The University of Miami men’s basketball team had no time to enjoy its season-opening win over Howard because a daunting challenge looms Monday night: the No.7 Florida Gators in Gainesville.
‘To go to a tough atmosphere so early in the season, that is a great challenge for our team," redshirt junior guard Angel Rodriguez said. "We have to stay calm. Usually when you play in an atmosphere like that, guys tend to get excited and kind of go crazy a little bit. We have to talk to the young guys because I know I was excited the first time, and you get out of your game, you turn the ball over.
"But this is why you come to Miami, to play the best of the best. It’s going to be fun."
The Hurricanes have only two players back from last year’s team, and coach Jim Larrañaga is just getting to know his team. The Gators, meanwhile, are loaded and experienced.
"They have a lot of NBA-caliber talent, Kasey Hill, Eli Carter, [Michael] Frazier," Larrañaga said. "Jon Horford played at Michigan in the national-championship game, Dorian Finney-Smith is one of best rebounders in the country. They’ve got one of the four or five best coaches in the country in Billy Donovan. They’ve really got it rolling."
The Gators are coming off a 68-45 win over William & Mary. UM beat Howard 84-49 in its opener.
Finney-Smith led UF with 15 points and five rebounds, but injured his wrist in the game. He is expected to play Monday.
Florida held William and Mary to 2-of-22 shooting from three-point range.
Sheldon McClellan led the Canes with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting in the opener. Rodriguez had 16 points, four steals and three assists.
The Hurricanes are undersized this season, so Larrañaga said he is challenging all his players to be relentless rebounders.
"It’s going to test where we are physically and mentally," McClellan said. "We have to focus on ourselves and play together no matter what they’re ranked."
Monday: UM men at No. 7 UF
When/where: 7 p.m.; O’Connell Center, Gainesville.
Records: UM (1-0), UF (1-0).
TV/radio: ESPN3; WQAM 560 AM, WVUM 90.5 FM.
Noteworthy: Since the rebirth of UM basketball in 1985, Miami is 2-9 against UF. Miami lost the last game against Florida, 74-60, on March 20, 2009 in Gainesville.
UM women at Middle Tennessee St.
When/where: 8 p.m.; Murphy Center, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Records: UM (1-0), MTSU (0-1).
Radio: WMOT 89.5 FM.
Noteworthy: Last year MTSU beat the Hurricanes in Coral Gables, 61-55. The Hurricanes are coming off a 66-53 season-opening win over Oakland University.