Durand Scott does a little of everything for Miami

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Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

Shane Larkin is the star point guard, the son of a baseball Hall of Famer. Kenny Kadji is the baby-faced, 6-foot-11 senior who shoots 3-pointers. Julian Gamble has a Mohawk, the sly grin of a knowing veteran and a way with a phrase.

On the Miami basketball team, soft-spoken senior Durand Scott is easily overlooked but hardly dispensable. Ask any Hurricanes coach about the value of Larkin and the conversation invariably turns to his backcourt sidekick.

The 6-5 Scott moved from his point guard slot last year to accommodate Larkin and now fills a variety of roles. Scott (13.2 ppg, 2.5 apg) takes over the point when Larkin needs a breather, shares ball-handling duties when the heat is unrelenting, guards the opponent's best backcourt player and still serves as the Hurricanes' go-to scorer on the wing.

When second-seeded Miami (29-6) faces third-seeded Marquette (25-8) at Verizon Center in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 on Thursday night, it will be difficult to ignore Scott, who will play a vital role in guarding the Golden Eagles' top player, Vander Blue.

NCAA Sweet 16
No. 2 Miami vs. No. 3 Marquette
When » Thursday, 7:15 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » CBS

"He's a great athlete -- long, athletic, can move his feet," Blue said. "Obviously he's the ACC [defensive] player of the year, so he can really guard. But I don't think that's really gonna bother me much."

Blue has reason to be confident. In two tournament wins, the 6-4 junior has scored 45 points, including 33 in the second halves as Marquette rallied from eight points down against Davidson and nine points down vs. Butler. Blue's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left and driving layup with one second to go capped the comeback against Davidson. His 3-pointer with 1:29 left was the Golden Eagles' last field goal against Butler.

"I wouldn't say he reminds me of anybody in the ACC because nobody attacks the rim like he does," Larkin said.

It will be the mission of Scott, the ACC defensive player of the year, to keep Blue out of the lane and off the scoreboard, though he suggested he will need help.

"You gotta be able to play team defense and lock him down," Scott said. "He's a very key guy to their team. If we hold him on the offensive end, I think we'll be fine."

Scott has risen in many of Miami's biggest games. In the Hurricanes' transformational 90-63 victory over then-No. 1 Duke, he outscored Blue Devils standout Seth Curry 25-0. In one of the three games Scott missed to start the season, the Hurricanes lost at Florida Gulf Coast.

"He's really the heart and soul of our team. He's such a tough, blue-collar, competitive guy," Miami assistant Eric Konkol said. "He's the agent that really makes us go from a competitive standpoint. Him and Shane together are just dynamic."

The pairing could have been uncomfortable as Larkin usurped Scott's role and struggled as a freshman. This year, Larkin has been spectacular as the elusive, creative engine of the Miami offense. Much of the credit goes to Scott, who has allowed Larkin to flourish by doing virtually everything else, on and off the court.

"Last year he was huge for me. I was up and down as a freshman," Larkin said. "Just being with him on the court, I can just go out there and play my game because I know he's gonna be right there with me."

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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