Instagram message fuels speculation about Miami’s Shane Larkin leaving for NBA

Shane-Larkin-MiamiVery few people expected the Miami Hurricanes to have as much success as they did this season, and Shane Larkin’s jump to the next level was one of the main reasons the team took the nation by surprise. After averaging 7.4 points and 2.5 assists per game last year, Larkin doubled his production in his sophomore season to 14.5 points and 4.6 assists. He shot over 40% from three-point range and emerged as one of the top guards in the country.

Now, speculation is growing that Larkin could be heading to the NBA next season. On Friday afternoon, a message he posted on his Instagram account lent credence to that theory.

“Regardless of what figure decisions I make this has honesty been the best year of my life,” Larkin wrote, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Thank you to my teammate, coaches and most importantly the fans for the support. I will forever be grateful for every moment shared with you all. This season was magical and something I will remember for the rest of my life. Im blessed to be a Miami Hurricane and represent the U! Thank you!!!!”

Miami won the ACC Championship this season, which was a big change for those of us who have grown used to seeing Duke and North Carolina dominate in both the regular season and the tournament. Their basketball program is certainly on the rise, but the loss of Larkin would give the Hurricanes a significant hole to fill heading into next fall.

Larkin’s uncle told FOX Sports Florida’s Chris Tomasson that his nephew would submit his name for the NBA Draft. Larkin’s father, Hall of Fame baseball player Barry Larkin, told The Palm Beach Post that his son will explore all his options, though no decision has been made yet about his future.

Reggie Johnson to miss Miami’s next game with knee injury

Reggie Johnson MiamiReggie Johnson is not traveling with Miami to Washington DC for the team’s Sweet 16 game against Marquette because of a knee injury, according to The Miami Herald.

The Herald’s Manny Navarro reported Tuesday that Johnson was not on the team bus as it embarked on its journey to DC. Two Hurricanes players told Navarro that Johnson’s knee injury is the reason the center stayed home.

“We’re all just going to have to step up,” forward Julian Gamble told the Herald. “Hopefully we get him back for the Final Four.”

Johnson, a senior center, played 18 minutes in the team’s NCAA tournament win over Illinois Sunday. He had five rebounds and did not score.

Johnson has only played more than 20 minutes once in the team’s past 12 games, but the near-300 pounder has still been a presence inside grabbing rebounds.

Since he did not make the trip, Johnson likely will not be available for the regional final should Miami defeat Marquette. The ‘Canes would face the winner of the Syracuse-Indiana game.

UPDATE: The Herald’s Michelle Kaufman says Johnson had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. If that’s the case, he’s probably done for the season.

Did Illinois get robbed by referees at end of loss to Miami?

Kenny Kadji IllinoisReferees may have hurt Illinois with a bad call in the final minute of their 63-59 loss to Miami in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament Sunday.

Illinois was down 57-55 with 45 seconds left when senior guard D.J. Richardson attempted a 3-pointer from the wing. Richardson’s shot was short and his ball appeared to be knocked out of bounds by Miami’s Kenny Kadji, who had jumped to try grabbing the ball. The referee along the baseline awarded the ball to Miami, which caused Illinois coach John Groce to lose his mind.

Replays appeared to show Kadji knocked the ball out of bounds, though there is a slight chance the ball went off Illinois guard Brandon Paul’s fingertips. Most people felt the ball went off on Kadji, including one of his teammates.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami big man Julian Gamble thought replays showed the ball went off Kadji.

The call completely changed the game. Miami’s Durand Scott was fouled and made both his free throws. Instead of Illinois being down two and taking the ball out beneath the basket, they were suddenly down four with 36 seconds left.

After the game, Groce wouldn’t let Paul respond when the guard was asked by reporters about the play. Groce did give his thoughts when asked about it.

“You saw the same video that I did,” Groce said. “I thought the officiating Friday and [Sunday] was tremendous. These guys did a good job, they did. It’s a hard game to officiate. 50-50 calls are hard sometimes. That’s how he saw the play in live speed. I certainly respect that, respect him, and respect the call that he made.”

Announcer Tim Brando was also incensed by the call. He pointed out that officials could not review the play on instant replay, and he recommended the NCAA make a change to the rule for the future. We hope they follow his advice.

Jim Larranaga credits Chris Bosh speech for helping to turn around program

Chris BoshMost people view Chris Bosh as a funny, awkward, and sensitive guy. Though he is an excellent player, he is considered the weakest of the Miami Heat’s top three players. And he’s certainly not viewed as the type to fire up his team with an emotional speech, right? Wrong.

Miami Hurricanes basketball coach Jim Larranaga has been crediting Bosh for giving his team the “best five-minute speech” he has ever heard as one of the reasons for the program’s turnaround.

Miami has been known as a football (and baseball) school the past three decades. The basketball team is generally average and has only made the NCAA Tournament once since 2003. But that has all changed this season; the team has gone 22-3 and is ranked No. 2 in the country.

Over the past two weeks, Larranaga has been telling the story of Bosh’s inspirational speech delivered to the team during the summer of 2011:

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Duke players found Miami’s floor slap disrespectful

miami duke floor slap

Miami handed Duke one of its worst losses in the last 30 years, taunted them in the process, and now the Blue Devils say they feel disrespected.

While up 72-44 in the second half of last week’s 90-63 win over the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils, several Hurricanes players slapped the floor at the same time. The gesture was Miami’s way of mocking Duke, which has been doing the floor slap on defense for years.

You can see video of the floor slap below:

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