With all of the changes occurring this season for the men's basketball program at the University of Miami: the move to the ACC and new Head Coach Frank Haith, why wouldn't there be excitement for the upcoming season?
Haith brought just what the UM basketball program needed, a fresh and exciting atmosphere to the first practice of the season. So far Haith likes what he sees out of his team. Although there was early rust to shake off, Haith hopes to build on the energy that was in the practice.
"I wanted them to know that it was a good first practice," Hath said. "That type of energy, we can't just have because it was the first practice, we got to build on it. I thought we got better as the practice went along. At first they were still trying to find themselves, and as practice kept going, I think we understood better. I was pleased for the most part."
The emphasis of today's practice was on the basics, such as defense and the fundamentals.
"Defensively we have to get a little better. That was the emphasis of the day. The biggest thing was putting things in, and just seeing what would happen when we put defense on it, and how we would execute. I told our coaches that defensively I wanted our guys to get after us. When you put offense in, it's tough to execute when people get on you. It's easy to execute dummy offense. But once they get in there and take things away, we have to learn how to react. Our execution was not bad for a first day."
As expected, high flying guards Guillermo Diaz and Rob Hite stood out amongst the guards. Diaz and Hite are the only returning players to average double figures in points last season.
"I was very pleased with both guys," said Haith. "Rob was excellent today. Guillermo had his moments. They play well together. They did a good job of looking to each other, which I think is key for our success."
While everyone expected Hite and Diaz to play well, the surprise of practice might have been how well the post players played. Today the big men as a unit considerably outplayed the perimeter players. Haith is still trying to feel out which post combo suits the team best.
"Our post players are four guys: Will Frisby, Gary Hamilton, Glenn Batemon, and Anthony King. I thought that Raymond Hicks had a good day today too. With those guys we will try and figure out the best combination. At the beginning of practice, our big guys were more ready. Our post guys executed a lot better than our perimeter guys."
Known as a strong recruiter, Haith feels he can build a strong program at the University of Miami. He believes he must convince the Florida blue chippers to stay in state. Haith thinks that with the move to the ACC, UM will become an even more attractive basketball school.
"We've got to continue to take care of our state. That has been a focus of ours in our recruiting efforts. People have been very responsive to what we're all about. It's about communicating and getting Miami basketball out there. I think it will have even more of an effect once we play in the ACC."
Most experts and publications are expecting a turbulent year for the team this year. Haith does not worry about what others think. He is excited about the opportunity to get the program moving in the right direction.
"All we can control is what we do. We can't control what people are saying or what people expect. We can control how we play and the way we play. We go out and compete and the wins will take care of itself."
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