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Looking to Make More History

Looking to Make More History

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It’s a moment that still makes her pause and reflect.

Before the Hurricanes took the court for their Elite Eight matchup against LSU last March, Hurricanes head coach Katie Meier and her team gathered for their traditional pre-game meal.

There, together, Miami’s players and coaches watched a video compilation of messages from more than a few alumni of the program, all of whom sent their good wishes to the Hurricanes before the biggest game in program history.

But the video was more than just encouragement.

It was a challenge of sorts, too.

“They demanded them to play well,” Meier recalled. “And the message was so … I just felt so proud as a coach. … Most of them [in the video], I’d coached. But there were a lot of them that I didn’t coach that just loved this program and were like, ‘Listen, we were on the Sweet 16 team. You need to win this game. You need to make history for Miami.’ It wasn’t just roses and a little heart balloon. It was like, ‘Get this done, ladies.’ I get goosebumps now just remembering it. It was right at the pre-game meal, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the most powerful thing.’”

The Hurricanes ultimately came up just short in their first-ever Elite Eight game later that day, falling to eventual national champion LSU.

But they did make history, advancing as far as they did in the NCAA Tournament. Now after their memorable run, they’re say they’re ready to take their next step forward as a program.

“Obviously, the run last year was incredible. We made history and I still carry that with me. That’s something I’m going to use to bring to this year,” said junior guard Jasmyne Roberts. “Knowing we did it before, so it can be done again. Even though we’re a new team, we’re still returning people who experienced it and can bring that confidence into the season coming up and apply it. So, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The Hurricanes will have their first opportunity to start moving toward that goal on Thursday morning when they open the season against Jacksonville at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables.

And every expectation is that Roberts, one of the breakout stars from last season’s tournament run, will be called on to help Miami move forward, both on the court and in the locker room.

The Jacksonville native, who averaged 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in Miami’s wins in the tournament and earned a spot on the Greenville-2 All-Region Team, is one of three juniors, along with Ja’Leah Williams and Lashae Dwyer back for the Hurricanes this season.

The tight-knit trio arrived in Coral Gables three years ago and have, during their time at Miami, contributed in various ways, including during last year’s March run.

But Meier has made it no secret that she expects all three of them to take on bigger roles this season, especially after the departures of Miami’s two leading scorers, Destiny Harden and Haley Cavinder.

Williams, who like Roberts started last season, averaged 6.6 points and 3.1 rebounds, while Dwyer averaged 5.9 points and 2.3 rebounds for the Hurricanes, who finished last season with a 21-13 mark.

“I keep telling them ‘You’re seniors twice You’re going to be seniors twice,’” Meier joked. “They’re my rocks. I’m like, ‘Who would you call?’ and you’re right, it’s those three. They’ve been kind of waiting to lead, waiting to see what the team needs from them. But you know, if we have a flat practice or something’s going wrong, I’m always blaming those three and they know it. It’s always going to be their fault until the other ones come around.”

And while Roberts, Williams and Dwyer may be three of the Hurricanes’ returning veterans, several newcomers are expected to step up and make a difference, too, including transfers Shayeann Day-Wilson, Lemyah Hylton, Jaida Patrick and Ally Stedman.

Day-Wilson and Patrick bring with them ACC experience, after both spent two seasons at Duke. Patrick, who played at Columbia last season, averaged 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds to earn All-Ivy Second-Team honors, while Day-Wilson was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2021-22 and averaged 10.2 points and 3.1 assists per game during her time at Duke.

Stedman spent two seasons at Pepperdine, where she earned a spot on the West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team in 2022 and was an All-WCC Honorable Mention honoree last season after averaging 15.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season. And Hylton is a former four-star prospect who spent a season at Arizona before joining Miami.

“You’re going to see them and be like, ‘Yep, we know why Miami wanted them so bad,’” Meier said. “They are such Miami players. They’re strong, athletic, they play multiple positions. They shoot the three, they post you up, they play with incredible competitive energy and joy. They just landed at the right school. They’re going to get a lot of playing time and they’re going to be really impactful.”

Hylton, who watched Miami’s run from afar, says it was getting to know Meier and watching the Hurricanes feisty competitiveness in March that made it feel like Miami was the place for her once she opted to enter the transfer portal.

She’s now looking forward to being part of that group that helps the Hurricanes make history yet again – this time, hopefully, on an even bigger stage.

“I think it was great. I think they were underdogs. Even when I was watching, I honestly didn’t know that they were going to do that,” Hylton said. “But being in this environment now, I’m like, ‘I see how you guys did it. You guys worked so hard, and you’re coached amazingly, so it makes sense.’ Now, I can be a part of that. And that’s just a great thing, to be able to see it from a different perspective. I saw it from the outside, now I’m on the inside and I think we’re going to do it again. And I think we’re going to win a championship this time.”