Well it's not exactly the Final 4, but there is definitely a special feel about playing this deep in March.
Additionally the circumstances of UM's deep NIT run make it all the more impressive.
Already with out Angel Rodriguez, with JaQuan Newton limited with a hand injury, and having to play 36 minutes with out Tonye Jekiri (concussion), the Hurricanes somehow overcame a tough as nails, and should have been in the NCAA Tourney Temple squad for the win tonight.
All of this backing up an effort at Richmond where they had to overcome an 18 point second half deficit, not to mention what was frankly at times one-sided officiating in favor of the Spiders.
Back to tonight's effort.
Let's take a deep breathe and look back at what made the win over the Owls possible.
- James Palmer only had two buckets on the night, but both were huge. His second half two-handed rim rocker was a turning point.
- Sheldon McClellan gets it. Back to back 16 point performances only tell half the story of his last 2 games. The guy has got ice water in his veins, and has turned into a real clutch performer. His 11 rebounds minus TJ were huge as well.
- Where would Miami have been tonight with out Omar Sherman? His 6 points, 3 boards, and one ridiculous block were very much needed this evening.
- Davon Reed is a glue guy and a leader. 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists may seem like modest numbers, but Reed does whatever it takes to help his team win.
- The Hurricanes blocked 8 shots tonight, and none of them were from Jekiri. They were undersized once he departed, but their multitude of guards and wings defended the rim like rabid dogs anyways.
Bring on Stanford!
ADDITIONAL POSTGAME NOTES (courtesy UM)
* After defeating Temple in the semifinals of the NIT, Miami will play for its first-ever national championship.
* In the Canes’ 12th appearance in the NIT, Miami is now 11-11 overall in the tournament, with a 1-0 mark in the semifinals.
* Miami’s 25 wins are second-most in school history, trailing 29 victories in 2012-13.
* Miami improves to 2-2 all-time against Temple, with a 0-1 mark at home, 0-1 on the road and 2-0 record at a neutral site
* Coach Jim Larrañaga earned his first-career win over Temple.
* Coach Jim Larrañaga has a 561-382 overall record in his 31st season as a head coach. He is 91-48 in his fourth season at the University of Miami, with a 41-29 mark in ACC play.
* Coach Jim Larrañaga, a native of The Bronx, coached his first game at Madison Square Garden as a head coach. He played in the World’s Most Famous Arena multiple times while playing college ball for Providence, and was an assistant coach for Virginia when the Cavaliers won the NIT in 1980. Larrañaga’s final collegiate game as a Friar was played against UNC in 1971, an 86-79 loss for PC in the NIT Elite 8.
* Miami has played 15 games this season that were decided by five points-or-less.
* Miami has scored 25+ points from the bench in 16 games this season, and 30+ in eight times. Miami’s high is 34 against South Alabama and vs. Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament.
* Miami has used 11 starting lineups this season, and every scholarship player has started at least one game.
RECORD BY STARTING LINEUP
Rodriguez, Lecomte, McClellan, Thomas, Jekiri 10-4
Rodriguez, Lecomte, McClellan, Sherman, Jekiri 0-1
Rodriguez, Burnett, McClellan, Sherman, Jekiri 2-0
Rodriguez, Burnett, McClellan, Reed, Jekiri 0-1
Rodriguez, Reed, McClellan, Sherman, Jekiri 3-3
Rodriguez, Newton, McClellan, Reed, Jekiri 1-1
Rodriguez, Palmer, McClellan, Reed, Jekiri 2-0
Lecomte, Reed, McClellan, Thomas, Jekiri 0-1
Lecomte, Reed, McClellan, Cruz Uceda, Jekiri 4-0
Lecomte, Reed, McClellan, Palmer, JekirI 2-1
Rodriguez, Reed, McClellan, Cruz Uceda, Jekiri 1-0
* With his team-high 16 points against the Owls, Sheldon McClellan has scored in double digits in 30 games this season.
* With two assists, Ja’Quan Newton has dished at least a pair of assists in the last three games, after two apiece at Richmond and vs. Alabama. Newton now has 12 games with multiple assists.
* After scoring eight points, Deandre Burnett has now scored in nine-straight games and in 13 of his last 14 appearances.
* Over the past three games, Reed has grabbed 27 rebounds, after averaging 3.4 per game for the season, prior to the game against Alabama.
* With four helpers, Reed has tallied an assist in each of the past 13 games, and multiple assists on eight occasions.
* Since Feb. 28 against North Carolina, Manu Lecomte has hit 33-of-36 from the line. He is 25-of-27 in the postseason (ACC Tournament and NIT).
* Tonye Jekiri has 366 rebounds this season, trailing No. 3 Harry Manushaw (372), No. 2 Rick Barry (448) and No. 1 Rick Barry (475).
* Sheldon McClellan grabbed five rebounds in the first half to tie his season-high before the break. His prior five-rebound first half was also on a neutral court (11/23/14 vs. Charlotte in the Gildan Charleston Classic in South Carolina). He entered the game averaging 1.9 rebounds in the first frame.