Miami men’s basketball thinking positive following road conference win at Duke

Posted January 27, 2014


The Cameron Crazies couldn’t stop the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team, who defeated Duke on the road this past Tuesday and halted the Blue Devils’ 41-game winning streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Hurricanes will now be taking their momentum to South Bend, Ind., where they’ll play 12th ranked Notre Dame on Saturday.

“The win against Duke really gives me a sense of confidence in our team going into the game against Notre Dame this weekend,” Allie Pakrosnis, a sophomore at the University of Miami, said.

Thursday’s press conference, which, as Jim Larranaga, head coach for Miami, pointed out with a smile, was more heavily attended by media than past press conferences that didn’t follow a big win, held a light-hearted mood, no doubt the result of a successful start to the week.

This isn’t to say, however, that Larranaga, Lecomte and Miami guard Angel Rodriguez weren’t serious when it came time for the hard-hitting questions.

When asked what the win against Duke means for the team, Larranaga said it was important for recruiting.

“Our recruits were all tuned in. They all watched the game, they were all texting me afterwards,” Larranaga said. “There’s a ripple effect to beating a team as good as Duke.”

Rodriguez discussed how he enjoys the challenge that comes with playing games on the road.

“You shouldn’t shy away from competition and adversity,” he said, adding that the team did a good job of controlling the fans in Durham.

Although, he said, some fans did want to take a selfie with teammate and fellow guard Deandre Burnett, who declined.

Due to the differing philosophies and ways of playing between Duke and Notre Dame, namely on defense, Rodriguez expects a different game on Saturday than what they faced on Tuesday.

Lecomte believes the team is ready to take on the Fighting Irish, but said that it needs to stay focused and play just as hard as it did against Duke.

Larranaga said that while Duke was a good match-up for Lecomte and Rodriguez, this weekend will require using Davon Reed, James Palmer and Ja’Quan Newton more because their size matches up better to the size of Notre Dame’s guards.

In regards to the suspension of Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste, Larranaga says preparation for Saturday’s game will remain the same. He also addressed the worry of letting up after such a big win in Durham.

“You gotta put things quickly behind you and get to work,” Larranaga said.

Larranaga also talked about Miami center Tonye Jekiri’s visible improvement on the court.

“He went from averaging two points a game as a freshman, to four points a game as a sophomore, to now eight points a game as a junior,” he said.

He said that while this growth was expected, he would’ve liked it to have come sooner. Larranaga also discussed Jekiri’s increase in playing time. While he acknowledged that he should’ve taken him out more than he did in the last game, he did mention how much Jekiri has improved in terms of conditioning.

Larranaga also made two announcements during the press conference. University of Miami football players Corn Elder and D’Mauri Jones will not be joining the basketball team, instead choosing to focus on academics and football. Additionally, forward Ivan Cruz Uceda will make his debut for the Hurricanes this weekend at Notre Dame.