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Hurricanes Weathering a Storm
Phil Taylor
February 03, 1992
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?
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February 03, 1992

Hurricanes Weathering A Storm

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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?

Besides, the 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 morning.

Hamilton, who 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."

First, Hamilton 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.

Miami doesn't 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 Jim Calhoun.

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," he says.

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.

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