Senior Day is always special for University of Miami coach Katie Meier, who is tough as nails on the outside, but admits she can get quite sentimental when it comes to bidding farewell to her players.
This Sunday may require a few extra tissues.
Seniors Adrienne Motley, Jessica Thomas, Nigia Greene and Keyona Hayes will be honored before the Hurricanes’ 1 p.m. season-finale against Georgia Tech at the Watsco Center. Between them, Motley, Thomas and Hayes have scored more than 3,775 points, just the second trio in school history to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
Under their leadership, the Canes (20-7, 9-6 ACC) are ranked No. 17 heading into Sunday’s game, and poised to not only play in the NCAA Tournament, but perhaps even host in the first round.
“This particular group of seniors has played in so many big-time basketball games, they’ve really steadied this program,” Meier said. “Averaging 20 or so wins, they’ve kept us relevant nationally, in the Top 25, postseason...just a special group.
“They’re making their marks in the record books, which makes me happy. And then it’s the people they are, how much they help you as a coach. Certain kids just sustain you, keep your passion lit, keep you wanting to keep that laptop open on the plane a little longer to teach them a little bit more.”
The Canes have been ranked in the Top 25 all season, and reached 20 wins for the seventh time in eight years. But their best game is yet to come, says Meier.
“I still don’t feel like we’ve played that great game yet,” she said. “Certain players have played very well, but there is that magical night waiting out there when we’re all going to show up at the same time, and play the best to our capacity.”
She is encouraged by the team’s energy in recent days, a time of the season when many college basketball players hit a wall.
“The overall feeling on this team right now is excitement,” Meier said. “Some teams in February, March don’t’ have that. We have a great pulse right now, a really strong heartbeat.”
And no doubt the seniors’ hearts will be beating a little faster on Sunday.