Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Saturday, Noon, ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien, Jay Bilas)
Season To Date: Miami has no doubt been inconsistent this season, but their record can be a bit misleading for two reasons. First, their non-conference schedule was filled with a number of tough opponents. While eight of their nine wins are against low-quality opposition (Texas-Arlington, Morgan St., NC A&T, Wofford, Stetson, etc.), all six of their losses have been to good teams. They weren't expected to win at Michigan, at NC State, or against Louisville or Florida. One must also take into consideration that starting point guard Anthony Harris missed the first seven games of the season (Miami was 4-3 during that stretch) with a broken foot. In fact, the 'Canes enter Saturday's game coming off their best game of the season -- a win last Saturday over Maryland -- in which they shot 63 percent from beyond the arc and outrebounded the Terps.
Three Guards: The Miami offense relies heavily on its three starting guards: Anthony Harris, Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite. None are over 6-2, but they can all shoot, pass and defend -- while Hite and Diaz are also suprisingly good rebounders thanks to their athleticism and toughness. When this trio isn't shooting the ball well, Miami has little chance at winning, as was the case against Louisville (combined 24% FG, 15% 3pt). But when they're on top of their game, Miami can beat anyone in the ACC. In the win over Maryland, the three guards combined for 65 of the team's 84 points, while hitting 69 percent of their three-point attempts.
Inside-Out: A shooting display like the one the starting guards put up against Maryland isn't going to happen often, however, so Miami must work the ball inside to Anthony King. The 6-9 junior is a known weapon on defense (ACC's All-Defensive Team last season with 3.0 bpg) and on the boards, but he has developed into a quality close-range scorer as well. However, he's averaging less than four made field goals per game. Why? Part of the responsibility goes to the guards for not getting him the ball more often, but head coach Frank Haith puts the blame squarely on King's shoulders, saying his starting center is too passive. "We've got to have better production out of our post players," Haith said. "That's the most important thing we have to work on. ... [Anthony] has got to want the ball, not only when we call a play specifically to throw him the ball, but there's other times in our offense when we're running our motion game where he should be wanting the ball and getting the ball in post-up opportunities."
Slowed Star(s): Guillermo Diaz was a superstar on last year's team. He was explosive and exciting, one of the league's best leapers, and earned second-team All-ACC honors. His numbers haven't fallen off that far this year, but he's clearly not the same player. In fact, going into the Maryland game, he'd only dunked once all season. That's because of right knee tendonitis. Offseason surgery didn't improve the condition, so Diaz has decided he'll have to just play with pain. The other two guards are playing hurt as well. Anthony Harris is playing with an ankle injury and Robert Hite has been hampered by a sore back. The Miami Herald dubbed them the "all-heat pad trio." Haith acknowledged the situation -- "Hey, there's a lot of hurt here," he said. "A lot of hurt. But we've got to fight through it."
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series between the two schools, 8-1. The only Miami win was 2003 matchup in Coral Gables. The Tar Heels have cruised to a win against the 'Canes in each of the last two meetings, winning by an average of 22.5 points. Last January, Guillermo Diaz's 30 points at the Smith Center were not enough, as Sean May posted 17 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks in an 87-67 Tar Heel win.
Background Location: Coral Gables, Fla. Enrollment: 15,250 Conference: ACC Nickname: Hurricanes Colors: Orange, Green & White Head Coach: Frank Haith Record at UM: 25-19
Projected Starters: 12 Anthony Harris (6-2, 187, Jr.) – 10.4 ppg, 2.5 apg 13 Guillermo Diaz (6-2, 195, Jr.) – 16.2 ppg, 3.3 apg 22 Robert Hite (6-2, 190, Sr.) – 15.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg 2 Gary Hamilton (6-10, 265, Sr.) – 4.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg 50 Anthony King (6-9, 235, Jr.) - 9.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg Key Reserves: 15 Denis Clemente (6-0, 165, Fr.) – 7.1 ppg, 2.3 apg 42 Raymond Hicks (6-7, 230, So.) - 3.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg 00 Jimmy Graham (6-8, 245, Fr.) – 2.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg 32 Brian Asbury (6-7, 210, Fr.) – 2.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Hite ... Diaz
King ... Hamilton
Harris ... Clemente