Katie Meier’s theme for this University of Miami women’s basketball season can be summed up in one short sentence: There are no do-overs.
The Hurricanes, ranked No 14 in the AP poll heading into Friday’s road opener at No. 19 Kentucky, were upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last spring by South Dakota State. Meier wants her players to remember that game, and, more important, their comments afterward.
At the first preseason meeting, Meier showed a video montage of the post-game press conference from that NCAA Tournament loss. It included Adrienne Motley saying, `If there were just 30 seconds more in the game, we’d have won,” and Jessica Thomas lamenting that she didn’t have one more shot.
“Those are regrets, and I wanted that fresh in their minds,” Meier said. “I probably overused that theme, but I wanted them to remember, `There are no do-overs.’
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“I feel like basketball’s a very forgiving sport. You can say, `I got next’ or `I turned it over, but I’ll steal it back.’ There are ways to forget, 90 possessions to fix things, unlike soccer, which is the least-forgiving sport. Give up one bad goal, you lose the World Cup. We almost were too forgiving in that last game. I tried to put that pressure on the team early.”
As if that isn’t enough to motivate the Hurricanes, they open the season at Kentucky and on Dec. 1 travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face No. 7 Ohio State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
“The pressure is there in our non-conference schedule,” Meier said. “I don’t have to create fake pressure. We’re playing at Kentucky and at Ohio State. What else do I need to say?”
Four starters and 10 players are back from last year’s team, which went 24-9 last season, and 10-6 in the ACC. The Hurricanes are projected to finish fifth in the conference this season, with four Top 25 teams ahead of them – No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 5 Louisville, No. 12 Florida State and No. 14 (tied with UM) Syracuse.
Senior captains Motley and Thomas combined for 27 points per game last season and make up one of the top backcourts in the ACC. Another senior, forward Keyona Hayes, is expected to play a big role, as are returning sophomore Dutch duo Emese Hof and Laura Cornelius, and Erykah Davenport.
Shaneese Bailey, a 5-9 transfer who averaged 16 points at FAU, and Auburn transfer Neydja Petithomme are eligible to play. And watch for Danish freshman Sarah Mortensen.
“I think the first game is going to be a great test for us to see where we are right now,” said Cornelius. “I think it’s better to face better teams early so you already know how it feels to play great teams so you don’t have surprises when you start ACC play.”
Motley, a two-time All-ACC guard, agreed: “We’re ready. What a great way to start off the season with a Top 25 matchup. We’ve been watching them on film and it should be a very exciting game.”