Miami forward Norchad Omier a handful for ACC opponents

Miami Hurricanes forward Norchad Omier (15) and guard Jordan Miller (11) celebrate as the Hurricanes hold the lead late in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

Miami Hurricanes forward Norchad Omier (15) and guard Jordan Miller (11) celebrate as the Hurricanes hold the lead late in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.

[email protected]

The Miami Hurricanes clung to a one-point lead over Virginia Tech at halftime Tuesday night and their high-energy power forward Norchad Omier was carrying two fouls into the second half.

Omier, a transfer from Arkansas State, has emerged as one of the most dominant post players in the ACC this season. He is the league’s most accurate shooter at 60.4 percent. He ranks second in rebounds with 10.3 per game, fourth in blocks with 33 in 22 games and fourth in double-doubles with 10.

But he tends to get in foul trouble because of his brute strength and unbridled desire to get his hands on the ball.

UM coaches have been working overtime with Omier to help him direct his energy and be more selective when he fouls. But 10 seconds into the second half against the Hokies, Omier picked up his third foul, leading to a pair of free throws by Justin Mutts that allowed Virginia Tech to regain a one-point edge.

Fans probably assumed Miami coach Jim Larranaga would pull Omier at that moment and save him for later. They assumed wrong. Omier stayed on the floor, scored nine of UM’s 11 points over the next four minutes, played another 14 minutes and never got a fourth foul. He led the Canes with 21 points on the night on 9-of-12 shooting and had eight rebounds.

His second half play-by-play sheet read like this: Omier offensive rebound. Omier dunk. Omier free throw good. Omier offensive rebound. Omier layup. Omier defensive rebound. Omier jumper.”

“He has to be more disciplined in when to exert his athleticism in traffic, whether he charges or goes over someone’s back or tries to slap at the ball because he’s so valuable to us,” Larranaga said. “We can’t have him sitting on the bench next to me. He picked up his third, but I wasn’t taking him out.”

Omier had a monster block in the final seconds that led to a Wooga Poplar dunk to put an exclamation point on the 92-83 win.

Heading into Saturday’s road game against ACC leader Clemson and Monday’s ESPN Big Monday home game against Duke, Omier is determined to play smart.

“It’s more mental than physical,” Omier said about avoiding fouls. “Coach says I want to be everywhere and sometimes I’ve got to pick and choose where to be and where not to be. Sometimes it’s better giving up two points than getting a foul and having to sit down.”

Omier has been doing much better in that aspect the past few games. Just like good shooters have to learn to be good shot selectors, Larranaga said defensive players have to learn how to select when and how they foul.

“Norchad is a high-energy, high-octane player,” Larranaga said. “We don’t really want to corral it as much as direct it. We want him to be aggressive at both ends, but to be selective as to how to use that energy.”

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton has been watching Omier for the past few years and knew heading into the Seminoles’ game against Miami that he would be a handful.

“He’s a very strong, tough, physical player,” Hamilton said. “Norchad is one of those guys that is so determined, so confident in what he’s doing that it’s hard to keep him from doing what he does best, being who he is. One of our coaches described him as a guy who doesn’t worry about getting a pass or getting fed. He’s telling those guys to shoot because he’s going to get the rebound and put it back up. He has a different mindset than most guys. He plays to his strengths.”

Omier is the first player from Nicaragua to play Division I basketball and has become a fan favorite among Miami’s Hispanic fans. He is also a role model for young Nicaraguan athletes back home. Tuesday was International Night at the Watsco Center, and Omier was delighted to see his nation’s flag in the stands.

“I am so grateful for all the Latin fans who came and the Nicaraguans who waited for me to say hello after the games,” Omier said. “It makes me very proud to be representing the Hispanic community and that motivates me even more.”

Related stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald sportswriter Michelle Kaufman has covered 14 Olympics, six World Cups, Wimbledon, US Open, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, NBA Playoffs, Super Bowls and has been the soccer writer and University of Miami basketball beat writer for 25 years. She was born in Frederick, Md., and grew up in Miami.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
%d bloggers like this: