Miami making its mark on the court

Kentucky star Nerlens Noel was lost for the season Tuesday when he suffered a torn knee ligament. The freshman faces tough decisions on his future.
Kentucky star Nerlens Noel was lost for the season Tuesday when he suffered a torn knee ligament. The freshman faces tough decisions on his future. (AL MESSERSCHMIDT / Getty Images)
Posted: February 16, 2013

It's a new world for the Miami Hurricanes, now enjoying basketball success the same way they received national attention for their great football teams back in the day. The third-ranked 'Canes are the Atlantic Coast Conference's only unbeaten team in conference play, having swept North Carolina, drilled Duke by 27, and won at North Carolina State on a buzzer-beater.

"We want to be humble and hungry," Miami coach Jim Larranaga told ESPN this week. "Fame is very fleeting and we want to make sure we do things that have helped us become successful so far, and that's hard work and preparation."

More basketball!

Did you ever see a coach have more fun on the bench than Notre Dame's Mike Brey during the Fighting Irish's epic five-overtime victory Saturday night over Louisville? Brey smiled, laughed, and encouraged his players throughout his team's 104-101 victory. "To be in that moment was really enjoyable," Brey said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. "I thought we needed to just be really loose, have fun with it, smile about it. I think it kept our guys loose, and it probably kept them from understanding how really fatigued they were, because they were really exhausted."

Numbers in the mirror

The statistics in the Notre Dame-Louisville game were remarkably similar. Notre Dame had a slight edge in field-goal percentage (41.6 to 40.7), three-point baskets (7-5), and free throws made (33-30), while the Cardinals won the rebounding battle (51-50) and dished out three more assists (23-20). And how about the performance of Fighting Irish senior center Garrick Sherman, who had 17 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes of overtime after not having moved off the bench during regulation time?

A cruel blow

It's no less sickening to see Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, no matter how many times ESPN shows the replay. Now the question is how Noel's surgery and rehabilitation will affect decisions about his future. Will he return to the Wildcats or take his talents to the NBA, in which he had been projected as the overall No. 1 draft pick before his injury? Coach John Calipari said Noel's rehab would take six to eight months, but the NBA's early entry deadline for the draft is April 28, just 21/2 months from now. Will Noel choose the NBA and hope general managers aren't scared off by his injury? Stay tuned.

Zipping along

Akron - yes, Akron - extended its best-in-the-nation winning streak to 16 on Wednesday night with a 70-62 victory at Eastern Michigan. It also marked the eighth consecutive year that the Zips reached 20 victories, putting them in the company of teams such as Kansas, Syracuse, and Florida. The Zips don't have any big-time scorers, but they play efficient offense and lockdown team defense. "The thing I like is that it's somebody different every night," Akron coach Keith Dambrot said in the Akron Beacon-Journal. "That's the mark of a good team."

Like a Jackrabbit

Nate Wolters has spent a couple of seasons being called the best player you've never heard of. But the accomplishments of the 6-foot-4 senior from South Dakota State last week made it tough for him to continue as an unknown. Wolters set school records on Feb. 7 with 53 points and nine three-point baskets against Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, and followed that with a 36-point performance two days later against Oakland. That's not bad for a guy who in high school would have been happy playing Division II basketball. Now he's finding NBA scouts intrigued by what he could do at the next level.

Ex-pat of the Week

Isaiah Armwood spent two seasons at Villanova, where he played 61 games but averaged just 2.4 points and 2.9 rebounds. However, in his first season after transferring to George Washington, he has helped turn the Colonials into a contender in the crowded rush to first place. In 22 games, the junior from Baltimore is second in the Atlantic Ten in rebounds (8.6 per game) and blocked shots (2.6) while shooting 52.0 percent from the field and averaging 12.3 points. His seven double-doubles are tied for third in the conference.

Contact Joe Juliano at Follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.

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