Why My Team Didn’t Win the Championship: Miami Hurricanes

Why My Team Didn’t Win the National Championship This Year: Miami

As the infamous coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” In the 2016 Sweet Sixteen matchup between the University of Miami and Villanova, defense was in fact the name of the game. The Canes fell to the Wildcats with a score of 69-92, knocking them out of the tournament and snatching away any chance of redemption. Miami approached the game with the mindset that they could out-offense senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono and the Wildcats. The first half of the game was marked by swings of momentum that left the Canes’ plan of overpowering offense alive. Villanova was the first to soar with a 14-3 run on Miami. However, the Canes were quick to answer with a 12-0 run, surpassing the Wildcats. This was one of few leads the team would have all game until they ultimately fell to the 2016 National Champions.

Miami didn’t win the national championship because they lacked a team united behind a strong defensive effort. Sheldon McLellan of Miami led all scorers with 26 points. However, he was one of only two players from the losing team that scored in double figures. When shots are not falling and the offensive effort is subpar, a great team would turn to their defense to acquire more possessions. Being simply a good team, Miami failed to do so. And when Villanova, the opposing team, is averaging 1.58 points per possession, this became Miami’s fatal flaw.

Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter so simply stated midway through the second half that “Villanova’s winning this game because of second chances.” Villanova out-rebounded Miami 27-17. This stat alone should have been enough to ignite a fire in Coach Jim Larrañaga. With players such as Tonye Jekiri and Ebuka Izundu, towering at 7’ and 6’10”, there should be no reason to be outrebounded by a team such as Villanova. The difference between the two teams came down to heart and the will to win.

Due to a slow rebuilding season between 2014 and 2015, many people underestimated the University of Miami’s basketball team. Backed with a strong athletic program and coach, the Canes were able to go into the NCAA tournament with a successful season and winning record of 26-7. Despite their early tournament and season successes, Miami was unable to produce a defense-minded performance in their Sweet Sixteen match up with Villanova. They fell to the Wildcats by a wide margin that did not at all depict the quality of game played in the KFC YUM! Arena that night. Defense wins games. Defense, or a lack there of, is the reason why Miami didn’t win the national championship.


Madison Helmick

University of Miami ’20

Photo: foxsports.com

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