First, great run by the Hurricanes to end their season. In years past, Miami basketball teams would just mail it in for the NIT. This team had many opportunities to call it quits the last three games. Instead they showed toughness and clawed their way back each game. After watching the film, the Canes will kick themselves for some missed opportunities in their comeback. Here is what led to the result of the 2015 NIT Championship.
Missing Tonye Jekiri - Personally, I felt losing Jekiri would be the toughest to overcome because of his rebounding. The way he limits the other team's second chance opportunities, is easy to take for granted. The Stanford lack of strength and finishing down low from their big men, kept it from being worse. They were able to take advantage over the Canes at crucial points in the game. Joe Thomas was in to fill that role, but his foul trouble took him out for most the game and the Canes missed his energy.
Attacking the Hoop - Same as what happened in Richmond. One thing was working, and the Canes stayed with it. Davon Reed started it off early in the second half with a couple drives to the basket. Sheldon McClellan finally realized he could beat his defender every play. Stanford kept the lane open instead of adjusting to close it off. While McClellan kept attacking, there were a couple possessions he held back. Who knows, could have been the difference.
Michael Irvin - ESPN kept cutting to him and even went double box, so obviously he was a key to the game.
Free Throws - Stanford made theirs at the end of the game. Miami made them, but missed them at crucial times.
A Well Officiated Game, Until the Last Minute - All game the referees let the two teams play. This helps the game of basketball stay exciting and keeps the game flowing. Sadly for both teams that changed late in OT. Chasson Randle was bailed out with a bad jump shot attempt and the last overturned tipped ball appeared to be a make up call. Sad to see a great game come down to whistles.
Kept Fighting - To end on a positive note, the Canes kept fighting. They did the last three games starting in Richmond, against a good Temple team on Tuesday, and tonight against Stanford. Would have been nice to take an NIT championship into the offseason but they definitely have something to build on for next year.
Individual Notes (Courtesy UM)
-Sheldon McClellan has 31 games with 10+ points this season and 15 games with 10+ points in the second half alone. McClellan finished the game with 17 points.
-Miami started three players who were not on the team a season ago: Freshman Ja’Quan Newton, freshman Omar Sherman and junior Ivan Cruz Uceda.
-Ja’Quan Newton started the third game of his career and connected on multiple 3-point field goals for the first time as a Hurricane.
-Omar Sherman tied a career high with three blocks (previously done vs. NC State, 1/22/15).
-Ivan Cruz Uceda tied his career high with two blocks (previously done vs. Alabama, 3/21/15).
-Davon Reed scored in double-digits in three of the last four games.
-Miami outscored its opponents 40.4-32.6 in the second half of the NIT. The Hurricanes outscored Stanford by a 38-27 count.
-Miami is 37-45 all-time in overtime games, including 7-8 under Coach Jim Larrañaga and 1-2 this season.
-Miami has played 16 games this season that were decided by five points-or-less. The Canes had five losses by a total of 22 points in the month of February. Three of those games were decided by a total of five points.