March is just around the corner; and University of Miami basketball coach Jim Larrañaga wants his players to be as sharp as possible, so he pulled out a motivational tale from one of his favorite books — “Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
As the team prepared for Saturday’s 2 p.m. home game against Boston College, Larrañaga told them the story of the two lumberjacks who were competing for the world championship and had to saw down trees from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. When the winner is declared, the other lumberjack questions the results, saying he could not have been beaten because he sawed continuously from start to finish without a break.
The winner then reveals his secret: Every hour on the hour he stopped, rested and sharpened his saw.
“The message really being that to be at your best, you have to be sharp, and to be sharp, you need to recover from all the hard work that you put in,” Larrañaga said. After Monday night’s victory at Notre Dame, he gave the team off Tuesday and Wednesday. The Canes resumed practice Thursday, and the coach said it was an energetic, sharp workout.
Miami (19-8, 8-7 ACC) is looking for a 20th win of the season against the Eagles (16-12, 6-9 ACC), who beat the Hurricanes 72-70 two weeks ago in a game Larrañaga missed because of illness.
Here are five things to know heading into Saturday’s matchup:
Larrañaga will be on the bench this time. When the teams last played on Feb. 10 in Boston, Larrañaga was battling the flu and wound up sleeping in the locker room the entire game. It was the first time in four decades that he missed a game. He woke up to find out the Hurricanes gave up a 7-0 run to end the game.
“I’m excited to get back and be healthy this time around,” the coach said. “We’re all competitors. Coaches, we compete in everything — recruiting, for recognition, and game strategy.”
BC has the ACC’s second-leading scorer. The Eagles are led by Jerome Robinson, who ranks No. 2 in scoring in the ACC with 20.5 points per game. Along with Ky Bowman, they combined for 53 points against Miami in their last game.
Ebuka Izundu is coming off a breakout game. The UM junior center got his first season start against Notre Dame because UM coaches wanted more size and defensive rebounding. Izundu stepped up big with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He had two critical put-backs in the closing minutes.
“Buka got those interior buckets we so desperately needed,” Larrañaga said. “He’s one of our best shot blockers, and that helps us get fast breaks. He rose to the occasion, and played with a great deal of confidence. The most impressive thing is he played the final eight minutes with four fouls.”
Lykes, Newton sharing PG spot. Although senior Ja’Quan Newton started at point guard against the Irish, freshman Chris Lykes could return to the starting lineup against BC. It all depends on matchups, and Lykes may be a better fit.
Canes need more wins. Nineteen wins are rarely enough to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Canes’ chances would be greatly helped with wins in two of the remaining three games — BC, at North Carolina, home vs. Virginia Tech.
UM men vs. Boston College
▪ When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
▪ Where: Watsco Center, UM campus
▪ Records: UM (19-8, 8-7 ACC), BC (16-12, 6-9 ACC)
▪ TV/Radio: Fox Sports South, WQAM-560