Just hours before tipoff against Louisville, the Miami Hurricanes twitter announced that Graduate Transfer Forward Keith Stone is out indefinitely due to a left knee injury.
Stone had surgery on the same knee last year to repair a torn ACL.
This is a huge loss for the Canes, as the rotation continues to shorten. UM is not down to three ‘big men.’
Stone had been playing a huge role off the bench, taking the six-man position in Miami’s six-man rotation. Stone averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.7 minutes. The Grad-Transfer was extremely productive and served as an x-factor in big wins over Temple when he scored 13 points and 4 boards in 19 minutes, and against Clemson when he played a huge role in the OT Win, with 9 rebounds.
Coach Larranaga and fellow teammates appreciated the addition of Stone off the bench. “Having him sub for Sam and Rodney has made a huge difference,” said Larranaga.
Stone was able to give starting bigs Rodney Miller and Samm Waardenburg quality rest while still defending, rebounding, and scoring well. Miami went 5-1 with Stone in the lineup, as he made his debut in a big win over Illinois.
With Stone out indefinitely, this could mean he’s out for a large amount of time. This makes the Hurricanes tournament chances a lot slimmer and gives Canes fans flashbacks from the 2018-2019 season.
Last season, the NCAA ruled now Toronto Raptors Forward Dewan Hernandez ineligible for his entire junior season. Also, 6’10 Deng Gak played just eight games before suffering a season-ending left knee injury. The Hurricanes were down to just eight scholarship players, and it’s looking like a repeat of that this season.
Gak reinjured his knee and is out for the season. Now with Stone’s injury, Miami has just 3 players over 6-foot-8 and only 8 healthy scholarship players.
So What Now?
Freshman Anthony Walker will take Stone’s role as the six-man and top frontcourt player off the bench. The former four-star prospect stands at 6-foot-9 but has not produced much during the season. Averaging 2.7 points and 1.5 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game, Walker’s inexperience has held him back from the hardwood, but the Canes will need him to step up to the plate.
Miami could also bring out a four-guard lineup. Chris Lykes, Kameron McGusty, and DJ Vasiljevic bring scoring to the backcourt, with all 3 averaging over 14 points per game. Waardenburg’s role has increased as of late, leading the Canes in rebounding and also 9.2 points over the past 5 games. Miller will need to increase his production and mimic that of former Cane Ebuka Izundu, who averaged 10.9 points and 8.3 rebounds his senior season.
Down to just eight scholarship players, the Hurricanes could have a repeat of the 2018-2019 season if injuries get to the young squad.
The Miami Hurricanes (9-5, 1-3) host the Pittsburgh Panthers (11-4, 2-2) in a must-win at home. Look for UM to bring out a 4-guard lineup against a guard dependent Panther team.