Miami will have to navigate its first few months in the always difficult Atlantic Coast Conference without two of its scholarship players.
The Hurricanes announced this week that Spanish-native Ivan Cruz Uceda will sit at least the first half of the season due a little-used NCAA bylaw. Because the junior college transfer did not immediately go from high school to college within a year of graduation, the rule requires him to sit at least 50 percent of his first Division I basketball season.
Sophomore Davon Reed will also be out until atleast January with a knee injury that is still rehabbing. That will leave the Hurricanes with only nine scholarship players when the season begins Nov. 14, including seven who did not play for the school last year.
"We feel very bad for Ivan," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said in a statement.
"Sitting out half of the season is very tough on him and us."
Losing Cruz Uceda
The 6-foot-10 power forward was recruited from Harcum College, a small junior college in Bryn Mawr, Penn. He had been recruited by Florida Atlantic as well, but signed with Miami on Nov. 13 with the hopes to take the court this season.
The newcomer from Madrid was cleared to practice but wouldn't be available for play until the Jan. 13 game against Duke.
While there isn't much public data on Cruz Uceda, his size at least will be greatly missed. He was the second-tallest player on the roster, with only center Tonye Jekin (7-foot-10) eclipsing him. That length was expected to add shot-blocking ability and rim presence on the defensive end as Cruz Uceda developed an offensive repertoire.
"He is an excellent rebounder and skilled big man," Larranaga said. "We will miss him greatly during the first half of the year."
Reed played a lot for the Hurricanes as a freshman last season, averaging 20.7 minutes mostly off the bench. He posted strong, if not otherworldly, numbers from the position. In limited action he scored 6.6 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
At 6-foot-6 and 208-pounds, Reed could be seen as a lanky shooting guard or an athletic small forward. He shot 34 percent from the field with respectable 35 percent three-point shooting.
The team mostly loses depth with Reed still resting. He had surgery on his knee Sept.4 after being injured in an off-season workout earlier that week. The sophomore had made 10 starts for Miami and it will be interesting to see who replaces his production as the team hopes to improve on its 17-16 (7-11 ACC) record from a year ago.