They came, they saw, and they conquered.
This year for the Miami Hurricanes was one word, redemption.
After being left out of the 2015 NCAA Tournament and having to play in the National Invitational Tournament was a huge motivating chip for Miami. Following their loss in the championship game to Stanford inside of Madison Square Garden, Miami started their NCAA Tournament hopes once again and this year they fulfilled them.
Not only was Miami one of the favorites coming into the NCAA Tournament, they also were one of the first 12 teams who got invited to the dance. Ranked as a No.3 seed, Miami got one of their highest rankings in school history and they even made it all the way to the sweet 16 round after defeating Wichita State and Buffalo. Though they fell short of their goal and lost to Villanova it bitter because it would’ve marked the first time for Miami to ever reach the elite eight in program school history. That just means next year they’ve now got more aspirations to strive for.
“Hopefully, the guys we have coming can have an appreciation for what we’re doing and assimilate quickly. Hopefully, the returning guys will have learned from their experiences. Some of the success we enjoyed, they know what went into it.”
– Associate head coach Chris Caputo said.
The Miami Hurricanes might not have been able to defeat Villanova in the NCAA Tournament but they sure did set themselves up for next season regardless of how difficult the year will be.
Next season the road will be difficult because the senior leadership on this team was tremendous. The team was led by super seniors Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Tonye Jeriki. All three of them will not be a part of the roster which means head coach Jim Larranaga will have to do his due diligence and coach up his remaining players to get back to national prominence. In the ACC, there are no breaks and no days off because a missed year in recruiting could mean a major setback for a few years with programs like North Carolina, Duke and Virginia waiting in the wings.
Next year though it won’t be all doom and gloom for Miami Hurricanes fans because we’ll all be able to see point guard Ja’Quan Newton finally gets in a position where he’s the captain of the offense. For Miami fans, that’s exactly what they want to see because entering into his junior year, Newton will most likely become the focal point of the Miami offense because he’s gifted enough to handle it.
“I hope that Ja’Quan can look at his year and feel that he had a very good year, but there are so many things he’ll have to do to put himself in a position to be considered one of the good players in the [ACC]. You’ve got to go perform, and do it not just as the sixth man.”
– Chris Caputo
A lot of people don’t know what to expect from this Hurricanes team next year. However, they won’t have to wait too long because one this is for certain, come March next year, this Miami Hurricanes team will be in the tournament again.
“I’m not satisfied. I will say I’m grateful to be on this team, though. We had a great year. Our goal was not to get to the Sweet 16 and lose, so I’m definitely not satisfied with that. We have a lot of guys leaving and a lot of new guys coming in. My job is to preach the same principles to the new guys so we can have the same kind of team next year.”
– Miami Hurricanes forward Kamari Murphy
All we can say is that this program has grown to a level of national prominence and we’re proud.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey