ACC Basketball

ACC Tourney: Miami vs. Notre Dame

SBT Photo/GREG SWIERCZ

Every season around tournament time, everyone is looking for the next Kemba Walker, a guard who almost single-handily leads his team to both his conference title and then a NCAA championship. If I had to vote for one guy this season to pull a “Walker” its Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.

He’s his team’s best scorer capable of hitting a three or driving into the paint with his broad shoulders.

Yet, Grant leads the ACC in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, having no problem driving and dishing to a bevy of three-point shooters like Pat Connaughton (43% from deep), Steve Vasturia (40%) and Demetrius Jackson (42%) sit situated at the three-point line.

Yet, what gets lost on this team is how efficient they are inside the arc. Thanks to the best pick-and-roll I’ve seen all season, the Irish are first in the nation at 2P%. Zach Auguste has the experience inside, but Bonzie Colston has come on strong lately. The freshman is undersized inside, but is not afraid to get dirty in the paint and finds a variety of ways to get the ball through the hoop.

The problem of course is if those shots aren’t falling. The Irish are small and struggle to rebound, 271st in offensive rebounding. Defensively they are not as bad as people think. They do a good job staying in front of their opponents and don’t give up easy shots. The issue is that they struggle to do the little things. They don’t force turnovers, they don’t block shots and they don’t rebound defensive rebounds either.

After a late season dip, Miami has shot themselves out of their slump and continue to get scoring from any number of players, especially when Angel Rodriguez went out with a wrist injury (he’s back, playing 10 minutes Wednesday night).

This is a team that loves to shoot the three ball, but unlike the Irish who can score inside as well, the Hurricanes live and die from their outside shooting.

Sheldon McClellan is Miami’s most consistent threat, simply because he can put the ball on the floor, forcing oppenents to back down a bit.

Yet, it seems like everyone outside of Tonye Jekiri will launch a three, including their bigs, Ivan Cruz Uceda, Omar Sherman and James Palmer.

Inside, Jekiri is an opportunistic scorer, but he’s mostly a glass cleaner, leading the league in rebounds. Yet oddly enough, as a team, Miami is ranked just 261st in offensive rebounds.

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