Women’s basketball preps for NCAA Tourney

The women’s basketball team has had a dream season.

They have won over 20 games and earned a first round bye in the Big East Tournament. They should be a four or a five seed when the NCAA Tournament comes around in about a week. They could possibly make a Sweet 16 run.

Compare that to the men’s basketball team. The men had a chance to amend some of their mistakes Saturday night thanks to a gift from Virginia Tech. Only the bottom two teams do not make the Big East Tournament and after Virginia Tech won at Georgetown, the Hurricanes had an opening.

All they needed to do was beat West Virginia at home and they would have been in the Big East Tournament, and with a good showing there, could have possibly earned an NIT bid. Instead, for the 11th time in 12 games, the Hurricanes could not get the job done.

The Hurricanes led by two late in the game, but they gave up two easy lay-ups and a free throw and never recovered. Once again, Miami failed to make a defensive stop with the game on the line and did not score a field goal in the final 2:54 of the game.

Truthfully, the only mystery in the last 12 games is how they beat Villanova. I was hoping maybe that one win would give them momentum, which could have propelled them into the Big East Tournament and maybe set them up to pull off an upset. However, it was not to be and instead, more frustration and a second consecutive 4-12 season in the Big East.

The reason I’m telling you about the men’s team is so students can appreciate what the women’s basketball team has done. As much as the men have struggled, the Lady ‘Canes have made our school proud. The Hurricanes ended the regular season 22-5 overall and 11-5 in the Big East. The 22 victories they posted are eight more than the men earned.

In addition, the ladies play basketball the right way. They have the ability make a defensive stand and they can score down the stretch.

They will also be playing in both the Big East and the NCAA tournaments.

Led by a dominant starting five consisting of sophomore Tamara James, who was named to the All-Big East first team, juniors Melissa Knight and Yolanda McCormick and seniors Chanivia Broussard and Shaquana Wilkins, the Hurricanes are poised to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament. McCormick received an honorable mention on the All-Big East team, and Broussard made the third team. Don’t be surprised if this team pulls off an upset or two and makes a Final Four run. I’m not predicting that it will happen, but I’m simply telling you not to rule out the possibility that it could happen. The Hurricanes starting five is among the best in the nation, with four starters averaging double digits and the fifth, Melissa Knight, averaging over nine points a game.

The Hurricanes’ biggest concern is depth, which has hurt them against good teams like Connecticut and Notre Dame, but if they can overcome that, this team could be a dark horse to go all the way.

So when March Madness rolls around and you’re filling out your men’s brackets for the pools you will be playing in, don’t be depressed because Miami is not on there. Instead, turn to the next page of the newspaper and you will see our school listed in a bracket. You will see Miami as a fairly high seed. It might even make you smile.

So when it’s time for March Madness, remember the women’s basketball team. Watch them when they play, and take time to pay attention to whom they are playing and how they are doing. Otherwise, if they win the national title, you won’t be invited to the parade.

Darren Grossman can be contacted at d.grossman@umiami.edu