Hurricanes Ranked in Early Preseason Polls
April 10, 2008
CORAL GABLES, FLA. – Coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history capped by an NCAA Tournament second-round appearance, the <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>University of Miami men’s basketball team is ranked among the nation’s top-20 programs in a trio of early preseason polls.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
The Hurricanes are ranked No. 12 by ESPN, No. 13 by Fox Sports and No. 20 by CBS Sports.
Led by head coach Frank Haith, who has signed a new five-year contract with Miami, the Hurricanes return four starters – including All-ACC First Team selection Jack McClinton – from a squad that defied expectations, putting together a 23-11 record, finishing among the ACC’s top five and earning their third postseason invitation in four years with an NCAA Tournament berth.
“We had a tremendous year,” said Haith, who just wrapped up his fourth season at the helm. “But we’re not satisfied. We want to continue to build on this success and bring this program to even greater heights.
“These polls are a nice recognition of how far we’ve come, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. Our focus is where we end up as opposed to what people are speculating before we begin the season.”
Despite losing five seniors from the 2007-08 team, Miami will return its top-five scorers, including McClinton – who averaged a team-high 17.7 points per game for the season and 18.8 points per game in ACC play, and James Dews – who averaged 10.3 points per game and started 33 straight for the Hurricanes. The two guards proved lethal from anywhere on the court, converting better than 90 percent from the line and leading Miami from beyond the arc with a combined 152 three-pointers on the season.
The team will also welcome a pair of newcomers in 6-6 DeQuan Jones and 6-9 Reginald Johnson, while two current Hurricanes – Julian Gamble, a 6-9 freshman from Durham, N.C., and Cyrus McGowan, a 6-9 transfer who spent two seasons playing for Arkansas – are expected to see their first action on the court in 2008-09.