The University of Miami football team’s wild finish against Duke has dominated headlines this week, but the men’s and women’s basketball teams are getting some attention as they head into their opening exhibition games on Wednesday.
The women play at 4 p.m. against Nova Southeastern, with the men following at 7 p.m. against Dowling (N.Y.) College, coached by John Mateyko, the first recruit of UM coach Jim Larrañaga 39 years ago at American International College.
Both Hurricanes teams received votes in the AP Preseason Top 25 polls. The men’s team is picked fifth in the ACC Preseason Poll and the women are picked sixth. But that is not what has Larrañaga most excited.
“I think more respect is our number of season tickets we’ve sold,’’ he said. “The word’s gotten around. If you don’t get your tickets now, you may not be able to get a ticket day of the game.’’
A record 5,400 season tickets have already been sold, and only 650 remain. The home schedule includes games against Florida (Dec. 8), Princeton (Dec. 29), Syracuse (Jan. 2), Florida State (Jan. 9), Duke (Jan. 25), Notre Dame (Feb. 3), and Louisville (Feb. 27).
The Canes return almost everyone from the team that reached the NIT championship game last April, plus they should get a big defensive lift from Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy.
UM women’s coach Katie Meier is very optimistic about her team, which made the second round of the NCAA Tournament last spring. The addition of Dutch freshmen Laura Cornelius and Emese Hof has Meier especially excited.
“They don’t play like freshmen,” Meier said, adding that she was floored when Cornelius and Hof approached her to suggest a new wrinkle in a play. “They were like, ‘We ran this in Spain at the European championships,’ and I was like, ‘Wow!’ Freshmen offering ideas. They will make us a better team.”
She also expects a big season from Jessica Thomas, Adrienne Motley, Michelle Woods and Keyona Hayes, who was the team’s leading rebounder two years ago but missed last season with an ankle injury.