. Has been a mite chiller on O of late. Godspeed Haiti.

Harlond Beverly is a 6′5″, 2oo lb. 2nd-year voter from the Motor City. He was only the 42nd recruiting in America and 9th best S/G according to rivals last year. During this, he was a Michigan Class D state champion while his team merely finished 4th in the whole dang USofA. That’s “Wolverines!” all… in the meantime whoever… Beverly was hilling his way to 3.4 ppg, a somewhat improved 1 rpg, and 1.3 apg. Although his 29% from behind the arc is less than tempting, the book here says that Beverly is more of a Combo-G who can lead a team and penetrate to the basket. He is known for his versatility and his freaky athletics as well. His full name is Harlond Terrill Beverly… and he likes to go by “H”. So “H” it is as “H” is from one of the rarefied really good-looking full-family homes. Really wish I could type that out mo’ often too— I really do. Tho’ this is not your typical recruit… something of a 2020 G.Hill playing lead-G. “Thanks” @Coach God on that. Has been off this year, however, even if he found 1″ and about a 10-lb. plate this off-season. As his in-season numbers are halved (or mo’) straight across. Seems like he could be doing a bit mo here… Does have a back history… St.Wolfgang bless! That just sucks/hurts. Maybe that is the glitch?

Anthony Walker F, and his 3 ppg and 1.4 rpg have been a big disappointment to a vertically challenged Da U team thus far.  Anthony Walker goes: 6′9″, 215 lb., Four or P/F by way of localized B’More, Maryland fame. 4th-year-Super Jr. on the dead period of a year. Has a history of dings and dents, in and out of the line-up at times (Godspeed). When he is in, he is a utility frontcourt guy who can match up multiple positions if need be. The 35% overall and 25.9% from long-range (career) need some tinkering and puttering, however. Did win win win the National Prep Championships and a region championship, as well the NEPSAC AAA title game, during his lone year with the Brewster Academy team. I’d have to say that counts counts counts. Cut down two back-to-back AAAA rings behind all of dat. Kinda a mini-me Bill Russell as scholastic hardware goes. He has got five rings in fo’ years, yo’. Honor Roll student the whole time on top of that. This is not ½-bad work; considering, Walker only took up basketball at age 15! wowow!!! 256th hommie nationally by 247Sports, although consensus **** or quad-star recruit by everyone. Did not rate as high due to the late-adaptor (to hoops) as product life cycles go. Curious kid; if/when the reps/sweat all come together… gotta be some late-bloomer headroom here. That all said… his 2o23 numbers are down and you gotta wonder why? As he has been a versatile and durable Ironman if nothing else.

The key to picking this one at Miami as a 5-point Hokiebird 'dog is, what(s)?

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Illationconclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of Canes who could hurri @Tech=handful at least, maybe 6?

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is

it is hard not to be taken with Coach Larrañaga and Miami at this point.

’cause they are missing a lotta uber-experienced parts from the last time we saw ’em and that is da point.

Coach L and his small-ball up-tempo style put the damn rock through the ring; and frankly, it will take a hOkie big-O kinda nite to get them on their own backcourt in their own backyard.

As I had kinda -incorrectly- thought Miami may not be all that and a ‘snap’.
Though this is a very tight team in mostly sunny localized Sunshine State terms.


Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for a mere 17-point VomiT of a game here. And least we forget… the Forum Guide is perfected thus 2o22-2o23, far!

The annualized year-to-date vitals say that… nobody is up much of anything in shooting percentage margin (per: both scored +5%, Miami a little better on O and VeeTee a little better on D); with Miami, up +1% in 3-point percentage margin (from: a smidgeon better on O, both hit the exact same on D though), and Miami is up another nominal looking +1 carrom in rebounding margin for the duration. (Note: Miami is better than VeeTee on the O-glass, and not so much off of the D-backboard).

The most recent 5-game metrics say that… the ‘canes are now up a useful +5% in shooting percentage margin (due to: tightening up on D, tho’ both are shooting better of late on O); with Da U now up a highly visible +12% in 3-point percentage margin (thanks to: mucho stiffer 3-D and netting very well of late on O), and now the Hurricanes are up +1 miss in rebounding margin in the last fortnight of play. (Here: we see not much movement from either side, both remain C+ letter-grade teams as glassing goes in the last handful of contests).

Armchair Pt.Guard’s:

The Hokies (13-8, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) are o-4 when Cattoor sits, which underscores his value. Cattoor is on pace to finish with the best scoring average of his career, while his 3-point percentage is just higher than his career average of 41.9 percent.

LP Vinyl:
In the Hokies’ 85-7o win over Syracuse on Saturday, Virginia Tech set a program record for most assists in an A.c.c. game with 26. The Hokies attempted 32 3-pointers— their highest total since December of 2o2o. wow(s), plural.

Family Ties:
Maddox, who averages 8.5 points, is questionable for Tuesday’s game against Miami.
Coach God Bless!!!

VeeTee is +3 in R&R of late.
Miami is up +4% at the charity stripe for the year.
Miami is a 1.oo host; whereas VeeTee is .ooo or o’fer guest.

The Call

No.51 Net Ranking Virginia Tech @ no.45 Net Ranking Miami:

Mike Young has VeeTee looking a mite fresher or refreshed itself of late.

53% from the floor and nearly 42% from deep butters a lotta Owens Dining Hall bread, granted. (Name-drop intended).

7 PM kick!

Tho’ we did not exactly throttle ‘Cuse on D (allowing: ~47% overall married to 4o% long). That sure seems like a: we are gonna have to try to outscore everybody mantra to me. Tho’ how well will that ‘sing’ out on the you win 3 times in 1o All Coaching Conference road?

As the ‘Cuse near blow-out win was a nice step in (re)gaining some closing 2o23 traction.
Indeed. We needed this ‘get well soon’ offensive run like a dead man needs a coffin.

Now we got 10 fine toes to wiggle in the sand.
Or a So.Beach date 9o1-miles So-by-So-East down in Coral Gables, Florida.

Or at one tough row to hoe.


The VerdicT:

Well, I had hoped this to be a game within our reach -if not our: ‘grasp’- as Coach Robert Browning basketball goes.

Then, however, I ran the following metrics…

  • Most recent 5-game splits: Miami is nearly considerably superior in 3-point terms on both ends of the field. We are shooting okay, tho’ defending less than and not equal to: ‘okay’— whereas the Hurricanes are defending more and netting like mother lovers!
  • The Home/Away splits: +6% margin overall for Da U and then up another +9% in juggling 3-balls as the visitor. (Miami is just a bit better on O & D @home, tho’ the Gobblers cannot make a “3” with a pencil as the visitor thus far this entire campaign). Further, spies say po’ Hunter is not goodwill hunting elbow all-right just yet(s).
  • The Home/Away rec: a perfect “o” correlation here. One team has not L @home and the other team has not won one on the road.
Then Eye saw that Miami has dropped their last four games by: 1-shot, 1-shot, 1-shot, and by 2-shots.
That does not lend itself to gaining much of a traveling, shot.


The Closer:

As they say ‘over there’ in jolly ole England… “You do the maths….”

’cause a VicTory Dance just does not R.A.T.T. add up for dear ole V.P.I. here.

As we gotta break the visiting seal before we go V.T.C.C. road warrior S.E.A.L. team. Mike and ’em gotta get one before I can credibly call for the next one, right?

🌀🧑‍🦯  >>> 🏀 >>> 🦃

Until we do, any remaining All Challenging Conference roadie
vs. any hommie with a pulse is a bridge too far to me.
Tho’ this one could be a made fo’ TeeVee fun one while it lasts.


(58% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=84, Miami=89

please support the VT F.C.A.!