Jim Larranaga has a decision to make. A big decision.
In-state rival Florida State awaits Larranaga’s Miami squad in the second round of the ACC Tournament, a team which the Hurricanes have had varied success against this season. An interesting storyline behind those successes or failures appeared to fall around mammoth center Reggie Johnson, who scored seven points against Georgia Tech in the opening round.
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Johnson was declared ineligible by the NCAA in the middle of the season after an investigation revealed his family accepted benefits that are not allowed by the NCAA. Though Johnson was said to have received no extra benefits, he was forced to miss one game before being reinstated.
That game was against the Seminoles.
Miami fell to Florida State 64-59 earlier in the year with Johnson in the game, but without the 6-foot-10 junior center the Hurricanes went small and pummeled the Seminoles in Coral Gables, Fla. If it takes going with a smaller lineup—overloading the floor with athletic wings, which Miami has an abundance of—it would certainly not bother the player in question.
“Whatever coach wants. Coach did [against Georgia Tech], he played small ball. I’m accustomed to it,” Johnson said. “You just gotta be patent with coach because he wants to play small ball against Florida State because they’re a big team. They switch ball screens a lot, so if coach wants to play small ball to get ahead then I’m all for it.”
Johnson said he is a win-first guy, not worrying about playing time as long as his team advances in the ACC Tournament and sets itself up for an NCAA bid.
However, teammate Shane Larkin was not sold on putting Johnson on the bench to replicate the gameplan of that Feb. 26 win. Larkin, who impressed Thursday with 12 points and three steals, said its more a matter of presenting the Seminoles with tough matchups.
“Reggie is a mismatch in pretty every game because if you put a smaller guy on him, he’s gonna punish him the paint. If you put a bigger guy on him, he’s quick in the post with his moves,” Larkin said. “I think we definitely missed him last game and having him back is gonna give us more players to play with.”