It was just a Sunday afternoon preseason exhibition against a Division 3 school, so nobody should read too much into it; but Norchad Omier and his University of Miami teammates showed with a 111-54 win over The College of New Jersey that they are ready to build on their historic Final Four run last spring.
Omier wasted no time showing he is still the energetic, dominant player he was last season. The Nicaraguan power forward led all players with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes. He delighted the audience with four dunks and looked comfortable with the ball in transition and around the perimeter.
“I love everything I saw,” Omier said the team’s opening performance. “There’s still work to do, but I think we’re in a good spot. I’m excited for the first official game.”
Another standout was 6-8 Swiss freshman guard Kyshawn George, who started in place of injured junior guard Wooga Poplar, out with a groin strain, but expected back for the season opener Nov. 6 against New Jersey Institute of Technology.
George played against semi-pro and professional players in France, and that experience was evident. He did not look intimidated playing in his first college game. He looked at home on both ends of the court, scoring 12 points with four assists, three rebounds and a steal.
Asked last week how his European experience would help him transition to college, George said: “Having more experience being used to playing against men, 30-year-olds and sometimes 40-year-olds with families and kids.”
UM coach Jim Larranaga, whose team is ranked No. 13 in the AP Preseason poll, liked what he saw in George’s debut.
“Kyshawn is a very skillful young man with a very high basketball IQ,” the coach said. “He plays multiple positions. He can shoot the three. He handles the ball very well. There are areas of his game that need attention, and hopefully we’ll see improvements.”
Freshman big man Michael Nwoku of Canada also made a good early impression with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds. Newcomer Matt Cleveland, an FSU transfer, had 11 points and nine rebounds. Bensley Joseph led UM with eight assists and Nijel Pack had 13 points and seven assists.
Miami dominated from the opening whistle. UM outrebounded TCNJ 53-25 and outscored the Lions 58-12 in the paint. The Hurricanes’ defense held the Lions to 28 percent shooting overall and 25 percent from three-point range.
“We played well start to finish, shared the ball extremely well, defended really well and our bench played really, really well,” Larranaga said. “You have to remember it is a Division 3 school (Miami played against), so it’s not high major players we were going against.”
One player the coach was hoping and expecting to see across the court was his nephew Tom’s son, TCNJ guard Jason Larranaga. The Miami coach agreed to play the Lions after his nephew called and asked if a preseason game would be possible, but Jason hurt his back during warmups and was unable to play.