For most of its
first season in the big east. Miami has felt a bit like a fraternity pledge
going through hazing—so elated at being allowed into the club that it has taken
paddlings from the brothers almost gladly. Whack! Syracuse 73, Miami 57. Whack!
George-tow 60, Miami 40. Thank you, sir, may I please have another?
blows to the Hurricanes weren't nearly as severe as had been predicted. Miami
has been beaten convincingly, but it hasn't suffered the kind of complete,
pull-out-the-record-book blowouts that many observers thought it would endure.
Even more surprising, on Jan. 14 the Hurricanes shocked then 17th-ranked St.
John's by winning 45-42 at Miami Arena for their first conference victory. And
they scared the daylights out of Boston College last week before bowing 51-50.
"I don't quite seethe light yet," says Hurricane assistant coach Gary
Tuell, "but at least we're in the tunnel."
It wouldn't have
surprised anyone if Miami (6-12 overall) had gone winless in the conference,
which is why, after the Hurricanes' victory over the Redmen, coach Leonard
Hamilton was accepting congratulatory phone calls into the wee hours of the
coached Oklahoma State from 1986-87 to '89-90 and recruited most of the players
responsible for the Cowboys' current No. 3 ranking—including Player of the Year
candidate Byron Houston—knows it will be quite awhile before the Hurricanes can
even think of such a lofty perch. He arrived in Miami with a reputation as a
coach who could sell a program to talented prospects, but he's just as
concerned with selling the Hurricanes to the city; the University of Miami has
not drawn well since basketball was revived there in 1985, after a 14-year
absence. The crowd of 4,843 at the game against St. John's was more than twice
the size of last season's average attendance. Four nights later, a
school-record 10,231 fans attended a game against No. 8 Connecticut.
"I hope fans
will have the vision to see what happened at schools like Georgia Tech,
Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Connecticut, and get in on the ground floor
here," Hamilton says. "We need people to adopt us. Maybe that's what we
need to do, start issuing adoption papers."
will probably have to discard the deliberate style he has adopted. The slower
pace has helped the Hurricanes keep scores down and games relatively close—the
win over St. John's (at halftime it was 14-12, Redmen) was the lowest-scoring
game in Big East history—but few South Floridians are going to bring their
sailboats in oft' Biscayne Bay to watch the Hurricanes amble upcourt.
figure to pick up the pace until Hamilton picks up a few more talented players;
he may have one in a new recruit, 7-foot center William Davis. While the
Hurricanes worry about becoming more competitive, Big East coaches are
concerned about their players becoming too preoccupied with the sun and sea
when they visit Miami, the only stop on the conference tour where players can
wear shorts outside the arena, too. "There's a problem getting kids to
catch the ball when they have sand on their hands," says Connecticut coach
Then there's St.
John's coach Lou Carnesecca, who's still searching for the right sun block for
the trips to Miami. "This skin hasn't been touched by sun in 30 years,"
Hamilton and the
Hurricanes are looking forward to the day when Big East teams, on venturing to
Miami, will worry about getting burned indoors as well as out.