Miami lost in the second round of the AdvoCare Invitational to a fast-paced, offensively gifted Iowa State squad. A few things we’re wondering about the Hurricanes (4-1):
1. What team will we see on Sunday?
Miami won’t be playing for the tournament championship, but will have its best chance at a meaningful non-conference win against either No. 11 Gonzaga or in-state rival Florida, both of whom appear to be NCAA tournament-quality teams. The Hurricanes reminded everyone of their youth and inexperience Friday, seeming to lose focus on defense — a strong suit coming in — and committing a season-high 19 turnovers. Can UM bounce back against another quality team?
2. Can Miami run a half-court offense?
Ja’Quan Newton can score. He excels getting into the lane for contested layups, floaters, and taking the occasional jumper. But the junior, in his first year as Miami’s full-time point guard, has had more than three assists once this season (seven against North Florida) and has had more than three in 10 of his 70 career games. Worse, he has had as many or more turnovers than assists in three of Miami’s first five games. It seems he is still learning to facilitate and find open shots for others. Miami entered Friday ranked 198th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.98), and that number is going down; it had just six assists to 19 turnovers against the Cyclones. Those woes are more glaring when Miami is shooting as poorly as it did Friday (36 percent from the field, 2-of-16 from three) and usually dependable senior Davon Reed (2-of-9, 1-of-7 from deep) is cold.
3. How lacking is this team in inside presence and depth?
None of Miami’s three primary big men — junior Ebuka Izundu, who sprained his ankle last week, freshman Dewan Huell or senior Kamari Murphy — has scored more than six points in a game in this tournament against more physically comparable players, after each produced a double-digit game against weaker opponents. Izundu and Huell were exploited at times on defense, and Murphy isn’t at his best against larger opponents; none of those three weigh more than 230 pounds. Then there’s the question of depth. Miami has a rotation of eight after dismissing Rashad Muhammad and given freshman Rodney Miller’s need to improve his conditioning (he hasn’t played this tournament). How will the Hurricanes look Sunday after playing three games in four days? Will it be a preview of struggles they may face in March?