CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Jim Larranaga looked at the first box score of Miami’s season, scanning the Hurricanes’ defensive numbers.
They allowed St. Francis Brooklyn to shoot only 37 percent from the field, 29 percent from 3-point range, and forced 17 turnovers Friday night. Going back to January 2000, the last 19 times a Miami team put together a game with defensive statistics like those, it not only left the court with a victory but did so by an average of 25 points.
Not this time.
The reigning Atlantic Coast Conference champions are starting anew.
Miami’s offense was offensive on opening night. After just one game, it’s already clear that finding scoring will be a problem for a program that’s coming off ACC regular-season and tournament titles. Miami fell to St. Francis Brooklyn — a program that hasn’t finished over .500 since 2003-04 — 66-62 in overtime, a game in which the Hurricanes shot only 31 percent and went 0 for 15 from 3-point range.
“We should win a game like that defensively,” said Larranaga, the reigning national coach of the year entering his third season on the Miami sideline. “But not when we’re shooting 31 percent from the field and zero percent from the 3-point line.”
Larranaga said coming into Friday that he and his staff felt comfortable thinking Miami’s defense could be very good. There’s obviously not the same comfort level with the offense. And the telltale signs seem to have been there for a while — in Miami’s first intrasquad scrimmage this fall, the team played for 10 minutes in practice.
The score was 4-2.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Larranaga said.
Donnavan Kirk shot 6 for 8 for the Hurricanes on Friday. The rest of the team was 13 for 53. Miami used nine players; only Kirk shot better than 30 percent.
The top six players from last season’s team are gone. Shane Larkin packed up for the NBA, and the other five were seniors or graduate students who no longer have eligibility. And another huge blow came just before the start of this season, when Deandre Burnett — widely expected to be not only the team’s top freshman but quite possibly its best offensive player — hurt his wrist so severely that Miami already knows he’ll be redshirted.
Combined, all the players on the Miami roster have scored 1,724 points in their college careers.
That’s 512 fewer than the nation’s leading active scorer, Creighton’s Doug McDermott.
“We have fewer weapons than we’ve ever had,” Larranaga said. “Last year, six guys could score in double figures on a given night. Now we don’t have anybody that averaged over 6 points a game in their college career. So we’re going to have a hard time manufacturing points.”
Growing pains for this Miami team — which became the second straight reigning ACC champion to lose its first game the following season, after Florida State last year — were expected.
Point guard Manu Lecomte was playing his first college game Friday. Garrius Adams played his first game in nearly 20 months. Only one returnee scored more than 47 points for the Hurricanes for all of last season.
Larranaga is convinced that once these new-look Hurricanes relax a bit, more shots will fall.
“It’s a new year,” Larranaga said. “Last year was great, but it’s behind us. This is about this team trying to be the best that it can be.”
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