A new era for women’s bball

Miami women’s basketball is out to prove that last year’s struggles are in the past.

A new chapter for the Hurricanes begins with the story of the offseason: the hiring of Head Coach Katie Meier. Meier will try to turn around a team which finished 12-15 overall and 4-10 in ACC play last year before losing in the second round of the ACC tournament.

“We’re excited,” senior Tamara James said. “The coaches are very motivated and encouraging. The style of play is uptempo and everyone is accepting of what their roles are.”

Miami had a recent string of regular season success when it was in the Big East. The Hurricanes landed in the NCAA tournament two years in a row before last season.

Senior guard Melissa Knight said the players feel Meier can make the Hurricanes a perennial contender.

“She’s just willing to start fresh and build this program to what it should be,” Knight said.

Knight has returned for a fifth season after the second ACL injury of her career. In her junior year Knight averaged 9.3 points and 4.4 rebounds a game.

“We missed Melissa [Knight] a lot last year,” James said.

That production should be back to give Miami another formidable offensive threat along with James, who finished fourth in the nation last year in scoring and is on pace to possibly challenge the school record for career points.

“I don’t think that she is 100 percent right now,” Meier said. “That really excites me to see what she is like when she is 100 percent.”

Miami has the advantage of playing its first eight games at home, which should help give the Hurricanes enough time to learn Meier’s system before they head out into hostile territory.

“It takes so much time for them to learn about me,” Meier said. “We have tried to be very patient with them, but we will need to make quick adjustments during the course of a game to win.”

While Meier has been preaching an uptempo style of play, she also expects hard-nose, aggressive defense, Knight said.

“We want to start off playing great defense,” Knight said. “If teams can’t score against us early, then they can’t play their offense.”

Miami is picked to finish 11th out of 12 ACC teams this year, but the Hurricanes are using this to their advantage.

“I think that people should fear us if anything,” Knight said. “I like being ranked lower because you have so much to prove.”

While the coaching staff would like the take the season one game at a time, James said the players have different thoughts after a tough season last year.

“My goals are making postseason play,” James said, “beat everyone that beat us last year and kick some behind in the ACC conference.”

Denis Brown can be contacted at dbrown@umsis.miami.edu.