Tonight, the Miami Hurricanes will play in the Sweet 16 vs Iowa St with a chance to move to the Elite 8 for the 1st time in school history. Coach L did a tremendous job maximizing the talent, age and scheme behind a huge turnaround in 2022. The football team can learn a lot about the basketball season and use it in the fall.
Miami basketball was wrecked by the Adidas scandal in an unfair way which basically derailed multiple seasons. Coach L (who I’ve criticized) never made excuses, and he kept pushing through even though he could’ve given plenty of reasons as to why he was not winning games. Instead he held the group together, convinced Isaiah Wong to come back to school and found Charlie Moore in the transfer portal. Keeping those 2 players, and Kameron McGusty have made Miami a dynamic player and tough matchup in the NCAA tournament.
What can the football team learn from the basketball team?
Question sounds crazy when you think about the history of the 2 respective programs, but football needs to look and follow.
One of my biggest complaints about Canes football over the past 20 years is kids leaving for the NFL when they weren’t guaranteed to be a high round draft choice. The NFL is a cut throat business, and if you’re not drafted in the 1st 4 rounds there is a great chance that your career will be short lived. My philosophy has always been if the grade comes back as a top 4 round grade, go to the draft, but if not it’s better to go back to school and improve your draft stock. Now it’s understandable that life situations may dictate that choice to leave early, but in the grand scheme of things, those choices have rarely worked out. Where would the Canes be this year if not for the 4 super seniors? Probably not playing still.
The second thing that this years basketball season should teach the football team in adaptability to your talent. When the Canes were blown out by Alabama 96-64 just a few days after a double digit loss to an average Dayton team, Coach L implemented more small ball and more scrambling, trapping and causing havoc on defense. Against Dayton, Rodney Miller got the start, Sam Waardenburg only played 23 minutes, and Miami looked slow to the ball. Since that point the Canes have turned into the group that we see playing deep into March. Auburn said they never had been hit in the mouth like Miami did this past Sunday night. It’s time for the football team to follow suit. When is the last time Miami has changed to play to the strengths of their personnel? Maybe adding the Striker position a few years ago? Outside of that there seems to have been too few in season or in game adjustments to use our talent the correct way. A more competent coaching staff should alleviate a ton of these problems.
Finally can the Canes football team learn to sweep poor games or moments behind them more quickly? Canes hoops had a few heartbreaking losses during the year, including 2 one point losses to FSU, a few tough ones to UVA and VT and a hard fought 4-point defeat to Duke in the ACC tournament. Through it all the Canes were galvanized and even in the 1st round vs USC when things got tight down the stretch The U never faltered. The football team can take lessons from this, and take bad plays and possessions and not allow them to manifest into something worse. Mario Cristobal and his staff are preaching accountability in all aspects of the game, so this should be alleviated in 2022.
Coach L has silenced a ton of his critics (including me) and has Canes hoops with a chance to make history. It’s been a remarkable turnaround season, and hopefully the team that’s currently in spring practice can follow the same direction.