UM’s comeback win isn’t enough

The Miami men’s basketball victory over Connecticut on Monday night proved to be a remarkable comeback, and an especially outstanding individual performance by junior forward Darius Rice. But this victory also continued a trend in the Hurricanes’ season.
Miami (8-7 overall, 1-3 Big East) comes out prepared and fired up for top opponents, buts lacks the emotional drive and desire to win when competing against lesser opponents. Miami’s play so far this season is analogous to Jeckyl and Hyde. The ‘Canes have put two different teams on the floor.
We can question the coaching staff’s ability to motivate this young team or the blame can be placed upon the players who are unwilling to respond to motivation when it comes before a contest against a lesser opponent. Either way, there shouldn’t be such a big layoff in play when competing against different caliber teams, unless your play gets worse against better teams.
Lets take a look at how Miami has fared so far this season against both quality and lesser opponents.
In the second contest of the season, the Jeckyl in Miami defeated a good Texas A&M team 78-72 at home. James Jones led the ‘Canes with 14 points and eight boards and four other Miami players scored in double figures.
Two games later, the Hyde in Miami traveled up 95 to play Florida Atlantic, a team who they had beaten all 15 times they have played prior. The ‘Canes allowed FAU guard Earnest Crumbley to score 25 points on eight three pointers en route to the Owls’ 74-73 victory in overtime. Rice was held to just 12 points.
In their next contest, the ‘Canes traveled to play former head coach Leonard Hamilton and his FSU team. One would think playing your old coach would be more than enough motivation to at least come out and compete. Yet, the ‘Canes were never in the game, losing 72-55. Rice was held to just 11 points.
On December 21, Miami hosted then No. 13 Florida and played with grit and heart, despite losing 94-93 in double overtime. Rice led the ‘Canes with 32 points and Jones added 26 points. Was this the same team that lost to FAU and got blown out by FSU?
How can Rice and Jones come out and score 20 plus points apiece against a very talented team in Florida, but be held to less than 15 points each against lesser opponents?
In their next contest, Miami recorded their first road victory against Central Florida, with a close 62-51 victory. Despite the victory, Rice scored just five points and attempted only six shots from the field. There is no excuse for your team’s best player and potent scorer to only shoot six times against any team, not to mention a lesser opponent like UCF.
A motivated Hurricane team came out fired up against North Carolina on Jan. 4, in the grand opening of the Convocation Center. The ‘Canes pulled out the tight 64-61 victory in front of a sellout crowd. Jones and Rice scored 21 points and 17 points, respectively.
I won’t rant here and attempt to convince you that a team should be just as fired up to play an FAU or UCF team compared to the opening game at your new arena against national powerhouse UNC. However, there is too much of a discrepancy between the play against the different caliber opponents.
After a close 68-63 loss at a very underrated West Virginia squad, Miami visited their recent archrival and then No. 3 Connecticut on Jan. 11. The ‘Canes played inspired basketball before falling 83-80 in overtime. Rice scored 28 points, including a late three pointer to send the game into overtime.
After two consecutive Big East losses on the road, many would think the ‘Canes would do anything for a victory. But then again, their next opponent was only at Seton Hall (6-7, 1-3). This team or Hyde won’t get motivated for an opponent who they see as an easy victory.
Last Saturday in East Rutherford, NJ, the ‘Canes came out completely flat against Seton Hall, as the Pirates dominated Miami 76-53, holding Rice to 16 points and James Jones to just seven points. Seton Hall has no business defeating Miami by more than 20 points, especially when Miami has proved they can ball against good competition.
We come to an end with the Miami Jeckyl’s defeating No. 8 UConn last Monday night. Will this team continue their Jeckyl and Hyde tendencies or become a consistent team that at the very least can come out and compete on a nightly basis?
I understand that the ‘Canes are in desperate need of a third scoring option after Rice and Jones, and that they can really use another big body in the middle. But on the same token, the current Hurricane team has proved they can compete with top teams like Florida, UNC, and UConn.
All I’m asking for is some consistency. I beg both the coaching staff and players to give equal effort no matter who the opponent.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at