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Miami Makes Adjustments, Looks Ahead to North Florida

Miami Makes Adjustments, Looks Ahead to North Florida

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – For the Miami women’s basketball team, stepping onto the court for the first time in 266 days was a surreal experience. Wednesday’s game against Jacksonville marked the first time that the team was able to compete in a true game environment—in uniform, lights on and with officials.

Because of the nature of the offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were kinks to be worked out and adjustments to be made in the season opener.

“It had been a long time since we played and the first five minutes were not fun to watch,” head coach Katie Meier said. “But I liked that we kept the faith and we worked through some lineups.”

The Canes got off to a slow start on offense, shooting just 29.4 percent from the field in the first quarter. However, the team’s increased comfortability on the court as the game progressed was evident and Miami knocked down almost half (12-of-25) of its shots in the second half, marching to a 74-58 victory.

“We just had to not panic and be patient,” redshirt junior Destiny Harden said. “It was important to let the scoring come to us and to get our teammates involved. We just had to keep doing Miami things.”

Harden’s performance was one of the highlights of the season opener, as the redshirt junior tallied her first-career double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, both career bests. Stepping into a starting role this year, Harden made sure to put in the work during the offseason.

“I tried to stay away from doing the things that I am comfortable with and instead do the uncomfortable things so that I can help Miami basketball,” Harden said. “I worked on 3-pointers, coming off the ball screens and some ball handling.”

Harden will look to carry her dominance on the court into Saturday’s competition against the North Florida Ospreys, a team and staff that the Canes are very familiar with.

The Ospreys are coached by Darrick Gibbs, who spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Miami before making the move to North Florida in 2015. Furthermore, the Canes and the Ospreys faced off just a year ago, with Miami earning a 78-55 win.

While North Florida returns its leading scorer in Jazz Bond, the Ospreys lost three of their five starters, including a significant portion of their rebounding efforts. North Florida enters Saturday’s contest at 0-1 on the season after falling to No. 6/8 NC State , 93-65, on Nov. 25.

Despite posting a 5-0 record against North Florida during her tenure as the Miami head coach, Meier knows that there are still some things that need to be cleaned up before Saturday.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever coached a team that has given up so many points in the paint like we did against Jacksonville,” Meier said. “We need to clean up that effort and there are definitely still adjustments we need to make on offense without Mykea [Gray].”

With just two days in between games, the adjustments will be rapid and it will be on the players to execute come gameday.

Tipoff time at the Watsco Center is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday and the game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.