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Courtside Blog: UM 96, Duke 95 (F)

The frantic finish is over. Duke is done making three-pointers. And the Hurricanes have the big victory coach Frank Haith was looking for. Perhaps, not only for this 2008 season and his team's NCAA tournament hopes -- but the kind you can brag to potential program-changing recruits about.

The ending wasn't pretty. Miami nearly let a 20-point lead with 13:36 remaining slip through its fingers. How mad would Hurricanes fans be today if Duke had come back to win Wednesday? But as it turned out, Jack McClinton's free throws with 1.6 seconds left was just enough cushion to get the Canes past the country's fifth-ranked men's basketball team.

"We knew the first five minutes of the second half were going to be key," Haith said. "Duke traditionally -- that's what they do. The first five minutes of both halfs, they really get after you. I told the team be prepared for them to get after us. I thought we handled that part of the second half really well. We attacked them."

How special was the win for the Canes? At UM, beating a team ranked in the top five has only happened three times. Once under Leonard Hamilton in 1999 when the Canes went on the road to beat second-ranked UConn and went on to finish 23-7 and make the NCAA Tournament. And way back in 1962, when Rick Barry was still playing here. The Canes knocked off No. 2 Duke then and then went on to finish 23-5 and reach the second round of the NIT tournament.

There's no question the Hurricanes benefitted from being on their home court and having a loud, supportive crowd behind it -- even though it wasn't a sellout (the boxscore says the BankUnited Center fell 330 fans short of its 7,000-seat capacity). At Duke earlier this year (where sellouts are tradition), Miami buckled under the Blue Devils loud crowd and home-cooking (The Canes were whistled for a season-high 31 fouls). Wednesday, all of that was on UM's side (Duke outfouled UM 25-24). And it made the difference. At times during the game -- especially during Miami's big 18-5 run in the second half -- I felt like I was inside the Orange Bowl for an FSU game it was so loud. For a night anyway, you felt like this might be a preview of the future. A glimpse if you will of the team and the homecourt advantage Haith says he believes the Canes can have down the road.

"When we took the job four years ago we knew the opportunity would come where you would have a Haithtop five team come play on your court," Haith said. "The atmopshere we had out there tonight was terrific. When we took the job we envisioned that was something that could happen. So, it was special to see that and special for these guys that are here on our team now to have that feeling. But we can't stop. We're still trying to build our resumé to make the NCAA tournament. There's no question this helps. But we got another big one on Saturday."

As I drove home from the stadium, I heard fans chirping on WQAM about the big-game Dwayne Collins had and how they're disappointed they hadn't seen more from Collins this season. Collins certainly had a special game -- he was 12-of-14 from the floor for a career-high 26 points. His reverse, finger-roll layups right before the half and right after the half were big time. But Canes fans have to realize Collins wasn't the only hero. Jack McClinton had 22 points -- including 17 in the second half. Brian Asbury had 12 of his 15 in the first half and helped set the tone for the Canes early with some big shots.

More than anything, Canes fans should be excited about the fact McClinton finally got the support he needed -- from someone. Usually, it's McClinton who has to do all the heroics. Wednesday, he had a supporting cast. Haith said last week he likes the fact he has a cast of characters who can play the role of No. 2 on any given night. Truth is, Collins is likely the best available guy to fill that role. He's got the best offensive skill set of any of UM's big men, not to mention the most athleticism. That's part of the reason Haith was hard on him -- even after Miami's best win under his tenure.

"Dwayne was outstanding," Haith said. "But Dwayne will tell you had one he should have dunked and he missed the layup... But he played like I think Dwayne is capable of playing. Now, we want him to go after it and have another performance like that. But he was outstanding. He was aggressive, he was attacking the rim. That's the post presence we've been wanting. That's the Dwayne we've been wanting."

Lance_hurdleMiami has five games left on its regular season schedule. It needs to win three of them to finish 8-8 in the conference (the mark Haith said last month he thought his team needed to reach to make a strong case for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid). They've got Maryland (17-10, 7-5) at 2 p.m. Saturday, a trip to Clemson (19-7, 7-5) on Wednesday night, back-to-back home games against Virginia (12-12, 2-9) on March 1 and Boston College (13-11, 4-7) on March 5th, before a regular season-ending trip to Florida State (15-12, 4-8) on March 8th. Regardless of their opponents records, finishing 3-2 won't be easy. Clemson and Maryland have both lost to the Canes recently and will be looking for payback against UM. Boston College has won 13 consecutive games in the series against the Canes. And FSU already beat UM earlier this year.

But after Wednesday, I'm sure the UM basketball bandwagon -- which piled up plenty of followers when the Canes were 12-0 -- will be all filled up again and believing Miami can at least finish 3-2. The question is, are you one of them?

Comments

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CANES BABY!

PUT ON YOUR DANCIN SHOES!!!!

GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now we jUst need to get ready for Maryland. Realistically we can win oUr last 5 and that woUld be sweet. Congrats gUys - savor this and get ready for MD.

Can't say it enUff - GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Way to go Canes. That'll be on Sports Center for days! What an awesome W!!!

Nothing better than beating Duke. Man hate Duke. I hate them almost as much as I love bein a Cane.

Go Canes!!

Great win, but it makes the FSU and NCST loses hurt that much more.

Did anyone see that kid running on the court get slammed by a security guard? I'm glad this game wasn't on national TV, as that was embarrassing.

nice, nice win this is what it's all about alot a noise tonite alot a noise!We will build on this.


WE R THE U

Optimus Cane - I saw the cop slam him on ESPN, what's up with that? Took him to the groud and didn't let up, I smell court coming??

It was necessary force...kid was resisting

That kid got slammed for no reason, take his a** to court. He should be fired.

Manny - Watch the kid get slammed rushing onto the court after the game, it looks like a cop. He should be arrested!

That kid was trying to get up! He got what he deserved.

I feel sorry for the kid that rushed the court.

As that game went down to the wire, I thought of poor Manny, who had about a half hour to write his game story. Great night, but tough night, to be a sportswriter!
by the way, if you want some UM student journalists' perspectives on the win, check out www.cnj523.wordpress.com
yes, that was a shameless promotion. Sorry Manny. Hope you don't mind.
Signed, your buddy and colleague, Michelle Kaufman

As soon as I say something on the previous Navarro blog (on baseball) about the basketball team, they go and make me stick my foot in my mouth! I love it anyway! GO CANES even though it was kind of like sloppy seconds after Duke lost to WF.

Manny, can this team win out? Toughest games are the next two against MD and at Clemson. UVA and BC are totally beatable, and we all know how every Cane feels about FSU!

ITS GREAT TO BE A MIAMI HURRICANE I SAY ITS GREAT TO BE A MIAMI HURRICANE!!!!!!!!

This place sucks. How can you not let people rush the court after a win like that? BS. Awesome game. Go Canes! NCAA's here we come!

Was driving from New Mexico to Tucson, AZ and had to listen to the game on XM Radio. I was white knuckling it past semis at 80 mph for those last few seconds until Joe Z on QAM confirmed the victory. Was wearing my Miami Northwestern t-shirt. Clearly, it's blessed.

Great day to be a Miami Hurricane!

Manny,
thanks for your continued support of basketball at the U... this is just the beginnning!
- JT

Now Terrel Pryor will recruit to UM as a basketball player.

Thank you thank you thank you - GREAT win for The U. Oh, how I hate the Dukies. I bet Dickie V was furious tonight.

Go Canes!!!

Yo Manny, can you find out if Boynton was in the house last night. Thanks

i gotta say great win by the canes. now lets just hope there is no let down after such a big win. stay strong boys. take it to the turtles

Good job manny.

Manny, you were right. The band wagon is all loaded up again. Not one question about whether Jacory Harris will hand off a lot in the Spring Game. MD on Saturday is huge, because a loss would kill the momentum, and a win would build on it.

Th poll is flawed. There should be a response for "this is a signature win, I'm not sure the Canes will make the tourney this year, but this program is on the rise and we should expect big things in the years to come."

There is no reason at all that the Canes shouldn't become a national power in basketball. Florida is a football State and Miami will assuredly always be a football town, but there is plenty of great basketball talent around here to build a perennial top 15 program. Given the choice between Clemson, Michigan State, Gonzaga, whoever else you want to throw in there outside of Duke, Carolina and maybe UCLA, who wouldn't choose to come and play hoops in Miami now that they have the right ingredients (ie arena, facilities, admin support for the coaching staff)?

There is no reason that we shouldn't expect to be able to have close to the same level of pride in our bball program as we have for the footballers and the baseball team.

I gotta say, I can't stand what these guys did to the OB, but you've got to give Shalalalalalala some credit for building the athletic department as a whole. As much as I hate to say that... I just threw up a little in my mouth in fact... it's hard to deny.

Go Canes!!

Michelle Kaufman,where did U go to high school- i knew a michelle kaufman that went to citrus,wonderin if U were the same one.

Great win tonight for the Canes-win the rest and we're in baby!

CANES fans: check this out. Looks like we've got fans in the ACC! http://todaysaccheadlines.blogspot.com/2008/02/duke-unofficial-official-injury-report.html

did U see Rick Ross in the house last night in the throwback Bears jersey, HUSTLIN'

ARTHUR BROWN'S BROTHER JUST COMMITTED TO MIAMI!! 5-STAR RUNNING BACK BRYCE BROWN!!

Great night yesterday, was at the arena. Really great to be a part of that atmosphere.

duke's three point shooting will be their undoing; a physically strong team will devour them inside and those rainbows from beyond the arc will succumb to man-to-man pressure eventually

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