The way coach Katie Meier screamed and waved her arms in the first half Friday night, you never would have guessed that her 24th-ranked University of Miami women’s basketball team was on its way to a 77-24, season-opening home win against the University of North Florida.
It was the lowest point total ever scored against the Hurricanes by an NCAA opponent. The previous low was 26 points by Bethune-Cookman on Jan. 25, 1990. The Ospreys shot 14 percent for the night — 7 of 50. The Hurricanes outscored them 42-4 in the paint. All 11 players on the UM roster scored.
And yet, Meier was downright angry at halftime with her team leading 36-12. She thought her players looked flat, and let them know by doing something she rarely does during intermission. She lowered her voice.
“Halftime wasn’t pretty,” Meier said. “You guys know me well enough to know I’m a passionate coach, but they didn’t get my passion at halftime because if they’re not going to play with passion, I’m not going to coach with passion. So, it was a heck of a shift coming out. I thought second half we played more like the team I’ve seen every day in practice and recognized. It wasn’t about our opponent [Friday night], it was about our identity and figuring it out.”
And she wasn’t done.
“It’s going to be a long journey this season. We’ve got to grow up real quick. There was a lot of nodding at halftime. By the time the coaches got into the locker room, the players had already written comments on the board. They expected the Vesuvius eruption and they didn’t get one. I just dropped my voice low and I was like, ‘I don’t understand why you work hard every day and why you have 28 practices and wake up at 6 a.m. to go to the weight room.’ You got 29 guaranteed opportunities to put this uniform on, let’s see what you’re made of.”
The Canes, who lost graduated stars Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams, responded. Michelle Woods, who was 1 of 4 for two points in the first half, finished with 19 on 7-of-11 shooting, including 5 of 7 from three-point range. Morgan Stroman added 17 points and eight rebounds. Pepper Wilson had 10.
“If I set my standards lower and don’t keep putting pressure on them, I’ll get what I’m asking for,” Meier said. “I want to be a Top 25, top 15 team, and if we can play hard every second, we might even get higher than that. I’m not going to settle and take a step back and be patient because they’re young.”
UM plays at Richmond on Monday and returns home for a Nov. 18 game against No. 20 Tennessee, which lost 80-71 on Friday to Chattanooga in the Vols’ first game in the post-Pat Summitt era. The legendary coach retired in April with early-onset dementia.