Cheers turned to silence at the Watsco Center on Thursday night, as the ‘Canes faltered at the hands of #20 Notre Dame 67-62.
After falling behind by double digits early in the second half, Miami stormed back to take a 4 point lead with under 3 minutes to play. After that; however, the inconsistency that plagued Miami in matchups against Florida and Iowa State bit again.
“[We] didn’t execute when we needed too,” senior forward Davon Reed said after the game. “Didn’t close down the stretch. A few bad passes and missed reads. We never hung our heads, just a lack of poise down the stretch.”
Reed led all scorers with 21 points, and Ja’Quan Newton finished second on the team with a 14 point performance. Despite Reed and Newton; however, no other player finished in double figures. After the tough loss, Miami knows they must find success with their toughest stretch of the season coming up.
I love my team no matter what. Don't count us out yet...— Davon Reed (@ClutchREED_5) January 13, 2017
Miami plays Pittsburgh at 12 p.m. Saturday before facing a tough 4 game stretch that includes matchups against Duke and North Carolina.
The ‘Canes are currently projected as a bubble team on numerous bracketology websites, and are still looking for consistency after the loss of multiple playmakers from last season.
“During the course of my career I’ve had that roller coaster ride,” head coach Jim Larrañaga said earlier this week. “Last year we had Angel, Sheldon, Tonye, and Ivan Cruz Uceda; older guys who had been through the ACC battles and really were battle tested, and we were very comfortable no matter where we were.”
The transition hasn’t been easy for the ‘Canes, who have been restricted to a small rotation due to the amount of depth on their roster. Larrañaga noted earlier this week that freshman Rodney Miller was the only rotation player not playing significant minutes, with Dewan Huell and Ebuka Izundu playing large minutes inside.
In 2018 Miami reloads with several ESPN 100 prospects, but if the Hurricanes want to make a run this season, the back half of their rotation must step up. At times the Hurricanes have flashed unlimited potential with transition success, and must continue to use their athleticism on both ends of the floor.
Miami has found ways to score late in the shot clock, but no player is averaging more than 4 assists per game this season. Miami must fix their assist ranking in order to get hot, and will look to do so against a well-coached Pittsburgh defense on the road.