The 11th-ranked University of Miami men’s basketball team remained undefeated with a 90-59 victory over Florida A&M on Thursday night at the Watsco Center; but listening to coach Jim Larrañaga afterward, you would think the Hurricanes lost the game by 31.
“I told the team after that I was extremely disappointed in our effort,” Larrañaga said. “We were sluggish. We didn’t take care of the ball. And our free-throw shooting was atrocious. We need to play much harder and much better.”
Five takeaways from the game:
▪ The Hurricanes continue to struggle at the free-throw line. It has been a problem in all three games, and Thursday’s 10-of-22 shooting (46.2 percent) left Larrañaga livid. “It’s all mental because when we do our free-throw shooting at the end of practice, they shoot a high percentage. On Saturday, we’re going to run them for every miss because I think it’s a lack of maturity on our part. It’s about mental focus. You go to the foul line, you should be excited. That’s why they call them free throws. You’re by yourself, 15 feet away, and you’ve done it a million times in practice. You get there and miss them, and some we missed badly.”
▪ Freshman star Lonnie Walker twisted his left ankle late in the first half and hobbled off the court, but Coach Larrañaga expects him to be ready to play when the Hurricanes travel to Walker’s hometown of Reading, Pa., to play a neutral-site game next Wednesday against LaSalle. The game was a promise the UM coaching staff made to Walker, who is a local celebrity in Reading. “During the recruiting process, we told Lonnie if he ends up at UM, we will bring our program to Reading and play in front of his family and friends and teammates … It will be electric from start to finish.”
▪ Freshman guard Chris Lykes is the smallest Cane on the court at 5-7, but he has big game. He came off the bench and in 21 minutes scored 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (three of them three-pointers) with four assists, a steal and only one turnover. Watch for him to provide a spark all season.
▪ Dewan Huell and DJ Vasiljevic are making a bigger impact this season. Vasiljevic was one of three Canes with 15 points on Thursday, but he is evolving into more than just a long-range shooter. He drove to the basket a few times, grabbed four rebounds and had two assists, a block and a steal. Huell has scored in double figures all three games, was 4-of-6 for 10 points with five rebounds, two steals and a block.
▪ Bruce Brown continues to prove he’s a complete player. He had 15 points on 60 percent shooting, eight rebounds (seven on defensive end), four assists and four steals. He rattled the Rattlers. “We were overwhelmed,” said FAMU coach Rober McCullum. “We can play better, but they’re a far superior team.”