A few hundred yards from where the University of Miami football team opened camp Tuesday, the Hurricanes men’s basketball team was busy at work in the campus Fieldhouse, preparing to travel to Spain for a 10-day, four-game summer tour from Aug. 12-22.
The Hurricanes will play against professional and semi-pro teams in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona. They will also participate in educational, cultural and community service activities.
Miami has nine newcomers on the 2014-15 roster, including six recruits — Kamari Murphy, Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, Omar Sherman, Joe Thomas (a fifth-year senior and Miami Krop grad) and Ivan Cruz Uceda (from Spain). Other additions include Big 12 transfers Angel Rodriguez from Kansas State and Sheldon McClellan from Texas. Redshirt freshman Deandre Burnett, who sat out the 2013-14 season with an injury, will rejoin the active roster.
Rodriguez, McClellan and Burnett are expected to play major roles this season.
Only three players return from last season: junior Tonye Jekiri and sophomores Manu Lecomte and Davon Reed. Lecomte spent time in his native Belgium this summer playing for their youth national team, and UM coach Jim Larrañaga said Lecomte came back stronger and a better defender.
Larrañaga hopes the trip will be a good bonding experience on and off the court.
The Hurricanes were 17-16 last season, following a Sweet 16 berth in the NCAA Turnament the year before.
“We have nine players who have never worn a Miami uniform before going to be competing this year,” Larrañaga said. “We need them to become a team, acquainted with each other, on the court, off the court, so they can function as one. Our trip to Spain will hopefully accomplish that.
“We have four games which will allow me to try different combinations of lineups against outside competition who don’t know what we’re running, and we don’t know what they’re running. Great for the players to spend time off the court; each will have different roommates in each city.”