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Next Up - Miami

At 9-8, Miami is struggling, but in some ways, Frank Haith may be doing his
best work as a head coach. He lost Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite from
last year's team; this year, he lost Anthony King for the season to a wrist
injury, and Adrian Thomas is out for the year as well with an abdominal injury.
And Jimmy Graham broke his hand and will be out for a while as well. Miami
soldiers on: the 'Canes have a 9-8 record and are at 2-1 in the ACC with wins
over Maryland and Georgia Tech. Only a one-point loss to Wake Forest is keeping
them from a tie for first in the conference.

Miami discovered a somewhat unlikely star in Jack McClinton. The
Siena transfer has surprised everyone with his offensive prowess, although his
production has slowed as the competition has gotten better.

Miami is expecting to start McClinton, along with Anthony Harris, Dwayne
Collins, Keaton Copeland, and Brian Asbury.

Harris is a known commodity and a respected ACC player who has certainly had
his moments. He's probably more the key for Miami than McClinton.

Asbury is a kid who Haith has great hopes for, but he has been on him since
his freshman year about being more assertive. He's a talented player, but
has at times been timid.

It's a small lineup, basically a three guard lineup with two relatively small
forwards, although Asbury has some talent and could be a versatile threat.
Freshman Dwayne Collins is 6 -8, but he had a great game against Maryland, with
14 points and 12 boards. And it's worth noting that Anthony Harris has
been hot lately, averaging 20 ppg over his last three outings.

They shoot more from the bonusphere than most, understandable given their
size and injury problems.

Statistically, in some areas (outside of scoring stats), the two teams
are fairly close: Miami shoots .450; Duke .465. Miami's FG defense
is .450; Duke's is .465. Three point percentage? .361 to .388. Duke
does a better job defending the three, at .265 to .358. Miami makes 6 .5
per game to Duke's 5.6.

Field goal percentage is also very close, with Miami having a slight edge at
.690 to .685. Assists are almost dead even at 13.6 (M) to 13.8 (D).
Turnovers are a significant difference, with Duke coughing it up 16.2 times a
game to Miami's 13.6 .

And while Miami hits 72.2 ppg to Duke's 68.4, Duke is holding teams to 55.7
while Miami surrenders 67.4 ppg.

So stats, for what they're worth, are close.

But stats, while useful, don't explain a lot of things. You can make
assumptions about how a team communicates from turnovers, for instance, but you
would have no idea why communication is an issue. But for Duke, with such
a young team, it clearly is.

This was most clearly demonstrated in the last two games when Greg Paulus and
Josh McRoberts weren't on the same page in the closing minutes of both
games. But it's also demonstrated by the overall turnovers and the
problems Duke has had at times with spacing.

Pretty clearly, Duke has some issues to work on. But they have some
reasons for optimism, too, although you wouldn't necessarily know it from
talking to fans. Duke's defense, first of all, has been pretty solid all
year, although it allowed Georgia Tech back in the game when they seemed ready
to throttle them.

But despite the struggles with turnovers and communication, there have been a
few stretches this year where Duke played very pretty basketball. The
Gonzaga game saw Greg Paulus as his inspirational best, somewhere between Wojo
and Bobby Hurley. In other games, the team has understood spacing and then
passed the ball gorgeously.

It hasn't been regular enough, but it's been enough to see the
potential. What this team needs now, aside from better
communication, is what Coach K describes with a 12 letter word we won't
repeat here. But you can probably puzzle it out yourself.

Greg Paulus did it in New York: he grabbed the team by the collar and
demanded that it play up to his level of passion. He hasn't been near that
level since, but of all the guys on the team, he's the one who has most
potential to take that sort of role.

The team can continue to hang in games with a high level of defense, but
eventually, they have to start scoring effectively. Paulus has been in a
slump, and he's had injuries and illness to overcome, but when he plays to his
potential, he changes this team.

If he can do that in Miami, Duke will have a much better chance of
winning.