Talk about a small margin of error.
Miami has gone from the top of the ACC heap during a record-setting 2013 season to scraping for its life this year. Coach Jim Larranaga's team is 5-5, with losses to St. Francis of New York, Central Florida, and Virginia Tech, which was projected to finish last in the league this season.
The Hurricanes were picked 12th in the 15-team league. So far even that looks like a stretch, although a good coach can be expected to change that over time.
Miami is currently last in the ACC in shooting accuracy (.399) and scoring offense (63.5), next-to-last in scoring margin (+0.8), and 13th in 3-point percentage (.303) and rebounding margin (+2.2).
Defensively the slide is similarly pronounced compared to last season - 11th in field goal percentage defense as opposed to fourth in 2013; 11th in ratio of assists to turnovers compared to sixth last year; and 13th in both rebound margin (3rd in '13) and 3-point defense (6th in 2013). Larranaga stresses 3-point defense as a key statistic in measuring his squads' acuity.
Of course a slow start was to be expected; no team was more thoroughly decimated by graduations and early departures than the Hurricanes. Larranaga bid adieu to Shane Larkin, Durand Scott, Kenny Kadji, Trey McKinney, Reggie Johnson, and Julian Gamble. They comprised his top six scorers and rebounders in 2013, as well as all but one of his top passers and his five most effective 3-point shooters.
Over the past six seasons, only Boston College in 2012 similarly returned zero starters. Miami retained 9.3 percent of its scoring from last year, 5.1 percent of its rebounding.
Given the turnover and corresponding inexperience - five freshmen and a single player (Rion Brown) who started so much as a game last year - it's no wonder the 'Canes can't seem to achieve exit velocity when attempting to pull away to victory.
Miami already has played four overtime games, losing three, most recently 60-61 at home against the Hokies on Dec. 8. Virginia Tech, by the way, is 7-3, topping the ACC standings after one game.
The ACC already is piling up overtime contests. With nearly four months left in the 2014 season, the eight OT outings match the total from 2013.
Virginia Tech seems to have a particular affinity for extended play, leading the ACC in overtime games in four of its first nine seasons as a league member.
Note that in 2007, the one year Duke played the most overtime contests in the conference, it suffered its worst season (22-11) in an 18-year span.
Overtime Games By ACC Teams
|2013||8||4, Va. Tech||2-2|
|2011||9||3, Va. Tech||1-2|
|3, NC State||2-1|
|3, Va. Tech||3-0|
|3, Va. Tech||3-0|