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Miami Basketball Plays for a Championship Tonight Vs Stanford in the Garden

Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Well it's all come down to this for Miami Basketball.

Win or lose, the season ends tonight Vs Stanford in the NIT Championship Game.

And what an exciting and tumultuous season it has been.

The wins on the road over Florida, Duke, and Syracuse.

The home losses to Green Bay, Georgia Tech, and Eastern Kentucky.

And of course, the magical March NIT run that culminated it tonight's game.

There aren't enough superlatives to describe the 2014-15 season for this 'Canes team, perhaps at the conclusion of the season we can enlist Coach L for help.

But now it's all about winning a championship.

And as has been the nature of this season, they will have to overcome adversity to do it.

There will be no Tonye Jekiri in the line-up tonight.  No Angel Rodriguez.  And Manu Lecomte and JaQuan Newton, not to mention Davon Reed and perhaps a few others, will be playing through nagging injuries.

It just wouldn't be the season it has been with out a few extra hurdles to clear.

Lately of course,  this team has been thriving off of difficult circumstances.

How else can you explain the 18 point second half road comeback Vs Richmond in the quarterfinals?  Or the gritty, determined, can not be denied win over Temple in the semis despite playing 34 minutes with out Jekiri?

Sheldon McClellan and Davon Reed have been sensational through out the NIT.

Reed has emerged to do  a little bit of everything, and is clearly the team's best defensive stopper.

McClellan has become an ice cold assassin in the clutch moments of games.

It hasn't been lost on UM Coach Jim Larranaga,

"Since Angel's been out, Sheldon has had to take on more of a leadership role and had to work at getting himself open and taking it upon himself to create shots for himself and his teammates.  He's got better and better at it. Last night he took over the game and made two great decisions.  He did the same thing at Richmond. I think that is helping his confidence and helping his teammates' confidence in him."

But McClellan and Reed have not been alone.

All 4 of Miami's freshman made key contributions Vs the Owls on Tuesday Night.  With out Jekiri in the line-up, look for more minutes for Omar Sherman this evening in particular.

Tonight's opponent is one Larranaga is very wary of.

Stanford is a well balanced opponent with a star player leading the way.

On the match up Vs the Cardinal Coach L offered,

"I think we match up pretty well with them when we are healthy.  I do not know how we match up with them now.  We are going to have to figure things out when the game starts and make some adjustments. They have one of the most dynamic PGs in the country in Chasson Randle. He's the leading scorer in Stanford history.  Inside Stefan Nastic is a horse. He can rebound and defend and is a real force inside."

So tonight the Hurricanes are again going to need to be resourceful, tough, and clutch.

But they seemed to have found the formula,

"Our team showed some real resiliency and pulled together somehow and were able to make a good comeback in the second half and defeat a very good Temple team.  Our defense in the second half was very good, holding them to 22% shooting and no three point field goals made..... I think what the guys learned is if you keep playing hard on the defensive end of the floor and are willing to share the ball, you can enjoy success. " - Coach Jim Larranaga on yesterday's conference call

Can they do it again and bring home a championship banner from NYC?

After the last couple of games, can you really bet against them?

Enjoy the game, Hurricanes fans!

Game Information

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York

When: Thursday, April 2

Start Time: 9 p.m. ET


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