By Russell Hanson
(Feature picture Erick Espada/Getty Images)
Coral Gables, FL – There was bad news early tonight as the Hurricanes announced that Dewan Hernandez (formerly Huell) would be withheld from competition as the University and the NCAA review his eligibility, but the Canes seemed unaffected as they took down the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 83 – 62 in their season opener.
Jim Larrañaga’s squad won tonight through tough defense and strong 3pt shooting. The Canes defense held Lehigh to 34% from the field in the first half including a 6 and a half minute scoreless stretch that saw the lead swell to as many as 18. The Canes, however ended the first half by shooting 1-11 after some key guys got into foul trouble. This slow stretch continued into the second half as Lehigh’s Lance Tejada (19pts) heated up to pull Lehigh within 6. After playing only 6 minutes in the first half, DJ Vasiljevic provided a spark for the Hurricanes scoring 13 of his 16 points in the second half. “I thought we got off to a great start we really shared the ball, shot the ball well…but then we got in some foul trouble.” Said Larranaga after the game, ”…I thought Lehigh did a great job of putting pressure on us they cut the lead to 6, we took a timeout and then I thought our defense picked up our offense picked up.” When asked about the team shooting a large number of three pointers in the game (31) Coach L laughed, “Yea. Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics.” The Miami coach went on to talk about how typically he feels that 31 is too many three point shots but the large amount of possessions and the up and down flow of the game was conducive of a game where that was okay.
The Canes continued to play great defense racking up 9 blocks and 6 steals while forcing the Mountain Hawks into 18 turnovers. Lehigh’s Brett Reed commented on Miami’s defense as well saying that the Hurricanes “length and athleticism” make them a great team defensively and how being able to switch pretty much all positions forces you to get creative on the offensive end of the court.
Chris Lykes was the star of the night leading all scorers with 22 points to go with his 5 rebounds and 4 assists. The 5’7” sophomore also sent the Watsco Center into a frenzy in the first half when a nasty cross-over sent his defender to the floor. When asked about Lykes scoring 22, Larranaga responded with, “He’s going to be a high octane scorer. He’s got to score for us.” All five Hurricane starters scored in double digits: Lykes (22), Lawrence (19), Vasiljevic (16), Waardenburg (21), and Izundu (10). Anthony Lawrence also achieved a double-double by adding 12 rebounds. Izundu, Gak, and Lawrence all had 3 blocks as well.
Overall, this was a strong win for the Hurricanes as Lehigh was the pre season pick to win their conference. The Hurricanes next two opponents, Stephen F Austin and Bethune-Cookman, are picked to win their respective conferences as well.
Miami’s next game will again be at the Watsco Center on Tuesday, November 13th. The opponent will be Stephen F Austin (2-0) and tip off is at 7pm.