CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The buzz was building throughout Friday at the University of Miami. ESPN was readying the set for its first 'College GameDay' broadcast from the campus as a prelude to the most important Hurricanes football game in more than a decade.
The Hurricanes men's basketball team tapped into the vibe to get the high-octane weekend started with a season-opening 77-45 romp against Gardner-Webb at the Watsco Center, though the crowd was lacking. Already lining up for a choice spot for at Saturday morning's 'GameDay?'
The November focus is understandably on football, but Jim Larranaga's crew gave a first glimpse of intriguing possibilities for the winter. Their ranking, at No. 13, is the highest UM has ever occupied in the preseason poll.
Talented but very young, Larranaga took the wraps off what may be the best recruiting class UM has ever had.
Much of the high regard with this young but talented team is tied to Lonnie Walker IV, the five-star freshman from Reading, Pa., who expected to be a one-and-done lottery pick in the next NBA draft.
Walker appeared poised and fluid while scoring 10 in his debut.
Speculation already has Walker and returning sophomore Bruce Brown as the top two shooting guards in the draft.
Let the record show that Walker's first basket for UM came on an alley-oop feed from Brown. A couple of minutes later, Walker nonchalantly drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Miami its first lead with 11:38 remaining in the half.
Later, the 6-foot-5 guard who plays bigger, swooped in for a rebound and lay-in.
Brown finished with 10 points, while Ebuka Izundu and Dewan Huell led Miami with 14 apiece.