Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Larkin Says Miami Could Finish Unbeaten in ACC Despite Distractions
On the same night Miami received a notice of allegations from the NCAA, the Hurricanes fended off a pesky Virginia team, 54-50, to remain unbeaten in the ACC at 13-0.
And the way Shane Larkin sees it, there’s no reason the Hurricanes can’t remain undefeated through the remaining five games of the ACC schedule.
“It’s possible,” Larkin, who finished with 11 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds in the win, told SNY.tv by phone.
“Anybody in our league could’ve been in our same position if they got a few different breaks. We have so many talented teams in the ACC, and every single night out it’s a battle. And every single night we’re gonna go out and play as hard as we can with energy and intensity. And if we do that every single night with the talent that we have and the experience and the coaching and the game plans we come up with, it’s possible that we go undefeated the rest of the way.”
The 1998-99 Duke team is the only one in ACC history to go undefeated through the league, but that was when they played 16 conference games.
Miami would have to win 18 to match — and improve upon — that mark.
Miami’s next two games are certainly winnable — at Wake Forest (11-14, 4-9) and home to Virginia Tech (11-14, 2-10).
But after that comes a trip to No. 6 Duke (22-3, 9-3) March 2. Miami and Duke — along with Indiana and Gonzaga — are currently projected as No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi.
The ‘Canes close out the season with home games against Georgia Tech (14-11, 4-9) and Clemson (13-12, 5-8).
“The ACC is a great league and every single night, you’re playing against a great team, regardless if they’re on the top of the league or on the bottom of the league with their record,” Larkin said. “So we just gotta stay focused and try to handle business every single night.”
Staying focused could be increasingly difficult as the NCAA situation heats. up. Miami has 90 days to present its response to the allegations.
“We’re able to stay focused because we have no say-so in what happened,” Larkin said. “And we can’t focus on that because at the end of the day, they’re going to make their decision regardless if we look into it or not. We can just control what we can control, which is going out there and practicing hard and preparing hard and staying focused and playing every single game to win and hopefully get the top seed in the ACC Tournament.
“And from there on up go on and get a good see in the NCAA Tournament. So we only can control and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Meantime, Larkin says the Hurricanes have drawn some inspiration from having LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and James Jones attending the recent game with North Carolina.
“They were late, they made a fashionably late entrance,” Larkin said. “When they walked in, everybody was screaming.
He added: “That’s a great feeling knowing that the guys who are the top level, you can’t get any higher than the NBA, and those dudes are taking time out of their day to come watch us play. It’s a great feeling.
“We all watch the NBA. That’s all of our dreams. We want to play at the next level. We watch them every single night, and LeBron I would say is the best player in the league right now. And the Heat are up there, too, so it’s good to have the best player in the game at your games.”
And if Larkin and the ‘Canes can keep on winning to remain perfect, LeBron may come out again.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.