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#154 R.P.I. Miami #5o R.P.I. Virginia Tech: 

Virginia Tech men’s basketball returns to post-Christmas work with a home run on Tuesday night.

The Hokies now host the 4 up and 2 down (o-1 in A.c.c. play), Miami Hurricanes. The ‘Canes are only two-shots removed from a shiny looking 5-1 (Florida Gulf Coast shocked them by 4-points; 62-66 against). That when Miami was only fielding six that’s (6) scholarship ballers… mo’ on dat below. However, this is supposed to be a post-season or tournament type of Miami hoops squad. The only real question is… what caliber of tourneying? Nonetheless, you wanna know who is gonna win and by how much, right? So, read on to find… outs!

Miami Head CoachJames Joseph Larrañaga: Age=71, 664–449 (.597) overall, and
194–115 (.628) at Miami.
$1,300,000.oo base (w/ $700k for retention)

(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), 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 baller’s 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).

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 his 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:

  • 14th most personal fouls ‘whistled’ against/game!!
  • 18th in Swat-Team work (bpg)!!
  • 24th in the defensive glass. (most are 1-n-done here)!
  • 43rd in scoring D allowed.
  • 45th in FG percentage D allowed.
  • 323rd in 3-point percentage… thus far!!!
  • Miami is so-so to decent on O less 3-point%; other than that, everything else is C+ or better.

…and oh yes, Coach God Bless, Miami (now) has (as of Mon.nite), five that’s (5) significant injuries listed for this one!

Returning Starters=4

Miami Strengths:

  • Da U is ‘posed to be pretty backcourt thick this year.
  • Very experienced squad in modern early early-entry terms.
  • 5′7″, 16o lb., mini-me, mighty-mite, (found 12 squat lbs. of musculature; then he cut another 5 lbs. of sinew) supercalifragilistic as he can vertically be. As one #2, Chris Lykes, was the alpha swagg on offense for da U with a now second-best 15.5 ppg on a slumping 36.4% from the floor, and yet a saltwater 45.5% deep and now a sharp-looking and near A.c.c. leading 90% FTA’s. Lykes is leading da U in dimes dropped (5.5 apg) and the blue ribbon in swipes (2.o spg) and his highly impressive short-stuff 4 rpg ain’t hurting a team that needs a lotta helping (1ι) one-iota either. Although Chris’ handles -or lack thereof- at a moderate looking 1.5 tpg shows you just how much Lykes is trying to do for Miami this year. i.e., too much even for a pretty slick street-baller to go Atlas try to carry upon his B+ caliber although type A-game inner-city back. That being said, on an inch-for-inch or lb. for lb. basis… who is doing Atlantic Coast dynamo more? Be that on-court or off-court in All-A.c.c. Academic Team and A.c.c. Academic Honor Roll terms. This from the ESPN no.45 baller in America who is yet another District escapee who did not wanna run ball for VeeTee. As Lykes was only the 2016 Washington, D.C. Gatorade Player of the Year. As the book here reads: Lykes is a skilled ball handler with a dynamic combination of quickness and shooting ability who can finish in traffic with contact or hit long-range threes. Chris nearly netted 50% of his threes in scholastic terms even if he does appear to palm the ball a bit on tape. In particular upon his inbounds reception initial bounce. 1st-string All-A.c.c. per Lindy’s preview mag’ as well if you need him. (UPDATE: poor Chris, is suffering from a turned left-ankle St.Phillip bless! He has missed the last four contests and is listed as: “QUESTIONABLE” here. This after suffering a grounded landing on a 3-point attempt vs. Stetson ballers foot, yikes!)
  • Oklahoma transfer, Kameron McGusty is a pretty useful looking 6′5″, 19o lb., r-Sr. off-G by way of Katy, Tx. He of 10.5 ppg, 2.1 apg, .8 spg, and 3.5 rpg. McGusty has some scoring gusto indeed… 3o% long-range and formerly being ranked as the no. 46 prospect, including the No. 10 Shooting Guard, by ESPN says so. As does Kameron’s sporting-family tree which blossoms roundballs this time of year. McGusty is whispered to have snubbed V.Tech who (seemed) to have a fair-to-middling shot at him at the last minute. As this kid was a 40% boomer-bomber from deep for OK-U. So, he can make it rain from 3-point-land once he gets it going— (although when studying his game-log, I was left wondering if this is the rarefied Michael Cooper kinda kid who is more comfortable in relief as a highly-coveted 6th-man type role? As his 3-pointer digits have noticeably regressed per starting minutes) (UPDATE: “QUESTIONABLE” with a right ‘leg-injury’ that has sat him for the last two-games; St.Nikon bless!)
  • Isaiah Wong (now) only Wangs Miami’s Chung… what with being the gold-medal scorer at 19 ppg and a nifty looking 6.2 rpg to top-shelf all of that. This Wong goes 6′3″, 18o lbs., as a r-Soph breakout Two or off-G. Isaiah was the 78th Rivals kid nationally two 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 okay here at 71%. Lindy’s calls this kid a: “dynamic scorer” and thus far 2020 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 31.3% long? Look out! As this kid can put the mid to short-range biscuit in the basket.

    Timbbbbbbbbbbbbbber!” (see: below)

Cane Weaknesses:

  • Da U is ‘posed to be pretty frontcourt thin this year.
  • Miami is only missing 13 ppg Dejan Vaselivic and a frontcourt sub. Not real bad as departures go.
  • Tho’ to be so heavily backcourt forecasted nobody predicted this chilly of a shooting front to set in for a 1 through 3 heavy roster. Maybe that will change… or blow, over, tho’ right now the U’s backcourt barometer is reading… lowly as MB’s of Mercury goes.
  • Health… this is one insalubrious looking team at the moment… Godspeed!
  • Reserve New Zealander Sam Waardenburg is done for the duration with a ‘substantial’ left-foot injury. St.Sebastian help! As the 6′10″, 226 lb., r-Sr. year Kiwi was only Miami’s leading rebounder a year ago and his 7 ppg and 7 rpg on 68% hurts a thinning set of paint-players all the mo’.

Miami Bench: (depth=2-n-change most nites)

Nysier Brooks C, is a 7′, 240 lb., r-Sr. year Five by way of Philly Pa. by way of Advanced Prep International (Texas) and they by way of Cincy. And oh by the way… he leads Miami in rebounding as a 7 rpg and in blocking 1.3 bpg as a 6.3 ppg bullpen relief pitcher upfront down-low. 44% seems a bit low from the floo’, tho’ Brooks is a big Five and he clogs the lane and cleans-up pretty well enough for only 25 mpg. And this is about 72-strokes or par for the course for the 207th recruit nationally courtesy 247Sports. (and ‘Nas keeps a smile on his face, he stays on the Dean’s List and wants to be a child-psychologist… there are worse things…)

True-C, Rodney Miller Jr., is a bulked-up looking 6′12″, 255 lb., a space-eater by way of basketball factory Oak Hill Academy who decided to finally wear his r-Shirt last season. Also, haberdashering (this is a slick-dressing kid) would be a lotta size, a few 7.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, and greater expectations to finally step-forward per his 6o% shooting in the paint (pardon the frontcourt, pun). As Rod’ cut nearly 20 lbs. during off-season workouts this summer and looks the better/fitter man for it. More active on D what with .8 bpg to boot. That said, being on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll (3.2+ G.P.A.) is a non-issue in this case so hopefully, r-Sr. year Mister Miller figures things out this year or next. As he was first seen dunking at a downright nutty age 12 and he was only the 90th ranked scholastic hardwood baller from Scout. So, more has been expected from this likable student-athlete athletically speaking to be sure. doghouse? (UPDATE: out fo’ the year: right-knee, St.Nikon bless!!!)

r-Soph., 6′10″, 211 lb. P/F and Foster’s Beer by way of Cairo, Egypt hommie, Deng Gak and his surgically repaired left-knee (St.Nikhon help); were done for the year last time we saw Miami. Also done for the year were his just south of 3 points, 4 boards, on 64% with and a swat as a back-up Four or frontcourt sub’. This from a protein shake guzzling kid who got to Miami at 195 lbs. as the no.91 ranked recruit in America per Gone also was his absurd 7′5″ wingspan, his gazelle floor running game, and his defensive acumen. As this is a name to remember, as this rare P/F mid-range oriented Gak kid (appears) to have a pretty high ceiling with some headroom to grow through indeed. (UPDATE: Gak is now back after a torn right meniscus in his knee last season. St.Nikon help! Tho’ he is now down to 1.6 ppg and 3.6 rpg this year)

Harlond Beverly is a 6′4″, 186 lb. nugget or rookie 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 which 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 is hilling his way to 8 ppg, a vastly improved 6.8 rpg, and likewise uppity 4 apg. Although his 14.3% 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. 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.

All that being said… the pine-squad just cut down to Matt Cross and Earl Timberlake with everyone else (pretty much) shelved post (pardon the sporting punny), after FLA.Gulf.Coast.U massive upset. Earl is a 6′6″, 215 lb. strapping Freshmenic looking kid with a  “sleepy” Sam Perkins set of eyes (left in particular; St.Helen bless).  Earl was only the #1 Maryland baller last year, and a consensus Top-40 kid nationally by all four major recruiting services. ‘easy’ as he has glossed himself… is a rarefied S/G who looks the really physical part. He courts the names of deceased fam’ on his sneaks and calls his grandma-maw every pre-game who Prays’ for him— and is an Honor Roll kid to boot. Said to be a kid with “toughness” and “rim-crunching” dunks. A DeeCee/DeMatha area street-star. And frankly he and his blow-out ‘fro look the streety/toughie part(s). Third, in scoring at 12 ppg already married to 5 boards with 2 dimes on 60% overall does not suck. Nor does 50% long and 85% on the FT-line. Tho’ make no misQ, this S/G has range though he’s more parts punch and less parts counterpunch. Interesting kid this Mister Timberlake, with no word from Justin yet… and yet this t.Lake is prolly an overseas pro’ already, “easily” at that. He just needs to get his trying to do too much 4.o tpg roped-in and tied-down. (UPDATE: Timberlake just sprained his right-ankle and is now “OUT” 3-5 weeks… St.Philip bless!)

Matty is a 6′7″, 225 lb. play right away rookie year baller from New Hampshire. Cross crosses you over for 6.8 ppg to go with 4.8 rpg and is said to have a tag that reads: Mister Versatile. Or that of an all-around Wing. 86th kid in America per ESPN, where he mainly (get the regional, pun?) played P/F. So, Matt Cross can prolly bang enough slotting as more of a collegiate Three. Ditto having played: played Te and De on the football field before breaking his right leg (St.Culbreth bless!) Tough kid, who looks like he will get carded well into his 30’s… this after notching a National Prep’ School championship bling. Interesting kid… will be even mo’ interesting to see how his all-around 2024 floor-game develops.

m.s. (mid-script): Matt Cross and Deng Gak were both held outta practice this week.
(St.Matthew bless!)

Stony Brook transfer lead-G: (6′5″, 2o5 lb., final0-year) Elijah Olaniyi has recently cleared eligibility standards; and so have his mucho needed 18 ppg and 6.5 rpg at S.Brook!
As this backcourt kid was all-American East 1st-string last year.

Winning vs. a hard to gauge Hurricane team in Cassell is all about, what(s)???

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Illationconclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of 'canes who could Cat' V @Tech=5.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… that Miami is pretty much what Miami always is under Coach Jim.

Well-coached. Well-schooled. And a team you have to straight-up go’on and beat as they (typically) don’t make a whole lotta misQ’s and beat themselves. Mistake chaste if you will.

Tho’ they are a little uneven, and they must have sparky backcourt play to really find the limits of their 2020-2021 headroom.

As they just do not have enough down low to really get all that ‘keyed’-up if/when the backcourt suffers an off-shooting night.

Tho’ most of my preseason magazines slotted Miami at/around 7th best in the All Coaching Conference. And yet, there are a good deal of other D-1 men’s hoops squads who wish they had Miami’s troubles in the steph.Curry backcourt centric era.

…let me tell you.


Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide of Graham Houston fame is calling for a Hurricane raincheck or an ask back in another week or two once round-robin same-on-same crime really sets in.

6 PM kickoff!

The annualized year-to-date vitals say that… V.P.I. is up +2% in shooting percentage margin (with the Hokies better on O and the ‘Canes a little better on D); with Vah.Tech up a whopping +16% in 3-point percentage margin (virtually all on O), and then with Miami up +2 caroms in rebounding margin year-to-date (tho’ both teams are doing good fiberglass work).

The most recent 5-game metrics say that… Tech is now up +1 in shooting percentage margin (little better on O little less D); the Hokies are up +12% in 3-point percentage margin (nearly all on O), and the Gobblers are now up a nominal +1 in rebounding margin of late.

VeeTee is up +4% at the charity stripe for the year.
Miami is up a scheduling quirk +8 in R&R in the last fortnight.
VeeTee is a .83o host; whereas Miami has yet to play a road game away.

The Call...

No.133 Net Ranking Miami @ no.44 Net Ranking Virginia Tech:

.235 when dialing long-distance from So.Beach is not a good look.

This has to change and Miami (heat) back up for da U; as this is supposed to be a hard to reckon with strength for the ‘Canes this campaign.

…and for that matter, is the U due to find their long-range stroke?


There are Coral Gables vibes that Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty could soon return. And dinged up All-East Coast level Earl Timberlake did just return last game. So, getting healthier here would be a big boost to a cut down to size ‘Cane backcourt. As da U’s Training Room has been a hard/sad over bet of late. (Coach God helps).

A.c.c.ordingly, ^that^ is your pre-game fulcrum to the Coastal Division teeter-totter here gents.

IF, these kids are back, Miami has a fair to middling shot (pun intended) to muck around with us. IF, these kids are at least another game away, you have to favor Hokie health @home.

Ergo, therefore, to Whit; ask the pre-game broadcast if you wish to cast a truly comprehensive OPT, net.

As Eye was toying with the Miami upsetting pick— until I read the Miami injury report.
Which is pretty dang upset in its own right.


(55% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=76, Miami=73

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