‘Canes begin play tommorow night
The Hurricane women’s basketball team learned Sunday night that they were headed to New Mexico for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The announcement surprised everybody but themselves.
The ‘Canes were considered a bubble team despite advancing to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament in Piscataway, New Jersey, where they lost to eventual conference champion Villanova.
The players and coaches, however, felt that their performance in the tournament clinched a spot in the field of 64.
“We were pretty confident after finishing well in the tournament,” guard Hutashi Wilson said. “We all knew that we deserved to be in the field.”
The ‘Canes are seeded 11th in the west region and take on sixth seeded New Mexico tomorrow night in Albuquerque. The team will have to work with what they actually know about the Lobos, which is not very much at all.
“We haven’t seen any film yet,” Wilson said. “We do know that they are a strong team in the post and are very disciplined.”
The Lobos certainly have the home-court advantage. The potential hostile environment, though, is something that doesn’t concern Miami.
“We feel that we actually play better on the road,” Wilson said. “We had to deal with big crowds against Notre Dame and Rutgers and we were able to win those games. We tend to put more pressure on ourselves when we play at home.”
With war looming on the horizon, the chairmen of the NCAA were forced to ponder the idea of postponing tournament games if the United States attacks Iraq this week. This could affect both the men’s and women’s games and would be the first time the tournament has ever been postponed.
If the U.S. does indeed go to war, the ‘Canes might have to deal with staying in New Mexico for as long as a week. This would force players to miss classes and other responsibilities, and could lead to travel problems for all of the teams involved.
Throughout this week, coaches and team representatives have been preparing the team for the prospect of missing more than a week of school.
“We will be prepared for whatever happens during the tournament,” Wilson said. “We have to deal with it because we could be stuck in New Mexico for a while.”
A different event that caught the attention of the women’s basketball nation was the shocking upset of the University of Connecticut by Villanova in the Big East finals. The loss snapped a 70 game win streak for the Huskies.
The ‘Canes players feel that the game will give more teams confidence going into the tournament.
“I think many teams like us felt that we could beat UConn, but when it came down to actually doing it nobody was able to,” Wilson said. “This year teams kept coming close and then finally Villanova, who we almost beat, came through.”
In a very busy week for the ‘Canes, the players are making sure they do not stray from their main objective of beating New Mexico and making a run in the NCAA Tournament.
“We feel that we match up well with New Mexico,” Wilson said. “We’re very confident that we belong in this tournament and that we can do some damage.”
-Eric Kalis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org