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Spain tour vital to Miami’s future

Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga faces a rebuilding project for the upcoming season.
Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga faces a rebuilding project for the upcoming season.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With nine new players on the roster, the University of Miami men’s basketball team will be facing a period of adjustment the upcoming season. Getting an opportunity for a “sneak preview” then could be vital to the Hurricanes’ chances of success.

That chance will come next week when the Hurricanes play four games on a tour of Spain Aug. 12-22, taking on professional and semi-pro club teams in Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona.

“We need them to become a team, acquainted with each other,” Hurricanes coach Jim Larranega said this week of his players, “on the court, off the court, so that they can function as one.

“Our trip to Spain hopefully will accomplish that.”

The exhibition tour also gave the Hurricanes an extra 10 days of practice, and the four games will allow Larranaga to experiment with different combinations of lineups against outside competition, “people who don’t know what we’re running and we don’t know what we’re running,” he said.

Off-the-court familiarization with each other also is a factor in the Hurricanes’ potential development. Larranaga said players will switch roommates at every city along the way, a practice he followed when he took his George Mason team to Italy in 2010.

“We did it and it went very, very well,” Larranega said.

The only returnees who played for Miami in the 2013-14 season, Larranega’ fourth at Miami, are guards Manu Lecomte and Davon Reed and center Tonye Jekiri.

Guards Deandre Burnett, Sheldon McClellan, and Angel Rodriguez were on the roster but sat out last season, Burnett because of injury and McClellan (Texas) and Rodriguez (Kansas State) because of NCAA transfer rules.

Among the newcomers are freshman signees Ja’Quan Newton, James Palmer, and Omar Sherman; Joe Thomas, a graduate transfer from Niagara; and Ivan Cruz Uceda, a junior college transfer originally from Spain.

The roster also includes two walk-ons, Chris Stowell and Mike Fernandez, and Kamari Murphy, a transfer from Oklahoma State who must sit out 2014-15 because of NCAA rules.

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