With guards Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez, center Tonye Jekiri, and even Ja’Quan Newton coming off the bench garnering most of the attention, it could be easy to overlook the role junior guard Davon Reed is playing for Miami in the stretch run of the regulator season.
That, however, depends on who’s doing the looking.
Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga had a ready reply when asked at his weekly press briefing if Reed might be underrated.
“He’s not underrated on our team, but he might be underrated by you guys, by the media,” he said. “I doubt that he is underrated by our opponents because they watch tapes and they see how well and how hard he plays.
“Now he may not get the recognition some guys get, but that’s because you only have room for so many guys who are going to get a lot of attention. Angel and Sheldon and even Tonye get the most attention.”
That’s not exclusive to Miami. Larranaga cited several examples on other Atlantic Coast Conference contenders — Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram at Duke, Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige at North Carolina, Damion Lee and Trey Lewis at Louisville — where the top two scorers garner most of the headlines.
“It’s hard for everybody on a team to get the recognition that they truly deserve,” Larranaga said.
Reed, of course, got it last Monday night. With both McClellan and Newton somewhat limited by ankle and leg injuries, Reed scored a career-high 21 points, going six-of-eight from the field and tying a career high in 3-pointers with five in just six attempts, in the 64-61 victory over Virginia.
Larranaga saw right away that Reed was on his game, starting with the 3-pointer he hit to open the scoring.
“I was so impressed with the way he played against Virginia,” Larranaga said. “Because he was so calm. He was very much in control, very much focused and very confident.
“When he made that first shot, it actually gave me a great deal of confidence, not just that it went in but how much in control he seemed to have. He was not in a hurry, the shot clock was probably winding down and yet he seemed to have all the time in the world. That’s the sign of a really good player.”
Reed had his moments early in the season — 19 points in a win over Louisiana, 19 in a loss to Northeastern, 17 in the loss at Clemson — but was in double figures only about half the time (10 times in the first 21 games). He has stepped up his game more recently and has scored in double figures in five of his last six outings, the exception being the loss last Saturday at North Carolina.
“I think first and foremost I just try and be a leader on the court,” he said when asked what was behind the recent surge. “I may sacrifice some of my game, whether it be like scoring or other areas for the good of the team, but recently I’ve been feeling a need to score the basketball and be more of a force on offense.
“And shots have been falling for me, and that’s pretty much it.”
The resurgence couldn’t come at a better time. The Hurricanes are tied for second place with Louisville going into Saturday’s home outing against the Cardinals (2 p.m. ET, ACC Network) and are in a fight for one of the top four spots in next month’s ACC tourney. Such a finish would give them a direct slot in the tourney’s quarterfinals.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett noted after the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hurricanes just how important Reed could be for the Hurricanes.
“You need that X factor in games like this,” Bennett said. “That guy, one of the other guys. You know Rodriguez and other guys are going to be your typical suspects. You need someone else to step up, and he did that in this game.”