NCAAB: Miami, learning how to play ‘small ball,’ faces St. Francis Brooklyn


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Miami will try to rebound both figuratively and literally when it hosts St. Francis Brooklyn on Wednesday night in Coral Gables, Fla.

Their work on the boards — or lack of it — was a major factor for the Hurricanes (4-1) in their 88-70 loss to Maryland in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off championship game over the weekend.

The Terps outrebounded Miami 39-20, with 11 rebounds on the offensive end.

“They had 18 second-chance points, and what did we lose by — 18,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

For the season, the Hurricanes hold a slight rebounding advantage over their foes with an average of 33.6 per game to 31.8. But that is thanks mostly to big games in their wins over Lafayette and Providence, when they held a combined 84-63 rebounding advantage.

Size is a major issue. A pair of 6-foot-7 forwards — Norchad Omier (10.2 average) and Jordan Miller (7.0) — lead the Hurricanes in rebounding.

“We’re not a very big team,” Larranaga said, “so if we’re not really connected and doing a great job rebounding as a team, we’re going to get hurt.”

Isaiah Wong, a 6-foot-4 guard who leads the Hurricanes in scoring (15.2 ppg), is the team’s third-leading rebounder with an average of 4 per game.

“We have to learn how to play as a small-ball team,” Larranaga said. “And we’re learning.”

St. Francis (2-2) is coming off a 61-58 victory Saturday over Saint Peter’s, which made a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight in last season’s NCAA Tournament.

The Terriers have rebounding issues of their own, down by an average of nearly three a game for the season. They were outrebounded 44-34 despite the win over Saint Peter’s.

Josiah Harris has averaged a double-double for the season (10 ppg, 10.3 rpg) for St. Francis, and Zion Bethea (11.5 ppg) is the team’s top scorer.

Rob Higgins, a first-team All-Northeast Conference preseason honoree, has been limited by an upper-body injury. He is averaging a team-high 3.8 assists per game but only 5.8 points.

Miami will be the school’s second straight opponent that reached the Elite Eight last March.

“Our team has been working to continue building off a big win over fellow Elite Eight team Saint Peter’s this past weekend,” St. Francis coach Glenn Braica said.

–Field Level Media


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