Around this time three years ago, Miami topped then No. 2 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center in Kentucky in front of 12,193 fans. It was the first program win over a top two ranked team.
Now, Miami, 11-7 and 4-4 in conference play this season, attempts to repeat that success against No. 4 Louisville (18-2) at the Watsco Center tonight at 7 p.m.
The Hurricanes are on the precipice of breaking through and upsetting another ranked team, which they did on Jan. 16 when they beat No. 12 Georgia Tech 46-45 at home.
But Louisville, Miami’s fourth top-10 opponent this season, presents one of the toughest offensive challenges. The Cardinals are averaging 70.6 points per game. Miami’s biggest strength this season has been their defense; they’ve held opponents to an average of 57.6 points per game.
Miami will no doubt need to put forth its strongest defensive effort to slow the likes of sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith and redshirt senior Kianna Smith.
Kelsey Marshall, the all-time 3-point leader, and Ja’Leah Williams are at the center of Miami’s offense, averaging 14.1 points and 7.5 points per game, respectively.
Given the challenge at hand, one of the easier ways to give Miami an advantage is to have the support of the crowd.
The last women’s basketball game I went to – before winter break – there were a grand total of four students in attendance. At the men’s game against FSU two weeks ago, students broke the record for attendance, with well over 2,000.
“Because our style is so fun on the defensive end, I think they’re missing out if they don’t come,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said about student attendance earlier in the season. “I want them to come and I hope they do come because they make all the difference in the world in the energy. We are a really fun team so I hope the students will adopt us and really pour their energy into us.”
For those students that don’t know, Meier is the winningest coach in Miami basketball history, men’s or women’s. She was named a co-recipient of the 2013 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year after a 9-0 record and gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship.
Meier is a role-model type of coach and her players are hard-working and entertaining, and they deserve the respect and attention of the students.
Category 5 will be giving away “We Live Where You Vacation” t-shirts to students in attendance. Come for the free shirts, stay for the basketball.