With recent losses to Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Duke fresh in their memory, the Miami Hurricanes enter next week’s ACC Tournament with a lot left to prove. The Hurricanes were hoping to carry their momentum they had established during the middle of the season into the tournament, but recent events have put those thoughts on hold for the time being.
The Hurricanes still have a lot left to play for in the ACC Tournament when it comes to seeding and personal expectations. First and foremost, the Hurricanes must reestablish in the ACC Tournament that they can still compete with the best teams in the nation and that they can handle adversity and regain their confidence.
Momentum is a scary thing to have on your side when you enter tournament time and right now, the Hurricanes have anything but momentum on their side. What they now must do is find that winning formula that made them so successful earlier this season and continue to focus on maintaining that positive attitude and style of play that won them ballgames. The team will have plenty of opportunities to face tournament caliber teams in the ACC Tournament, so their level of competition will not be changed because of the tournament. What will be important for the Hurricanes to focus on is getting back to playing their style of basketball and how they can get back to their fundamentals and brand of basketball. If the team gets too caught up with focusing on how other teams are doing or are caught looking too far ahead at what may be in the NCAA Tournament—which they seem to have been doing over the past few games—then the team will be missing out on the present and will not be able to accurately fix their own issues.
Confidence is a tough thing to gain, but an easy thing to have shattered or weakened. The confidence of this basketball team is a little shaky right now and recent losses—albeit tough losses like the game vs. Duke—have not helped matters much and—if anything—have only made things worse. What these losses have done to the Hurricanes is exposed their weaknesses and as a result, the team has been playing as if they are trying not to lose, instead of playing to win. It may sound cliché, but the fact of the matter is that the Hurricanes are playing tentatively and are not attacking and playing fast and free like they are used to. That type of play is what made them successful in the first place and is highly dependent on confidence. A senior led team must show leadership in turning this thing around, while also preaching patience and embracing adversity because frankly, the situation they are in isn’t as dire as it may seem.
The Hurricanes still are poised to garner a top three or four seed in their region—barring more collapses—and are capable of beating any team on any night. What the team must focus on is the present and not the future. By recommitting themselves to fundamentals, their style of play and a confidence and trust in one another, the results will take care of themselves. Just because adversity has chosen to appear, doesn’t mean the whole season is going to come crumbling to the ground. There is a whole bunch of adversity waiting for every team—including the Hurricanes—at the NCAA Tournament and the team that can respond best to it, will ultimately come home with the championship.
There will be times in life—and throughout a game—that the team will not play up to their potential, have their best day or be able to have things go the way they are planned. The end to this season has not gone according to plan, we all know that; but to act like this is the end of the season is a vast overreaction. There is still a lot to play for in the ACC Tournament and further on in the NCAA Tournament. The Hurricanes must take a collective breath, shrug their shoulders and get back to playing Hurricane basketball.