The 2013 season has undoubtedly been a dream come true for the Miami Hurricanes. It’s a fairytale ride that not even Jim Larranaga, a noted believer in visualizing one’s goals, probably could have imagined.
But the team is still six wins away from its ultimate goal. The Canes have departed for Austin, Texas, to face the Pacific Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 2:10 p.m. Friday.
In their first trip to the Big Dance since 2008, the Canes will be playing in a winnable East Region. Miami’s experience and maturity – the average Hurricane is 21.3 years old – as well as their superb guard play should propel them to an Elite Eight showdown with No. 1-seed Indiana.
Tom Crean’s Hoosiers and their high-powered offense (80 points per game) will be the ultimate challenge for the swarming Hurricanes defense. Interestingly, Indiana has made the ascent to No. 1 and then lost in the same week on three occasions this year.
To make the final push to Atlanta, the Canes must keep the ball in the reliable hands of All-ACC first teamer and Naismith Player of the Year candidate Shane Larkin. The sophomore point guard, who leads the team in points and assists, has emerged as Miami’s go-to guy with his ability to create for his teammates and make important shots when needed.
Miami’s frontcourt, on the other hand, will rely heavily on sixth-year senior Julian Gamble. With Reggie Johnson struggling to find his pre-injury form, Gamble stepped up as a defensive anchor, leading the Canes with 59 blocks.