10th-Ranked Canes Hit the Road for Meeting With Cavs
Jan. 18, 2012
|No. 11/10 Miami at Virginia
Jan. 19, 2012 | 7 p.m. | John Paul Jones Arena | Live Stream $
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It’s not often the Hurricanes are fumbling passes, missing open shots and struggling to find any consistency towards the ends of basketball games. With a versatile roster exuding veteran leadership, it simply doesn’t happen that often to the women’s hoops team from the Gables. But after her team nearly blew a 19-point second-half lead against Florida State, the wear and tear of their three previous conference matchups with such little turnaround time was obvious to Head Coach Katie Meier.
“We played three games last week all in six days and all of them were very, very emotional,” Coach Meier said. “It looked really like mental fatigue. Certainly so on the defensive end.”
In the end, the same type of leadership that helped raise Miami to its current No. 11/10 national ranking took charge of the game, pulling out the first win for the Hurricanes in Tallahassee since 1987.
“We got our energy level back. Everyone wanted to win the game for us, and I love that,” Coach Meier said. “We have three kids who will take any shot to win the game. It was one of those deals where we had to keep our discipline.”
If the Hurricanes hope to leave John Paul Jones Arena victorious on Thursday night in Charlottesville, they’ll need to regain the type of focus that has vaulted the team to a 15-3 record through their first 18 games of the season.
“I think for this particular match-up, mentally and emotionally, we have to be very disciplined,” Coach Meier said. “We have to be very aware of our possessions and make sure we’re generating and getting our quick strikes.”
Though the Cavaliers boast only a 2-3 record through their first five conference games, they already have an impressive pedigree under Joanne Boyle. The first-year head coach, whose team ranks first in the ACC in turnover margin (+8.79) and second in scoring defense (52.6 points per game), presents a new type of planning challenge for an old friend in Katie Meier.
“Coach Boyle and I are really close. She’s smart. She’s going to play to the strengths of the team,” Coach Meier said. “They don’t have the depth to get up and down the court with high-octane possessions, so they take care of the ball well.”
The Cavaliers boast two of the conference’s Top-25 scorers in guards Ariana Morrer and Ataira Franklin, each averaging 12.4 points per game. But the Virginia gameplan will be no doubt focused on the defensive end, where the Cavs will need to figure out a way to stop the high-scoring Hurricane tandem of Riquna Williams (16.7 points per game) and Shenise Johnson (16.2), along with one of the most talented supporting casts in the conference.
“I think it’s going to be a high-octane offense verse a slow-down defense,” Coach Meier said. “They play a really smart, disciplined possession game. We’re going to have to be a lot smarter with our shot selection than we were at the end of that Florida State game.”
It’s a safe bet that Coach Meier’s Hurricanes will come prepared with a gameplan on Thursday night. After four games in eleven days, the Canes have had three days of rest and preparation for their next ACC foe.
Against then-No. 5 Maryland, it was Williams who stole the show with a 34-point performance. On the road in Tallahassee, Johnson scored 24 points, becoming the fourth Hurricane to ever eclipse the 2,000-point barrier. With two of the premier talents in college basketball on her side, Coach Meier knows anything can happen with the right type of focus.
“Shenise is just the most unbelievable competitor, and Riquna has incredible basketball instincts,” Coach Meier said. “They can definitely score when we need them to, but that’s the difference this year. They’re letting the game come to them a little bit more and contribute in every possible way.”