Gamble playing a big part for Miami
BY TIM REYNOLDS Associated Press
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 6:43 AM
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Three blocked shots. Less than four seconds.
The highlight moment of Julian Gamble's career at Miami had nothing to do with offense, which seems fitting for him. After all, the sixth-year senior has scored four points or less in 75 of his 118 career appearances with the Hurricanes.
Instead, it came in the form of one brilliant defensive sequence on Tuesday, where he simply victimized Virginia's Akil Mitchell on a play that has been replayed countless times in the last few days. Mitchell shot, Gamble blocked. Mitchell rebounded and shot again, Gamble blocked. One more time, Mitchell rebounded, head-faked and then shot - and, yep, Gamble swatted that one away as well.
Gamble hardly, if ever, has a play called for him on the offensive end of the floor. Still, he's become invaluable to the second-ranked Hurricanes, a key part of a team that many believe is good enough to win a national championship.
"You can see the impact he's had, the difference between our team last season and this season," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
And to think he should have been gone long ago.
Gamble came to the Hurricanes in 2007, redshirting his true freshman season. He played 93 games over the next three years, almost all as a reserve, and none in the NCAA Tournament.
Before what would have been his senior season and fifth year at the school, Gamble tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left leg. Months later, the NCAA said he qualified for a sixth year - and he's taken full advantage of the chance, working his way into the starting lineup and helping the Hurricanes work their way up the national polls.
"This is what we love doing and we have a story to tell," Gamble said. "We have an opportunity to inspire people and let people know, especially from my point of view, that perseverance definitely pays off over adversity."
Gamble returns to his home state of North Carolina on Saturday, when the Hurricanes put their 14-game winning streak and perfect Atlantic Coast Conference record on the line against Wake Forest.
Gamble is averaging 6.8 points on 56-percent shooting for the Hurricanes (22-3, 13-0), who struggled a bit in the early going before simply catching fire in January.