With Bruce Brown out, it’s been an up-and-down month of February for Miami. In that stretch of time, the Hurricanes are 4-3 — including Monday’s win over Notre Dame. Miami and coach Jim Larranaga did a nice job shaking some things up for the matchup with the Irish, which the good folks over at State Of The U detailed nicely.
The absence of Brown predictably put more responsibilities on the plate of freshman stud Lonnie Walker. There’s been some good — 16.3 points per game in wins over Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest; as a result, Walker claimed ACC Rookie of the Week honors. And there’s been some less good stuff, too; in 51 minutes against Virginia and Boston College, Walker combined for 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting (0-of-9 3PA).
Walker isn’t the only Hurricane that’s found spotty offense without Brown — the team’s top-flight playmaker. Sophomore big man Dewan Huell is a frequent recipient of Brown’s passing acumen as well, especially out of the pick-and-roll.
Two peas in a pick-and-roll pod
It’s been much tougher sledding for Dewan Huell without Brown. Over the last seven games, Huell has averaged just 5.7 points on 39.5 percent shooting.
After the win at NC State this season, when Miami blitzed the Pack with countless pick-and-roll looks, Huell was shooting 70 percent on rim runs this season, and scoring 1.38 points per possession out of the pick-and-roll.
However, in the last four weeks, that efficiency number has dipped slightly: 1.27 points per possession, according to Synergy. That’s obviously not a steep decline, but it’s notable.
Bruce Brown is important to this Miami team in a variety of ways — some of which aren’t even tangible (leadership, postseason experience). This is different, though: ball-screen proficiency is something we can see and measure. With Brown as a passer out of the pick-and-roll this season, Miami scored 1.26 points per possession — good for 11th in the nation, No. 1 in the ACC (minimum of 75 possessions) — on 60 percent shooting, according to Synergy Sports.
That’s one of the best plays in the confines of the ACC this season, and it’s currently unavailable to Miami.
Back for Brooklyn?
Brown will likely miss the rest of the regular season; Miami has three games left on the docket — Boston College, UNC and Virginia Tech — before the ACC Tournament up in Brooklyn. BracketMatrix.com projects the Hurricanes as an 10 seed, so this team still has some work to do. KenPom favors Miami in two of those games, too.
If Miami can continue to hold the fort down until Brown returns — assuming that’s in the cards, there’s a possible NBA career to consider as well — then the Hurricanes, led by Huell and Walker, have the ability to do something special come March.