March 15, 2011 — Coral Gables — What we have known for over a month but weren’t able to say until Monday night has officially been confirmed.
The University of Miami women’s basketball team is going dancing.
The Hurricanes learned Monday night at a selection show party on campus that they have earned a No. 3 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament’s Dayton Region.
“A three seed is so meaningful,” head coach Katie Meier said to a standing room only crowd after the announcement Monday night. “It is such a leap for our program.”
Watching the live selection special on ESPN alongside some of their closest supporters at the Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center, the Hurricanes saw their name and seed come up at 7:25 p.m.
“I’m super excited,” guard Riquna Williams said. “For one we have never been here so being a three seed means a lot to us. We have worked so hard for it. “
Miami (27-4) will be facing No. 13-seed Gardner-Webb (23-10) in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday in Charlottesville, Va. The winner of that game will face the winner of the match-up between No. 6-seed Oklahoma and No. 11-seed James Madison.
Miami’s No. 3 seed is the second-lowest seed in program history behind the No. 2 seed earned by the 1991-92 Hurricanes, who reached the Sweet 16 that season. The NCAA appearance is the seventh in school history. Miami is 2-6 all-time in NCAA play, with the last win coming on March 17, 1993 against St. Peters.
“It is an absolute statement to the amount of progress we made in one year when you don’t even make the tournament a year before and then you get a three-seed,” Meier said. “I would like to do research on if it has happened before.”
While most of the UM students are on spring break this week, the Hurricanes have been busy preparing for the tournament, a place the program hasn’t been to since 2004.
“We went into this thing saying it is going to be about Miami,” Meier said. “It is going to be about if we are playing well. That is who we want to focus on. The No. 1 team we had to scout was Miami and we did that before the selection show.”
But Monday night, it was a time to celebrate not only what has been accomplished, but what lies ahead.
“We earned it,” Meier said. “We earned our regular season and the people that we beat – not who we played but who we beat – was very impressive.”
The Hurricanes weren’t one of those teams watching nervously to see if they were getting in or not. Those nerves were calmed a long time ago. Miami knew it was in. It was just a matter of who, where and when.
Now we know. Miami will be playing Gardner-Webb on Sunday.
“They are all tough teams,” Meier said of the 64-team field. “Nothing is easy. You can’t sit there and say, ‘Oh, well I hope that is an easy six or an easy 11.’ They are all tough. We have to play our best basketball in order to advance.”
They’ve achieved just about everything there was to achieve during the regular season, from winning a regular season ACC title to Meier and Shenise Johnson bringing home ACC Coach and Player of the Year honors.
Those accomplishments won’t be forgotten now, but they they’ll certainly be pushed aside.
For the first time in a long time, Miami has a serious shot at doing big things in the dance.
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