“What’s the deal with the basketball team?”
“Could they be any more up-and-down?”
“They lost to Binghamton?!”
These are just a sample of thoughts that may have crossed the minds of Miami basketball fans this year.
There was a win against Georgia Tech but then a loss to Cleveland State. There was a great defensive showing against a tough Maryland squad but then four losses in which they trailed by at least 20 in some point in the game. The only thing for sure thus far is that there is no sure thing.
This is the story of the 2006-2007 University of Miami men’s basketball season. It is a season of peaks and valleys, a season of feast and famine. No doubt, there were questions swirling around this team coming into the season, but no one could have foreseen this type of outcome.
When you look back upon the season, what has happened becomes much clearer. The best explanation for the fluctuations can be summed up in one word: injuries. Miami has lost four of their tallest five players since December. All of these injuries are long-term, leaving the team short handed for the better part of two months now. The difficult losses are best highlighted by the story of Keaton Copeland.
Copeland has been a role player for the ‘Canes for three years now, playing in only seven games total prior to this year. Following the injuries, he became a much more familiar face, appearing in nine games and starting in six.
Copeland has done a yeoman’s job in his role, stepping into a tough spot and making the best of it. However, it is a tough road to hoe, going against some of the country’s best forwards game after game. When scholarship athletes go against walk-ons, the scholarship athletes tend to get the upper hand.
“Unless I can get some walk-ons from the school, I don’t know how we deal with it,” Head Coach Frank Haith said. “All we can do is be positive.”
The losses have stung a fan base that yearns for a breakout year, especially after early success against the Yellow Jackets. Expectations were set and then cruelly snatched away.
Some fans have washed their hands of the team, losing their “Faith in Haith.” While the bad breaks have effected both players and fans, it’s important to not lose hope. Haith has made efforts to build the program, and you can’t blame the man for injuries.
Almost half the season is now over. It appears the only redemption is to be found in the ACC tournament. However, conference tournaments are often highlighted by teams who struggle for months, then find their best play during four days in March. Perhaps Miami’s inconsistency could help them.
Is it probable? No. But is it possible? Yes. So get in, sit down, and be sure your lap bar is tightly secured. This one could be a bumpy ride.
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.