Into the eye of the Hurricanes

********The basics********
Game time: 7p.m.
Location: Coral Gables, Fla. Bank United Center (8000)
Game Notes:
1. Miami Game Notes Charlotte @ Miami GAME NOTES (Miami)
2. Charlotte Game Notes Charlotte @ Miami GAME NOTES (Charlotte)
Fox Sports South | ESPN 3
Rich Waltz and Dan Bonner will be on the call.
Per the Miami Game Notes: "Affiliates for the game include: FOX Sports Carolinas, FOX Sports South, SUN Sports, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus, New England Sports Network, FOX Sports Arizona Plus, FOX Sports San Diego, FS Prime Ticket, ESPN3, FOX Sports Tennessee."
Charlotte Radio: ESPN 730AM Matt Swierad will have the play-by-play call for the 49ers.
Miami Radio: 560 WQAM Joe Zagacki will handle the play-by-play while Josh Darrow will handle the analyst duties.
National Radio: Compass Media Networks, Sirius 93 & XM 199
Drew Bontadelli, Rick Mahorn and Jon Rothstein will have the call for Compass Media Networks.
All-time series: Charlotte leads 4-3
The last time: Without their best player in Malcolm Grant, the Hurricanes rode their depth inside to a 76-61 victory over the size depleted 49ers squad. The loss snapped a five game winning streak for the 49ers and was the start of a three game losing streak. Kenny Kadji paced the Hurricanes with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Braswell was the only 49ers player to score in double figures with 12 points. He only shot 3 of 15 from the field, with two of those makes being 3-pointers.
Miami @ Charlotte 2011 BOX SCORE
Charlotte 49ers (9-0)
********Projected Starters********
Pierria Henry: G #15, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds
Season Averages: 30.2 mins, 7.7 pts, 4.1 ast, 4.9 rebs, 2.6 steals, 39.6 FG%, 7.7 3FG%, 66.7 FT%
Last game: Henry was ejected after 21 minutes against Central Michigan after using foul language toward the referee during the middle of a scrum. Luckily for the 49ers, he wasn't ejected for fighting, which would've had him suspended for tonight's battle. Before he exited to the locker room, Henry scored 4 points and added 4 assists and 2 rebounds in 21 minutes.
Terrence Williams: G #14 , 6-foot-4, 211 pounds
Season Averages: 26.9 mins, 9.7 pts, 3.4 rebs, 36.6 FG%, 5.9 3FG%, 81.3 FT%
Last game: Williams didn't hit any of his three shots from the field but was able to convert all six shots at the free throw line. He also added 5 assists in 18 minutes. He has struggled with his shot over the last two games, shooting a combined 3-15 from the field, 0-3 from behind the arc.
Denzel Ingram: G #10, 5-foot-11, 173 pounds
Season Averages: 24.1 mins, 7.2 pts, 2.1 ast, 42.1 FG%, 41.4 3FG%, 71.4 FT%
Last game: Ingram had a solid game as he was the 49ers second leading scorer with 13 points and he tied the team lead with 5 assists. Ingram has started to emerge as a consistent outside shooter for the 49ers. In his last two games, he has shot 50 percent from 3-point range. He loves to get out in space and pick his spots during the fast break. Ingram has played 30 minutes or more in the last two games.
Darion Clark: F #1, 6-foot-6, 233 pounds
Season Averages: 19.8 mins, 7.1 pts, 5.8 rebs, 66.7 FG%, 44.4 FT%
Last game: Clark played a season low 12 minutes against Central Michigan. He scored 6 points and added 2 rebounds. Perhaps Major was trying to rest Clark up for the battle that will ensue tonight. Unless he is in foul trouble, Clark will play over 20 minutes against Miami.
Willie Clayton: F #21, 6-foot-8, 233 pounds
Season Averages: 20.0 mins, 8.2 pts, 6.6 rebs, 68.3 FG %, 50 FT%
Last game: Clayton had a productive 21 minutes as he scored 10 points on 5-6 shooting and pulled down 9 rebounds. He could've had a double-double if he had hit one of his three free throw attempts. Clayton has averaged 12 points and 9.3 rebounds in his last 3 games.
Key Reserves
Chris Braswell: F #35 , 6-foot-9, 227 pounds
Season Averages: 23.5 mins, 14.3 pts, 7 rebs, 49.4 FG%, 36.4 3FG%, 73.7 FT%
Last game: Braswell scored 8 points and led the team with 12 rebounds. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive end. He shot 4-11 from the field for the game and missed all three of his shots from beyond the arc in 25 minutes of action.
DeMario Mayfield: G #11 , 6-foot-6, 202 pounds
Season Averages: 23.7 mins, 10 pts, 2.6 rebs, 2.1 ast, 43.1 FG%, 23.8 3FG%, 72.4 FT%
Last game: Mayfield rebounded from a sub-par game against Davidson as he led the 49ers with 15 points while collecting 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. He scored 10 of his points in the second half and was a key contributor once Henry went out of the game. He shot 4-7 from the field in the second half, hitting two of his four 3-pointers.
J.T. Thompson: F #30, 6-foot-6, 234 pounds
Season Averages: 15.8 mins, 4.9 pts, 3 rebs, 40.5 FG%, 16.7 3FG%, 100 FT%
Last game: Thompson logged season highs in minutes (22) and points (8) against Central Michigan. He scored 6 of his 8 points in the first half as he was utilized in a lineup to help the 49ers overcome a sluggish offensive start.
Ivan Benkovic: G #44 , 6-foot-6, 200 pounds
Season Averages: 10.3 mins, 3.3 pts, 50 FG%, 53.8 3FG%
Last game: Benkovic played 12 minutes and hit his lone 3-point attempt in the second half. Major showed early confidence in Benkovic in the first half as he played 8 minutes and was used in a lineup with Thompson, Braswell, Nickerson and Mayfield to help the 49ers overcome a sluggish offensive start.
E. Victor Nickerson: G #5, 6-foot-7, 193 pounds
Season Averages: 16.7 mins, 4.5 pts, 2 rebs, 30.4 FG%, 37.5 3FG%, 62.5 FT%
Last game: Nickerson scored 5 points and added 3 assists and 2 steals in the 49ers victory over Central Michigan. He played 15 minutes, which was his most playing time since returning from injury.
Head Coach: Alan Major
Career Record: 32-37, 9-0 this season
Last game quote to note: "This was a good team win. I was pleased that we had 23 assists on 30 baskets as well as we scored 42 points in the paint. It was good to see DeMario Mayfield make some shots tonight. Denzel Ingram had a good game as well."
Miami Hurricanes
********Projected Starters********
Shane Larkin: G #00, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds SOPHOMORE
Season Averages: 35.8 mins, 16.3 pts, 3.7 ast, 3.3 rebs, 56.5 FG%, 52 3FG%, 83.3 FT%
Last game: Larkin scored 14 points and pulled in 6 rebounds in the Hurricanes victory over Massachusetts.
Durand Scott: G #01, 6-foot-5, 203 pounds SENIOR
Season Averages: 36.7 mins, 15 pts, 6 rebs, 56.3 FG%, 75 FT%
Last game: Scott was second on the team with 15 points and he added 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the Hurricanes victory over the Minutemen.
Trey McKinney Jones: G #04, 6-foot-5, 220 pounds SENIOR
Season Averages: 34.3 mins, 12 pts, 3.3 rebs, 48.9 FG%, 46.2 3FG%, 88.9 FT%
Last game: Jones tallied 8 points and 3 rebounds in 35 minutes of action.
Kenny Kadji: F #35, 6-foot-11, 242 pounds, SENIOR
Season Averages: 31.2 mins, 10.5 pts, 7.2 rebs, 42.3 FG%, 26.1 3FG%, 76.5 FT%
Last game: Kadji scored 13 points and pulled in 5 rebounds in 32 minutes.
Reggie Johnson: F #42, 6-foot-10, 292 pounds, SENIOR
Season Averages: 29.2 mins, 12.8 pts, 10.8 rebs, 2.4 blks, 40 FG%, 71.8 FT%
Last game: Hurricane Reggie blasted the Minutemen with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks. He led all players in those three categories. He also converted 7-8 from the free throw line.
Key Reserve
Rion Brown: G #15, 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, JUNIOR
Season Averages: 26.8 mins, 6.0 pts, 31.4 FG%, 19.0 3FG%, 66.7 FT%
Last game: The Hurricanes sixth man scored 6 points in 24 minutes of action against the Minutemen.
Head Coach: Jim Larranaga
Career Record: 495-348, 5-1 this season
Last game quote to note: "I thought our defense was very solid throughout the game. They are a very athletic team and they are very capable of making a lot of threes. I thought our three point shooting defense was very solid today. We played very well down the stretch by making some free throws, taking it to the basket and it was just a great team effort."
********Last time out for both squads********
Charlotte: The 49ers are coming off of a 78-66 home victory over Central Michigan. It was a game that saw the 49ers struggle offensively out of the gates. After holding a 31-27 advantage at the break, the 49ers shot 62.1 percent from the field in the 2nd half, including 50 percent from beyond the arc to run away from the Chippewas. As noted earlier, Henry was ejected for foul language midway through the half.
Miami Hurricanes: The Hurricanes are coming off of a game that seemingly took place weeks ago, which it did back on Dec. 1. The Hurricanes traveled to Amherst, Mass. to take on the UMASS Minutemen where they came away with a 75-62 victory. The Hurricanes held the Minutemen to 21.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
********The pregame chat with Alan Major********
NinerReport: How has Pierria's demeanor been after the ejection?
Alan Major: I think he's like the rest of us, had it involved a suspension then that probably would have affected him a little bit more. But once he found out it was just for an inappropriate comment made to the ref, it was only inappropriate after the fact, he didn't do it at the ref himself, he did it at whoever was grabbing him and it just happened to be a ref. It was just one of those things in the heat of battle. He's fine. He's [been] back in the gym this week and bouncing around like normal Pierria Henry.
NinerReport: Going back to last year's game their front line really dominated the game. You've got some help this year with Clark and Clayton. How have you prepped the guys for what they're going to encounter physically on Friday?
AM: Just giving them an idea of personnel. With a few of the guys being new, Willie and Darion in particular, just getting them to understand one of their guys is kind of skilled in terms of Kadji and another guy is just a big horse in terms of Johnson. Those guys will probably come in and watch some extra film once they get past their exams. They'll come in and try to really watch the idiosyncrasies of each guy in terms of what he likes to do and how each guy likes to score.
NinerReport: In your preparations for the Hurricanes, what is different about this Hurricanes team as opposed to the one you took on last year?
AM: They have a fewer guys playing on the perimeter. Last year they had Jones [and Grant.] With Durand Scott kind of sliding over and playing the two, he's moving more into a consistent position. They're actually more balanced. Their starting five averages double figures. When you have a starting five that averages double figures you've got a team that it's hard to shut down like that because they have tremendous balance. I think that's the big difference between looking at them now versus last year is their rotation is a little smaller but in a sense it's helped them a little bit. I think their starting five is really good.
NinerReport: Going back to the Central Michigan game, Ingram played extremely well. He seems to know how to space himself on the fast break. Can you talk about how he's been able to capitalize on his chances on the break?
AM: He just has a good feel for how to play and knowing how to play. He's been well coached through AAU ball and through high school. He's a coachable kid. You start to do your homework on Denzel and a lot of things about him are just solid. [His] family background is solid, AAU background is solid, high school, coaching and situations - all solid. Your kind of getting a byproduct of the type of kid he is and how he's been groomed. I think he's done a nice job of just sitting in where we need him. Sometimes he's got the ball, at times he's playing off the ball if he's in there with Pierria. I think he's done a nice job and the fact that he's been able to shoot the ball well to this point I think has helped his confidence.
NinerReport: Chris Braswell didn't have one of his better outings in this game last season. How will you try to get him going and what will be done differently this time?
AM: The big thing this year for him is knowing he's not going to have to be out there for 35 minutes. I think sometimes instinctively without trying to do it, sometimes players may pace themselves when you know you have to be out there for 35 minutes in a game. It's very difficult to maintain an intensity level, as I've watched him this year he's had more energy because he hasn't had to worry about that extra 10 minutes of being out there. He's been around 25-27 minutes. I think the fact that there's more bodies, more guys around to help out on that front line I think that will help take the pressure off him a little bit.
NinerReport: The Hurricanes are entering this game on a 2 week layoff. With the rust factor, is this something you could feel you could take advantage of early in the game?
AM: The hardest thing is that every team is so different. There's teams that come out after stretches like that with boundless energy. Other teams come out that stretch and maybe they're a little bit rusty and maybe it takes them awhile to get going after that type of stretch. I've coached teams where you think it's going to be one way, it ends up being the other way and vice versa. Will they be energetic or rusty? I don't know. I think a lot of it is what they've done with their practice time and how they've structured practice in that period.
**Going into the eye of the Hurricanes with play-by-play man Joe Zagacki**
NinerReport: How do you think the Hurricanes will come out of the layoff?
Joe Zagacki: I think first of all that they could be rusty because they've been off. They spent a lot of those two weeks not practicing at all because Jim Larranaga believes in getting them properly prepared academically for finals week. He wanted them to study and take advantage of that time and I think he purposely did not schedule a game during the finals and before finals so that there would be plenty of time to get all of their work completed. They started their preparation for Charlotte Tuesday. I think it's going to be interesting, the first couple of minutes of the game, they're going to be rusty and off their game or really fresh and very excited to play and get off to a quick start. I'm not sure there's going an in between. I think as the game gets going it will balance out and Miami will play the way they have the last couple of weeks.
NinerReport: Can you talk about how Durand Scott's return as seemingly solidified the Hurricanes lineup
JZ: Durand is the heart and soul of the team. It's fun to watch Durand. He wants to win so bad. He always gives great effort. It's one thing for the coach to hold everybody accountable but there's nothing like peer pressure. There's nothing like having that guy on the floor and that's Durand. He leads by example. I don't think I've ever seen him play a game where he's flat. His intensity is pretty high and his tenacity is something that I think is not matched. He's a pivotal player and a glue player.
NinerReport: One player who has elevated their game is Shane Larkin. What have you seen differently out of him from year one to year two?
JZ: His confidence in shooting the ball and handling the ball. His confidence beating the defender off the ball and getting a shot off. Jack McClinton used to have a great jab step to get separation, I'm not saying Shane Larkin has the same move, but he does a great job of getting separation from his man so far this year, clearing that space and he's been able to knock down a high percentage of his 3-point shots. He's got great speed, very confident. Sometimes I wonder if he plays with the right urgency, but in their wins this year - Michigan State and UMass - he's played a pivotal role.
Can you talk about the play of Reggie Johnson this season? He's averaging a double double, what's changed?
JZ: I think what's changed with Reggie is knowing that the end of the line is coming. This is it. If he wants to continue playing basketball in his career then he's gotta show something this year. He's gotta be a dominating force. He is a very very big man. He is very difficult to handle when all aspects of his game come together - when he plays with a great amount of intensity and to his size - when he's able to combine all of those things, he's a dangerous player. Against UMass he did that, against Michigan State he did that, I thought he was very sluggish in Miami's loss against Florida Gulf Coast. We've seen it in spurts, but this year we need to see it every night.
The Hurricanes dominated this game this year. What do you think they key matchup will be going into this game?
JZ: I think Miami's gotta be on alert for a couple of their 3-point shooters. I think Miami has to do a good job in getting out and contesting the 3-point shot. I think their defense is better this year than it was a year ago. I think there's room for improvement for Miami to be better in terms of contesting shots but Charlotte is playing defense like a top 50 squad and Miami has to protect the ball. That falls to Durand Scott and Shane Larkin. They've got to do a good job of handling the ball, sharing the ball and cutting down their turnovers against Charlotte's aggressive defense.
Would you expect the Hurricanes to play a lot of zone since the 49ers have struggled some from the perimeter?
JZ: No. I think Miami will try to continue to play their man defense. I think they'll use their zone to switch it up but Jim Larranaga and his staff have a conviction about being an aggressive man to man defensive team. That's who they want to be and I think they will continue to try and perfect that rather than being a game plan oriented squad. I think they want to perfect what they want to do, while they may throw it in as a curve ball I think they'll put Durand on Charlotte's best shooter and go from there.
**********Going into the eye of the Hurricanes with assistant coach Eric Konkol**********
NinerReport: Can you discuss how you have prepared during the layoff and if you're worried about rust to start the game?
Eric Konkol: We're coaches, so we worry constantly. It's part of what we do. First and foremost the most important thing [was] to take care of the final exams. These guys are students and final exams come with stress and pressure. First you want to take care of business with that. Secondly, with that layoff we gave the guys a few days off initially. They did come in and get some weightlifting in, some conditioning and some shots. Then we just tried to ramp back up doing some full practices, scrimmaging and create [a] game atmosphere to prepare for Charlotte.
NinerReport: Can you talk about the return of Durand Scott? It seems to have solidified your rotation.
EK: He's a leader, number one. He's a senior, he's been through it. He's just one of those guys that elevates the level of everybody on the floor. He's very difficult to take out of games. I think most of all, without him we were down to four guards in our rotation. He scores, he defends and provides a lot of energy.
NinerReport: Can you discuss the things Shane Larkin has done to improve as a player?
EK: First of all, he's much stronger. His body is really developing. He's worked very hard in the weight room and become a lot more physical. That's helped a lot. Malcolm Grant has graduated and is gone. Shane has looked at it as 'hey, it's me and Durand in the backcourt and I'm needed to score and I'm capable and I'm going to do my best to do what the team needs and that score and distribute.'
NinerReport: You guys had the hiccup at Florida Gulf Coast but have won four straight since. What's stood out about your team in this recent stretch?
EK: I think we've just played better. Obviously Durand came back, that helped. We've defended better, we've made people miss some more shots. Offensively, we haven't turned it over. We've gotten more shots and we've played in a better rhythm where guys are sharing it better and we're getting better shots. The season is a marathon and you hope to improve as the season goes on and we've improved over the last couple of weeks.
NinerReport: This is a game you dominated last year. When you look at them on tape this year, what has stood out to you about Charlotte?
EK: They're very impressive on tape. They're very well coached and very disciplined defensively with what they're trying to do. They're physical, tough, they rebound and they're all over the ball. They're very tough to score against. They're making people miss a lot of shots and offensively they do a good job of taking care of it. They're getting to the foul line. Rebounding is a big, big key for them. We got to be ready to fight. We got to be ready to really have a battle because they're going to bring it.
NinerReport: Could this be a game that hinges on the battle in the post?
EK: I think there's going to be a major battle in the interior. Braswell has been good his entire career, seems like he's been there 10 years. He's always been productive. Clayton, Clark and all those guys inside are doing a really nice job. They've got a really nice team and certainly there's going to be a big battle on the backboards. I think there's going to be a real defensive battle on the perimeter. It's going to be a great game.
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