Jim Larranaga envisions Chris Lykes as the next Larkin or Rodriguez

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: Chris Lykes
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: Chris Lykes /

Appearing on the Joe Rose show on the Miami Hurricanes flagship station WQAM this morning UM basketball coach Jim Larranaga said he thinks that Canes Sophomore point guard Chris Lykes can play like former Miami point guards Shane Larkin or Angel Rodriguez.

Lykes maturation process this season was one of many topics that Jim Larranaga discussed with Joe Rose and co-host Zach Krantz is just over a ten-minute appearance. Miami will open the season on Friday night against Lehigh who is picked to win the Patriot League.

Miami returns three starters. Lykes started ten games last season. The diminutive point guard and 6’10 Junior center-forward Dewan Hernandez are the cornerstones of the Miami basketball team for 2018-19. Hernandez leads the Miami returnees in scoring and rebounding at 11.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG.

Among the other items that Jim Larranaga discussed with Rose and Krantz were how many players Miami would have in their rotation this season, the improvement that Dewan Hernandez has made and which players will be in the rotation.

They began first with discussing the season opener on Friday night against Lehigh. Mountain Hawks guard Lance Tejada, Lehigh who made it to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from Miramar, Florida via East Carolina was picked preseason to the Patriot League First-team.

"We’re going to get a big test right away…They’re an outstanding three point shooting team and uh, these guys are going to have to step up and play some great basketball to get us off to a good start this year.”"

That was preceded with Jim Larranaga discussing his own team’s outlook for the 2018-19 season.

"“Well, it’s an interesting group. Fans will really, really like certain areas of our game. We have to improve. It’s very obvious (in) practice.”"

Lykes could be the most important player Miami has this season. The Hurricanes lost star guard Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker and point guard Ja’Quan Newton who hit the memorable buzzer beater at North Carolina last season.

Lykes and Hernandez will have plenty of help in what will likely be a seven-man rotation at least early in the season.

"“Well, I think is definitely in our thinking at this point, but I’m hoping I can add at least an eighth and maybe ninth…We have some young guys starting with, uh, Anthony Mack a transfer student from Wyoming. He’s about six-five, 220 pounds. We’re hoping that we can get him some playing time early in the season because I think he can really help us in the long run.Deng Gak Who’s a 6’11 Uh, he’s a sophomore. He redshirted last year. Uh, we think he’s got a great deal of potential…The seven guys that were counting on to really lead us in the early going is going to be Chris Lykes at the point a DJ Vasiljevic (a) junior (who is an) outstanding three-point shooter…Zach Johnson a transfer from Florida Gulf coast, but who played high school basketball at Norland High School (in Miami) along with Dewan Hernandez, and then we, we have Anthony Lawrence (who) is now a senior.Ebuka Izundu the senior, uh, Dewan who’s a junior and Sam Waardenburg the young man from New Zealand who…nicely contributed last year as a Freshman.”"

"A lot is expected from Hernandez this season after he declared for the NBA Draft and decided to return to school in the offseason. He also changed his last name from Huell to Hernandez to honor his mother. Larranaga spoke about the expectation from the Hurricanes best low post player this season.“His game, that’s what we’ve been working on the two seasons for him to really…develop an identity, a style of play that can work for him consistently. Well. And we, we see the progress.Last year he got himself off to a great start, November and December and then tailed off a little bit in January and February. And we felt like he tailed off because he lost his identity. He didn’t, he didn’t continue to do the things that he was capable of doing.He started to experiment trying new things…During the season is not the time to do that, but so far this year he’s done an absolutely great job in practice in our experiments and in our exhibition game of keeping it very simple and if he can continue to do those things, I think he can have an outstanding junior year”"

Lykes, Hernandez and Johnson are likely to be Miami’s three go-to players this season. Last month Jim Larranaga said that Lykes is being given the keys to the Hurricanes offense. Comparing him to Larkin and Rodriguez puts him among the greatest players in Miami history.

"“Now you what with my conversations and my staff’s talks with, with Chris, we need to hit for him to play like…Shane Larkin or an Angel Rodriguez where he’s kind of a Jack of all trades.Doing a lot of different things for us….putting pressure on the ball, being a catalyst defensively, but on our offense, being able to hit the three, being able to penetrate and pitch and create shots for others and then be able to make big shots the end of these games because we’re always playing in these very close games.Last year we went eight and two in games decided by five points or less. So that was an outstanding job. We, we hope that that will become a consistent way to end games.”"

One of the keys as the season evolves will be finding the player who can be the closer for them at the end of games. Although the Hurricanes were 8-2 in games decided by five points or less one of those losses was to Loyola (Chicago) in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hurricanes were sloppy in the final minute against the Ramblers and that cost them. That cannot happen this year. Lykes is going to have to take care of the ball and Hernandez has to be a presence up front for the Hurricanes to have a successful season.

dark. Next. Mixed reviews on early Bracketology for Miami Hurricanes?

Lykes, Hernandez and Johnson will be the key players. The other players behind them will be role players.