As other basketball coaches lash out, Canes hoops get the last laugh. And football notes
A six-pack of Miami Hurricanes notes and thoughts on a Wednesday:
▪ It can’t be easy for these Atlantic Coast Conference universities in the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic to observe what we’re witnessing – a supposed ‘football school’ rising to the top of the league and emerging from the first weekend of the tournament as the only ACC men’s team to qualify for the Sweet 16.
It certainly can’t be easy for some coaches who seem resentful - perhaps a tad jealous - when they watch UM flourishing in this new era of college sports, when players can benefit from their Name, Image and Likeness.
Ohio coach Jeff Boals became the latest to take a shot at UM. After the Canes’ 63-56 win against Drake on Friday, Boals tweeted about Miami: “800,000 dollars will get you a second game and 8-25 FG’s.”
The tweet - unbecoming and borderline unprofessional for a college head coach – wasn’t even accurate. Nijel Pack, who has a two-year, $800,000 deal to promote John Ruiz’s LifeWallet, played well, shooting 8 for 15.
Isaiah Wong, who has an undisclosed deal with LifeWallet, shot 1 for 10 before rebounding with 27 points in Sunday’s win against Indiana.
Boals’ swipe at the Canes, which he eventually deleted, came a month after now-retired Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told ESPN’s Pete Thamel that “Miami bought a team. … It’s like, ‘Really, this is where we are?’ That’s really where we are, and it’s only going to get worse.”
Jim Larranaga has taken the high road on this; he has no interest in engaging in verbal volleys with other coaches. So have his players. “I’m not focused on that,” Norchad Omier said Wednesday when asked about shots from other coaches.
Let’s remind Boals and Boeheim of a couple of realities in advance of UM’s Sweet 16 game against Houston on Friday (7:15 p.m., CBS):
▪ Even before Ruiz struck deals with multiple UM basketball players last offseason, Larranaga had led the Canes to three Sweet 16 appearances since 2013, just one fewer than Syracuse during that time.
▪ The Canes aren’t violating any rules, but instead using them to their advantage. They’re fortunate that Ruiz has eagerly become the ultimate Canes benefactor and the face of this NIL era. But the Canes initially landed Wong and several others without NIL deals, and Omier likely would have committed to UM anyway.
“Playing for Miami Prep, getting recruited in high school, I always wanted to play for Miami,” Omier said at the time of committing last offseason. “Making this dream become true, it’s just like, I can’t explain. It just feels really good and I’m happy being in this city.”
Whether Pack would have transferred to UM (instead of finalists Purdue or Ohio State) without the NIL deal will never be known, though he has said he chose the Canes because of its track record with transfer point guards.
Shane Larkin, Angel Rodriguez and Charlie Moore - all transfers - led the Hurricanes on deep NCAA Tournament runs.
“All the point guards who had transferred here did well, and I knew I could learn a lot from Coach L and the other coaches here,” he said.
Wong’s NIL rep (since replaced) said in April that Wong might transfer because he was unhappy with his NIL deal; Ruiz said at the time that he wouldn’t re-negotiate Wong’s deal but would help find Wong other NIL opportunities.
Wong, days later, said: “The recent statements made without any authorization on my behalf do not reflect my views and in no way was I willing to jeopardize my relationship with LifeWallet or the University of Miami. After discussing the matter with my family, I was able to clarify my intentions and resolve any misunderstandings with both organizations and have since agreed to move forward with established agreements made prior to the confusion.”
Botton line: There’s a real chance UM would have had this same roster without NIL money. Regardless, it’s irrelevant because the Canes are merely using the new rules to their advantage.
What does Ruiz think of these types of comments from Boeheim and Ohio’s Boals?
“I don’t think it’s their place to discuss NIL really,” he said in a text message. “I find NIL to be off the court while coaches should be focusing on the court. There is also a bigger picture here. Kids are learning, making money and helping themselves and their own family.”
Ruiz said the “big picture is LifeWallet is tied to the athletes it promotes, which provides branding to LifeWallet. NIL has nothing to do with performance. It has to do with marketing. However, UM did win both games and is now in the Sweet 16, which provides more interaction for LifeWallet athletes, as the athletes are talked about.”
You know how indignant and bewildered Canes fans felt after watching the Duke football beat Miami for the third time in five years last October?
That’s kind of like what the Tar Heels and Blue Devils and Cavaliers and everyone in the heart of ACC country must be feeling when they witness the Canes soar to the top of the conference and extend their season longer than any of them.
Does it surprise UM to have outlasted the conference’s bluebloods this March?
“The success we’re enjoying now is what we envisioned when we came,” Larranaga said Wednesday before the team flew to Kansas City. “We want to build a program that could develop tradition. We’re one of the top 50 schools in the country. We want to be one of the top basketball programs in the country, like our football program and baseball program have done.
“Right now, we’re experiencing some of the success we envisioned. But the real challenge for any coach is consistency.”
But at least the coaches at the tradition-rich Carolina schools and Virginia aren’t publicly trashing the Canes for winning, and winning big, within the rules. Next time Boals and Boeheim want to whine about that, here’s some advice: Keep it to yourself.
▪ Besides telling several broadcasters that Jordan Miller is the “most underrated player in the nation,” Larranaga said Wednesday that “I’m not sure I’ve ever coached a player that impacts the game in so many ways, offensively, defensively. [At 6-7], he guarded [Indiana 6-9 All American] Trayce Jackson Davis for most of the second half and he scored at the rim. It’s really hard to score against that kind of size. [Miller] is a sensational player.”
▪ Though some on social media have compared 6-7 Norchad Omier to 6-7 Dennis Rodman because of their talents as undersized rebounders, Omier said he never watched Rodman. Omier was a baseball player growing up.
▪ UM continues to look for a receiver in the portal and remains in play for Southern Cal transfer Gary Bryant, who visited UM earlier this season. Per 247 Sports, Oregon and Texas A&M are among others in contention.
And 247’s Gaby Urrutia mentioned former Louisville and Alabama wide receiver Tyler Harrell as a grad transfer possibility for Miami.
If UM doesn’t land veteran help, don’t be surprised if Robby Washington or Nathaniel Joseph crack the rotation as freshmen. Both enrolled early.
“They’re freaks of nature, super fast,” receiver Xavier Restrepo said. “Those guys have potential to be really, really good.”
Restrepo, Jacolby George and Colbie Young have been the first-team receivers early in camp. Brashard Smith, Washington and Isaiah Horton worked with the second group this week.
Frank Ladson and Michael Redding have been limited by injuries this spring.
▪ UM is hosting several top 2024 recruits this weekend, including five-star Arizona based standout Elijah Rushing (the nation’s No. 1 edge defender prospect) and Bradenton IMG Academy five-star prospect David Stone (rated by 247 as the No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 7 prospect overall).
In fact, Stone told 247’s Steve Wiltfong that he’s visiting UM the next two weekends. “Miami has always been a special program and I feel like what the ‘23 class they brought in, they look like they can do something special here soon,” Stone said.
Among others visiting this weekend: Three-star Arizona based quarterback Luke Moga.
▪ Quick stuff: Restrepo called freshman quarterback Emory Williams “a gunslinger. He has a real arm on him. He’s awesome.”...
Ex-Canes file: Former UM linebacker Denzel Perryman signed with the Houston Texans on Wednesday; the Dolphins had inquired about him before focusing on signing former Titans linebacker David Long. Meanwhile, Calais Campbell - released by Baltimore- visited the Atlanta Falcons.
Here’s what new Dolphins and former Canes receiver Braxton Berrios said in his introductory Dolphins news conference on Wednesday, including his favorite moment as a Hurricane.