Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Miami Hurricanes basketball team needs fully healthy McClinton to advance in ACC tournament, earn bid to NCAA Tournament

ATLANTA — Miami star Jack McClinton moved smoothly on the Georgia Dome court Wednesday morning, but then trading a cumbersome knee brace for a sleeve will help your mobility.

"It feels a lot better," he said of the left knee sprain that hampered him the last three regular-season games. "It's not 100 percent, but it's definitely a lot better."

Make no mistake: Miami desperately needs him at his unencumbered best today.

The No. 9-seeded Hurricanes (18-11, 7-9) open the ACC tournament at noon against eighth seed Virginia Tech (17-13, 7-9) in a game that will keep the winner in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid and will likely seal a spot in the NIT for the loser.

"We have to get it," McClinton said.

"We've been able to win two out of three with Jack not being himself, but we don't need Jack not being himself," Miami coach Frank Haith said of McClinton, who hadn't even practiced until Tuesday. "We need Jack being himself."

McClinton, a senior guard and a first-team All-ACC pick for the second straight season, is averaging 19.7 points — third in the conference behind North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Florida State's Toney Douglas — and is hitting a league-best 46.4 percent from 3-point range.

But he has averaged 16 points and hit just 6 of 18 3-pointers (33.3 percent) in the games since he injured his knee. That in part explains the Hurricanes' disappointing loss at Georgia Tech on March 4 and why, like last year, they're in a must-win game to open the ACC tournament.

Miami beat North Carolina State last year to improve to 22-9 and lock up an NCAA at-large. The 'Canes lost in the ACC quarterfinals to Virginia Tech, which had to win if it hoped for an NCAA bid. (Despite that win and a last-second loss to North Carolina, the Hokies were left out.)

"Both teams are playing to stay alive. When you're in that situation, I think you'll see tremendous intensity, tremendous energy and, hopefully, good basketball," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said.

For his team, Job 1 is slowing McClinton. Tech did that in the teams' lone meeting this season, Jan. 25 at Miami. McClinton scored 20 but was 6-of-21 shooting (4-of-12 from 3-point range) in an 88-83 overtime loss.

"He's just such a special player," Greenberg said of McClinton. "He might be the best clutch shooter in the league this past year."

Aside from his own shots, he makes it a bit easier for his teammates to get good shots and, perhaps more important, fuels their confidence.

"When he's emotional, when he's hitting shots and getting into it, the whole team plays at a new level," Miami senior forward Jimmy Graham said.

"Brian Asbury and James Dews and Lance Hurdle, all those guys are playing better," added Haith of the supporting cast. "Now we've got to get Jack back to his form. … If that'll happen this tournament, we can make some noise."

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347.

Miami Hurricanes basketball team needs fully healthy McClinton to advance in ACC tournament, earn bid to NCAA Tournament 03/11/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Thursday's Rays-Yankees game

    The Heater

    The 10 strikeouts look flashy, but RHP Chris Archer was not his sharpest Thursday. He allowed three runs on seven hits, including three straight in the two-run second and a Gary Sanchez homer in the third, and lasted only six innings, throwing 102 pitches.

  2. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  3. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda
  4. Bucs' direction is decidedly up for first time in several years

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If you want to see a team give the Heisman Trophy stiff-arm to expectations, check out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Tight end O.J. Howard, left, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, was brought in to give QB Jameis Winston another big-play option.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Friday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.