By Josh Baumgard (@MiaSportsGuy)
The accolades continue to mount for the once under-the-radar Hurricanes who haven’t lost since December.
Ranked 8th nationally and rising, they boast a point guard who is finally receiving the national recognition he deserves. Shane Larkin has been named one of 12 finalists for this year’s Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Is ACC Player of the Year within reach as well? Check out the latest NCAA Basketball ATS odds.
Just a sophomore, Larkin is the engine of what could feasibly become the top team in Miami Hurricanes history. Providing steady production from all depths of the court, he averages 12.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.
Offensively, Larkin operates with impeccable efficiency. His 47 percent shooting overall and 42 percent rate from beyond the arc are optimal. Despite averaging 36 minutes (2nd in ACC), he turns it over just twice a game. The numbers continue on the defensive end where he leads the conference in steals (2.3).
Miami is having tremendous success primarily because of their defense. When shots aren’t falling, a common occurrence at some point in this sport, their defense keeps them afloat. It’s their identity.
They hound the opposition for 40 minutes, regardless of time and score. Larkin is the leader on that end as well with his relentless hands, but this is obviously a team effort. A defense is only as good as it’s weakest link. Like holiday lights, if one goes out, the entire system falters.
A rival coach says Larkin is the key to Miami’s success.
“He plays like a coach on the floor,” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton told the AP. “He’ll defer, but you can’t back off of him, and he’s confident enough that when he needs to make things happen, he’s capable of it.”
Larkin’s line against Florida State? Just eight points, on 2-for-9 shooting. But he came up big on the glass (9 rebounds), created for others as usual (6 assists), while helping limit the Seminole offense to 31 percent shooting.
The Florida State game defines Larkin as a player. Take away his shot, and he keeps coming. He doesn’t need to score to be effective.
At 5’11″ he sure isn’t the tallest. He’s also rarely the best athlete on the court. But not many players in the ACC, or the country, offer the wide array of skills and basketball smarts of Shane Larkin.
Many agree Larkin is a fine player. Yet many will deem his statistics too inferior to win a national award like the Cousy Award or ACC Player of the Year. But to assess this young man by mere statistics would be in an insult to his game, and the art of basketball.
Like LeBron James, he lets the game come to him. When that moment comes and a weakness is spotted, he becomes a starved pitbull unleashed on a ribeye.
The most chilling part of it all: The pitbull is just a puppy.
Vote for the Bob Cousy Award HERE