Five burning questions

The University of Miami men’s basketball team will make their much-anticipated 2008-2009 debut Saturday at the BankUnited Center against Florida Southern. With the start of the regular season right around the corner, here are five burning questions that should ultimately determine this team’s fate:

5) Who is going to step up and be the number two shooter on this team?

We all know senior and First-Team All-ACC member Jack McClinton is the go-to guy, but which sharp shooters will be the two of the one-two punch from the perimeter?

Junior James Dews, senior Lance Hurdle and senior Brian Asbury are all candidates.

Dews’ signature shot is the three-pointer from the corner. He was second on the team in points per game last year.

Hurdle handled the ball very well last year and was a great mentor for the point guard of the future, Eddie Rios. Hurdle needs to work on driving the ball to the basket.

Asbury is due for a breakout year. He averaged 8.8 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game. He will likely be the first off the bench this year.

4)  How will this team handle all the hype?

Many sports outlets have afforded the basketball team more attention than the football team. Last year Miami was predicted to finish last in the ACC. This year, they are predicted to finish fourth behind perennial powerhouses North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest. In every major preseason poll they are ranked in the top 25.

3) How will this team handle a much tougher schedule?

There are not many cupcake games for the Hurricanes this season. They could potentially play UConn and Wisconsin in the Paradise Jam Tournament. The Canes play Ohio State at home in the Big Ten/ACC challenge and travel to the prestigious Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky. UM rounds out their nonconference schedule by traveling to the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, where they will battle St. Johns.

Additionally, Miami will once again have its hands full in conference play. The ACC is arguably the toughest conference in college basketball. Miami plays UNC twice and Duke once.

2) Which Dwayne Collins will show up?

Dwayne Collins was consistently inconsistent last year. He showed flashes of brilliance, such as when he emphatically dunked on Kyle Singler and in being an integral part of Miami’s biggest win last season – registering 26 points and 14 rebounds in a thrilling 96-95 win over Duke. There were also games when Collins’ name was barely on the stat sheet. He only had four double-doubles on the season and is going to need to step up, because losing center Anthony King creates a big void in the paint. King led the Hurricanes in rebounds and shot blocks, and “DC” is going to have to pick up the slack.

1) How far can Jack McClinton carry this team?

We all know that McClinton is the heart and soul of this team. Nicknamed “McClutchin,” for his ability to score when his team needs him the most, he has the capability to make a shot from anywhere on the basketball court. He was second in the ACC in three point field goal percentage and shot a league high 91.9 percent from the free throw line last year. He scored a career-high 38 points in the first round win in the NCAA tournament against St. Mary’s. He decided to come back for his senior season and has only one goal in mind: to win a national championship.