Running the floor before Miami’s third game of the year, 7 p.m. Thursday against Florida A&M (ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN):
Dewan Huell looks good
The former five-star big man had tons of athleticism, but not a great deal of skill, when he signed with UM. Jim Larranaga expected the sophomore to be one of the ACC’s top players this year, averaging a double-double.
We’re a long way from ACC play, but Huell looks confident offensively, putting up 14 points and 8 rebounds, then 14 and 10, in his first two games. The latter line, which came in Sunday’s 89-55 win over Navy, was his first career double-double.
“He has certain major strengths, and he’s always had those: Height, speed, quickness, jumping ability, ability to run the floor, block a shot, dunk the ball,” Larranaga said. “Now he’s got a bread-and-butter move he’s been working on really hard, and it’s proving to be effective.”
It’s a big leap in production for Huell, who averaged 5.8 and 3.1 last year in 17.4 minutes. He is only playing 2.6 minutes more this year.
Another bright spot: Center Ebuka Izundu, who averaged 4.2 and 3.0 last year in 13 minutes, has 13 and 7 through his first two games. He is playing 20.5 minutes a night. Miami has played him and Huell together, and the two have found each other for high-low passes.
Lykes what he sees
Freshman Chris Lykes, listed at 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, can get a little out of control, but his flashy passing, three-point shooting and general fearlessness has been fun to watch.
“I love him,” Larranaga said. “Incredible athlete. Great shooter. But he’s a freshman, and he has some things he can really get good at, but he’s got to kind of learn how. … He’s got to understand his height is really an advantage. Those guys don’t have the ability to get by you if you’re working really hard.”
Larranaga has seen several push-offs and knock-downs go uncalled. “I think he’s going to find great success eventually. He could be someone who’s like Muggsy Bogues. Tyler Ulis is a good comparison.”
Brown not down
Miami’s best player, sophomore guard Bruce Brown, limped off against Navy. Larranaga said he sprained his (left) ankle but practice this week. It seems he will play Thursday.
Brown is averaging a team-high 31.9 minutes and began the year with a triple-double against Gardner Webb (10 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists). His shooting fell off against Navy (1-for-10), and he finished with three points, six boards and six assists. He has yet to make a 3-pointer this year (0-for-5).
Not back yet
Redshirt freshman Sam Waardenburg looked like a mobile, savvy stretch four in Miami’s exhibition against Newberry, but the 6-10, 217-pound New Zealander missed the first two games of the year with a back injury. Larranaga called him “better … We have to be very cautious. We do not want this to be a lingering injury.” Larranaga said Waardenburg reported back soreness in practice before the opener; a trainer checked him out and said, “he’s super tight.” He is unlikely to play against Florida A&M.
FAMU on deck
Miami, which is ranked 13th in this week’s Associated Press poll, shouldn’t sweat much in this one. Florida A&M (0-2), which has traveled to Phoenix (Grand Canyon) and Las Vegas (UNLV) and lost, is 336th of 351 Division I teams in KenPom’s ratings. Miami (2-0) is 16th.
Miami’s first stiff challenge of the season comes Wednesday, Nov. 29 at Minnesota, as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Minnesota (3-0) is 14th in the AP poll and 28th in KenPom.