This article was originally written by Rachel Cox-Rosen and appeared in The Miami Hurricane on October 15, 2015. It has been republished with the author’s permission.
This season, all eyes are on Miami point guard and Puerto Rico native Angel Rodriguez, who missed the last part of the 2014-15 season due to a wrist sprain. The 2014-15 campaign was Rodriguez’s first in Miami after transferring from Kansas State and sitting out for the 2013-14 season. He started out the season impressively, showing leadership and consistency with sharp three-point shooting and ball handling. However, as the season progressed, Rodriguez looked considerably less confident.
“There was a stretch where he played well some games but didn’t play quite as well in others,” Head Coach Jim Larrañaga said. “In those games, he just needed more help. He needed other guys to step up.”
Many of Rodriguez’s issues, mainly his inconsistency, can be traced back to the problem of him holding too much leadership responsibility. Although the point guard position often comes with the expectation of leadership, Rodriguez’s first priority should have been improving himself as a player. In a press conference, Larrañaga explained that he put too much responsibility on Rodriguez’s shoulders last season, but that this problem has been rectified for this season.
“It’s different this year. Last year, it was just on me,” Rodriguez said. “Coach L finally decided to have other guys as leaders, too. It just makes it easier for me, easier for him, better for the team to not only listen to one voice but have others.”
The lightening of responsibility should give Rodriguez, now a redshirt senior, the time and energy necessary to address some areas he needs to improve upon from last season. Ball control is one issue. He tallied 74 turnovers last season. He should also look to up his number of assists, having finished with 126. He ended the season with a 33.7 shooting percentage, down from his performance at Kansas State in 2012-13 of 36.1 percent.
When asked about what his game will be like this season, Rodriguez said, “More under control. Improving a lot on getting a better assist-to-turnover ratio, and the shot selection is definitely going to be better.”
Like many athletes, remaining healthy is a challenge Rodriguez will face this season. He played through a knee injury throughout his time at Kansas State and his wrist injury in 2015 cost him the ability to play in the last part of the season.
“Injuries are something you have to be willing to accept at times,” Rodriguez said. “They’re definitely frustrating, but I’m mentally prepared for anything that comes, and hopefully, it doesn’t come this year.”
If Rodriguez is able to stay healthy, share leadership responsibility and play consistently, this could be a record year in the point guard’s college career. When it comes to the team as a whole, Rodriguez is supremely confident.
“Last year, I don’t think we knew how good we could be. This year, we actually know what we could accomplish and we’re not settling for anything less than an ACC Championship and a Final Four appearance,” Rodriguez said. “This is the year we could actually do something very special.”