Barry Jackson

Miami Hurricanes add obscure football opponent. And basketball ready for a rebound?

dvarela@miamiherald.com

The University of Miami football team, whose 2021 non-conference schedule has two difficult games, added a potential breather that year by booking a home game with Central Connecticut.

That gives UM a third non-conference home game next year. UM confirmed that Central Connecticut booking.

Miami’s 2021 non-conference schedule also includes the Sept. 4 opener against Alabama in Atlanta and home games Sept. 11 against Appalachian State and Sept. 18 against Michigan State. The game against Central Connecticut will be Sept. 25.

Central Connecticut finished 11-2 last season and lost in the first round of the FBS playoffs to Albany, 42-14.

According to fbschedules.com, UM will pay Central Connecticut $650,000 for playing the game. There is no return visit to Connecticut.

Miami’s Atlantic Coast conference schedule in 2021 includes home games against Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Virginia and road games against FSU, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Duke.

UM will play seven game at Hard Rock Stadium in 2021, four on the road and one (against Alabama) at a neutral site.

Here’s UM’s 2020 schedule.

BASKETBALL UPDATE

UM’s basketball season ended last week with a loss to Clemson, with Miami closing at 15-16 and 7-14 in the ACC.

But the Canes privately believe they could have a top 25 caliber team next season with the expected addition of five-star Maryland-based small forward Earl Timberlake, who has committed to UM but not signed.

UM also will welcome four-star New Hampshire based small forward Matt Cross, who was rated the 83rd best player in the 2020 class. He has already signed with Miami and he’s a very good perimeter shooter.

UM returns point guard Chris Lykes, shooting guard Kam McGusty, forward Sam Waardenberg, this season’s three freshmen (impressive point guard Isaiah Wong, forward Anthony Walker and guard Harlond Beverly) and centers Deng Gak and Rodney Miller.

And transfer Nysier Brooks, the center from Cincinnati, also becomes eligible. The 6-11 center averaged 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks and 22.9 minutes in 35 games, all starts, for Cincinnati last season.

“Brooks is not super skilled, but he’s a space eater, a low-post blodder,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla told me last summer.

The Canes lose senior guard D.J. Vaseljevic.

▪ Wong’s play in the second half of the season was encouraging. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said the Orangemen were at a disadvantage with Wong playing more minutes amid an injury to Lykes during UM’s overtime win in the regular season finale.

“He (Wong) is bigger and more difficult for us size-wise,” Boeheim said. “Lykes is a really good player, but Wong is more of a concern because he’s bigger, gets to the basket.”

Wong finished the season averaging 7.7 points and shooting 37.3 percent on threes, but must improve his assist-to-turnover. he had 52 turnovers, 32 assists. On the plus side, he made 23 free throws in a row to end the season and had dynamic late-season games against FSU (23 points), Boston College (21), Virginia Tech (27) and Syracuse (18).

Lykes finished the season averaging 15.4 points, with 62 assists and 54 turnovers.

▪ Quick stuff: If you missed it, defensive end Scott Patchan transferred to Colorado State... Butch Barry, dismissed as UM’s offensive line coach after the season, was hired by the Green Bay Packers as a senior analyst...

Former UM running back DeeJay Dallas is attracting a lot of pre-draft interest.... Though the NBA reportedly has asked teams to check on the availability of smaller arenas to hold games with no fans eventually, UM said Monday it has not been contacted.

Here’s my piece on what we heard from UM’s four spring football practices.

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