Miami Hurricanes Head Coach Jim Larranaga at ACC Operation Basketball

Mar 23, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga speaks to the media during practice the day before the semifinals of the South regional of the NCAA Tournament at KFC YUM!. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Miami Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga speaks to the media during practice the day before the semifinals of the South regional of the NCAA Tournament at KFC YUM!. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Hurricanes participated in the ACC’s annual Operation Basketball Season Tip-Off conference last week in Charlotte, NC. Miami Head Coach Jim Larranaga and Senior Leaders Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy met with the media and discussed the 2016-17 season.

Larranaga opened his session first discussing the 2015-16 season. He talked about last year’s Senior leaders, Guards Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan and Center Tonye Jekiri.

He also discussed the ‘Canes run in the ACC and being tied for first with North Carolina going into the last game of the regular season. Miami lost the final game of the regular season at Virginia Tech before settling for a second-place tie with Virginia.

Larranaga touched on the different make-up of this year’s team versus the Senior led team of 2015-16. He said:

"“Now we have an uphill battle because we have a very young team. We only have 10 scholarship players on the roster that are available to us. We only have five players returning. But they’re five very good players.”"

The 2016-17 team should be led by Reed, Murphy and Junior Point Guard Ja’Quan Newton. Of that trio Larranaga said:

"“Ja’Quan Newton, our point guard, Davon Reed, our shooting guard, and Kamari Murphy, one of our forwards. I think those guys have plenty of experience and know-how.”"

He then discussed his other two returning players Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Ebuka Izundu. He likes their diversity and pointed out that each of the five returnees plays a different position. Newton the point, Reed at off-guard, Lawrence at Small Forward, Murphy at Power Forward and Izundu at Center.

Miami’s bench will offer versatility. The four incoming Freshmen and Rashad Muhammad a transfer from San Jose State will give the Hurricanes quality backups at all five positions. The challenge for this season as stated by Larranaga is to blend the returnees with the “young kids”.

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  • The Hurricanes need to get stronger on the front line. Freshman Center Rodney Miller is the only player on the Hurricanes roster over 250 pounds. Larranaga discussed the need for his freshmen to get stronger.

    "“Our front court in particular is very weak physically. Kamari Murphy and Anthony Lawrence are strong, but Rodney Miller and Dewan Huell are just beginning to lift weights and become stronger, and it’s going to take them a while to adjust to the physicality of college basketball, especially at the ACC level”"

    Larranaga has proven that the U is not just a football school. In his five seasons in South Florida, the Basketball program has had far more success than the football program. Larranaga has a 175-118 record at Miami for a .674 winning percentage.

    Larranaga and Al Golden were both hired for the 2011-12 school years. Golden was 32-25 in his four and half seasons for a .561 winning percentage. His replacement for the final six games of last season, Larry Scott was 4-2 and new Miami Head Football Coach Mark Richt is 4-4 in his first season. Those three combined have a .563 winning percentage.

    Asked about the challenge of selling basketball to the Miami Community Larranaga said:

    "“Everybody told me you’ll never draw a good crowd, and my staff and I and the players were bound and determined to draw consistently on a game-by-game basis a good crowd…We are totally sold out for every game last year, we’re going to be sold out again this season.”"

    The keys to the season according to Larranaga are Sophomores Lawrence and Izundu. He is confident that if they can reach double figures “that will make us really tough”. In limited playing time last season, Lawrence averaged 4.1 points per game and Izundu 2.3 PPG.

    The Hurricanes open the season with an exhibition November 2nd against Division Two Barry University. Their first game against D1 competition is November 11 when they host Western Carolina.

    Next: Miami Hurricanes Hoops Picked 9th in ACC Poll

    The only challenge for the Hurricanes in non-conference will be playing in the Advocare Invitational Tournament in Orlando over Thanksgiving Weekend. The ‘Canes open the tournament against Stanford on Thanksgiving night. They will face Iowa State or Indiana State in the next round. The other side of the bracket has Gonzaga Quinnipiac, Seton Hall, and Florida.