"The next thing I know was I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and the tape was still running."
Forget losing sleep. Anybody trying to stop Shay Doron and Kalika France would be satisfied avoiding a nightmare of a game against the Maryland freshmen guard tandem. And that's exactly what the No. 5 seeded Hurricanes (22-6) will be trying to do when they face the No. 12 Terrapins (17-12) on Sunday (7 p.m., ESPN 2) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge, La.
"It's really important that we get good defensive transition because we have to be able to control them," said Labati. "We have to make sure that they don't get too many open looks for threes. If we do a good job of slowing them in transition then I think we have a shot."
Labati should know. She went hard after Doron and France in an attempt to get them to play in Coral Gables. But Doron and France decided to sign with Maryland - and the Terrapins have benefited nicely. Maryland averaged 68 points per game, fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, behind the 5-9 Doron, who had a team-leading 13 points a contest.
Despite shooting just .320 from the floor Doron is considered the catalyst of Maryland's offense for her ability to break down the opposition's defense on the way to the basket. The 5-9 France finished the season 12th in scoring (11.7 ppg) and 8th in rebounding (6.0 rpg) in the ACC.
"Shay and Kalika are extremely quick, but I think what they do best is get their teammates involved," said Labati. "We can't overplay them in any aspect of the game. I feel very confident that we've prepared to the point we can do a good job on them."
With Doron and France looking to run at every opportunity the Hurricanes will also have to keep the Terrapins off the boards. Miami is hoping they can control the battle in the paint in order to keep the Terrapins from making it a track meet.
"They might have a lot of 6-3, 6-4 players, but they also have depth," said UM senior forward Chanivia Broussard, who leads the Hurricanes in rebounding with 6.1 per game. "But we're not taking anything for granted - this is the NCAAs."
UM sophomore guard Tamara James doesn't sound too concerned, either.
"The coaches have really gotten after us in practice," says James, averaging a team-leading 16.6 points per game. "But I'm just excited to be playing, no matter who it is."
Should Miami win they would play the winner of the LSU-Austin Peay game March 23 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The Tigers (23-7), who lost in the 2003 regional finals to Texas, has three starters averaging double-figure points, including guard Seimone Augustus. The sophomore guard leads the Tigers with 18.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. LSU will enter the tournament shooting 46.8 percent from the floor. Austin Peay (23-7), the defending Ohio Valley champion, has held the opposition to 37.9 percent on the year.
With victories in the first and second rounds, respectively, the Hurricanes would advance to the West Regional in Seattle where No. 1 seed Texas (28-4), No. 2 Purdue (27-3) or No. 3 Georgia (22-9) could be waiting. But the Hurricanes won't have a chance to advance that far if they don't contain Doron and France.
"It would be nice to shut them down completely," said Labati. "But if we limit their opportunities to score we have a great chance of winning the game."
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