Even if you were temporarily blinded by Miami’s choice of footwear, you couldn’t help but see that this team is ready to go out and get the brass ring.
Durand Scott went off for a very efficient 21 points in an easygoing 78-49 dismantling of the Pacific Tigers, hitting 60 percent of his shots from the floor and all of his free throws. Shane Larkin – son of Baseball Hall of Famer Barry – was no slouch either, going for ten points, nine assists and three steals from the point guard position.
If nobody else on the team managed to get into double figures, it was only because head coach Jim Larranaga turned to the bench early, allowing his reserves ample opportunity to soak in the glory of the NCAA tournament. Team-wide experience has been an oft-discussed concern for the ACC double-champs, who last went to the Big Dance in 2008 under Frank Haith.
Larranaga will always be known as the man who shocked the world by taking the George Mason Patriots to the NCAA Final Four in 2006. He appears to be attempting to show us all that he’s just a damn good coach, and not some kind of Cinderella oddity. All season long, he’s shown a real knack for corralling a bunch of talented athletes into an honest-to-goodness team, something we’ve seen other power-conference schools struggle with.
The Hurricanes advance to face the winner of the Illinois-Colorado matchup that will play out later today. From what we’ve seen of Miami today, they look like a near-lock to power through to the Elite Eight. One early win may provide the confidence this youthful team needs to make it happen.
However, if the shoes had anything to do with it, the ‘Canes had better look out. Illinois is rocking the orange highlighter look today, as well.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.