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Miami Basketball: Three takeaways from home loss to Louisville

Miami dropped its second ACC game, falling to Louisville 80-71. It was one of the most underwhelming performances from the Hurricanes this season. Here are three thoughts.


Miami can't stop teams from scoring

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Louisville Cardinals forward Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (5) shoots the basketball over Miami Hurricanes forward Norchad Omier (15) during the first half at Watsco Center.

In three conference games in the 2024 calendar year, Miami has given up 80 or more points and is 1-2 in those contests. Although the game against Wake Forest did go into an extra period, the ability to get stops is an issue for this version of the Miami Hurricanes.

In the last three games, opponents are shooting 45 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from the three-point range. Against Louisville, Miami could not stop two players: Mike James, who started the game scoring 16 of the Cardinals, and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, both inside and outside of the paint. The two Cardinals had 26 and 22 points apiece on 17-26 shooting combined.

Huntley-Hatfield, like many bigs in the ACC, has the height advantage over Norchad Omier (6'10" to 6'7"). Although Omier is a tremendous player and undoubtedly one of the most valuable for the Miami Hurricanes, being the sole big defender may be too much. Perhaps more minutes from a taller AJ Casey (6'9") or a Michael Nwoko (6'10") could relieve Omier of bearing the brunt of the paint defense. Casey played ten minutes, and Nwoko played zero minutes against Louisville.

On the perimeter, Miami continues to give up big shots because of ball movement from the opponent. In the last three games, Miami lost the assist battle in its two losses (31-26) and won the assist margin in the win against Clemson (19-15). Rotating to the basketball is undoubtedly an area that needs improvement.

Inconsistent guard play

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami guard Nijel Pack (24) passes past Louisville guard El Ellis (3) and forward Sydney Curry (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, in Coral Gables, Fla.

Nijel Pack did seem to tweak his ankle again against Louisville, but inconsistent play from the guards is hurting the team's success overall.

Pack shot an astounding 61 percent from the field against Clemson in a win but shot 35.3 percent against Wake Forest and 16.2 percent against Louisville, including 22.2 percent from three against the Cardinals. Pack finished with six points playing the fifth-most minutes (32) against Louisville. The inconsistent play hurts the Canes because it's resulting in too many empty possessions.

Miami currently leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (41 percent), but surely head coach Jim Larranaga would like to see more high-percentage shots than attempts from beyond the arc.

Wooga Poplar returned and looked fully healthy after missing the last two games with an ankle injury, pouring in 18 points on 6-15 from the field, but turnovers are an issue for Miami's second-leading scorer. He led the team with four giveaways against Louisville and leads this team with 2.6 per game this season. In plus/minus, he was a team-worst -16 against the Cardinals. Poplar needs to take care of the basketball more consistently because the team cannot afford not to have the basketball in his hands.

Bensley Joseph has been a disappointment from a production standpoint since the new year, shooting 29.4 percent from the floor. Against Louisville, seven of his eleven shots were from three-point range, connecting on only two shots. He finished with eight points, and if Joseph is going to tie for the most minutes in a game, he needs to be more efficient with his shot selection.

Kyshawn George has been a bright spot in the absence of Poplar and Pack in the last two contests, but against Louisville, we did not see that fearless mentality. He did see a natural reduction in minutes (18) against the Cardinals, but he seemed to look to pass more than shoot. He finished 3-6 from the field, with three assists and three rebounds. He needs to play more minutes based on the play we've seen in 2024 and be more aggressive in scoring the basketball.

Omier needs to develop as a passer

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Hurricanes forward Norchad Omier (15) controls the basketball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half at Watsco Center.

Opponents are starting to focus on Omier, which was very apparent against Louisville. The Cardinals stifled Miami's leading scorer (17.5 per game) with double-teams forcing the big man to pass out of the paint or force him into tough shots.

He finished with nine points on 3-5 five shooting and was not in foul trouble for the game. The next step in the evolution of his game is to find the open man. His teammates also need to help him with movement. He finished with zero assists on the night.

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