It’s a battle of two Florida schools in Monday’s Know Your Opponent, as the Gators prepare for the Miami Hurricanes.
Coral Gables, Florida
Atlantic Coast Conference
Head coach: Jim Larrañaga, 4th season
2013-14 record: 17-16 (7-11 ACC, 10th place)
The Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators share significant characteristics this season. Both teams are implementing new players on a roster that will have to develop new roles different from the previous year. They both have transfers, specifically fifth-year big men. Miami forward Joe Thomas transferred from Niagara University, while Florida’s Jon Horford is a center that transferred form Michigan. In the Hurricanes’ and Gators’ respective season openers, their stats were fairly similar. Florida shot 47 percent from the field, while Miami shot 46. The Hurricanes shot 39 percent from three-point range, while the Gators shot 35 percent. Florida also had 32 points in the paint, while Miami 30.
Despite the similarities, most of the Hurricanes’ key scorers this year will not come from returning players, but transfers that are able to play after sitting out last year. Point guard Angel Rodriguez and guard/forward Sheldon McClellan are two players that will contribute in a big way for Miami this year.
5-11, 180 pounds
Angel Rodriguez is playing his first season with Miami after transferring from Kansas State in 2013. In the 2012-13 season, Rodriguez averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists with the Wildcats. The move to Miami brings the Miami Krop HS alum closer to his family in Puerto Rico and fills a void created by the abrupt departure of Shane Larkin last year.
Rodriguez is a player who will present a challenge for the Gators. He has the ability to break a defender down off the dribble, and can get to the hoop quickly. He has a great sense of shot radius when nearing defenders in the paint, floating shots over big men if needed. He also has the ability to shoot from long range, with nine of his 16 points in Friday’s win over Howard coming from beyond the three-point line.
6-5, 205 pounds
Providing the other part of the Canes’ one-two punch this season will be Sheldon McClellan. Like Rodriguez, McClellan is also a Big 12 transfer, playing his first season with Miami after playing two with Texas. In the 2012-13 season, McClellan averaged 13.5 points and 3.9 rebounds. The redshirt junior also had a career-high 27 points against Texas Tech in on March 9.
McClellan has the ability to score from multiple spots on the court, accumulating 19 points on 8-12 shooting Friday night. The guard/forward also has great awareness, getting near the basket on fast breaks and getting in the paint for rebounds and high-percentage shots. McClellan had four rebounds against Howard.
5-11, 170 pounds
While Rodriguez and McClellan may garner attention on the scouting report, another player that will contribute significantly is Manu Lecomte. The guard from Brussels, Belgium had a strong offseason, leading his Belgian squad to the championship game of the FIBA U20 European Championships, Division B. He was named to the U20 Men’s Division B All-Tournament team after averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
The tournament seemed to have done a lot for Lecomte’s game, as he doubled last year’s season scoring average in Friday’s win. The guard had 14 points, shooting 5-9 from the field and 3-6 from three-point range. He’ll be another point guard that can score from different spots on the court, while also displaying quickness that will force defenses to keep him in front of them.
How they fare against Florida
Watching the game film from Miami’s contest against Howard gave an insight to the scoring abilities of the Hurricanes, while also displaying how bad the Bison are. The Hurricanes got to the basket throughout the night, and were able to run a few fast breaks off of turnovers. Tonye Jekiri had a strong night in the paint, pulling down 11 rebounds and was active during the game. While Jekiri only had six points, the Gators, even more limited in the post with a hairline fracture to Dorian Finney-Smith, will have to account for the big man.
However, the Hurricanes did show issues that can be exploited. The Gators will have their hands full with the guards they’ll face, but can capitalize on cohesion issues leading to a lack of offensive rhythm at times. Many of their 13 turnovers were from ill-advised or telegraphed passes. Howard was able to get 16 points off those turnovers, and with an overall faster (and better) team, Florida should be able to get even more. Miami’s defense was average. The rotations were slightly off at times, and Florida’s guards should be able to get into the paint if they want to. Jekiri can challenge shots, but also can get in foul trouble. If Florida attacks the paint in addition to the threes they will shoot, it should be a game the Gators take care of.