Coach Haith breaks down BC

Miami basketball coach Frank Haith sat down with the media to break down the team's next opponent, Boston College. was there, so read on to see what he's talking about.

Q: What challenges does playing BC present?

A: They were young last season, they were a good team. We played them early in the year, they were 3-1 in league play when we played them. They got in a rut and couldn't win tight ball games late in the year. When they were picked 11th (in the Coaches pre-season ACC poll) I really did not understand that. I knew they'd be a good team.

Q: Them being picked to do so poorly in the pre-season must have fueled them this season.

A: I can't sit up there and tell you that doesn't fuel the fire. They have a great leader in Tyrese. He's something. He is a handful to deal with.

Q: What did you think of their win over UNC?

A: They're a talented team. You saw a team that was very driven, very focused. They took care of the ball against Carolina, which you have to do. They played with some toughness.

Q: Does that win get your players attention?

A: We know it's a league game and everybody's going to be very good. We have no bad teams in our league. We really don't. They had a good win, but we would have been ready for them anyway.

Q: Are you still fighting that national perception of Miami? You're 11-3 and are not even in the top 30?

A: It's something we can't control. If you'd have told me we'd be 11-2 non-league with one being to the No. 2 team in the country and the other without Jack McClinton, I'd be excited about that. We went up and won convincingly at St. John's and they beat Notre Dame the next week. All I hear when we beat them is `Oh, you're supposed to beat them.' We then just beat a top 10 team in Notre Dame. We beat Kentucky and they won nine in a row until they lost to Louisville. I know we're not going to panic because it's the ACC and it's a long season. We were 2-6 in the ACC last year, and still made the NCAA Tournament. There's stuff we have to fix and get it right, and we will.

Q: Where is this team right now playing level-wise?

A: We're getting better. Playing three games in five days last week was good for us. Are we as sharp as we need to be? No. But we made some strides. We're going to be better as the year progresses on. Going into league play we're in as good a shape as we can be. Lance Hurdle was out the early part of the year; you can see him getting himself back together, and he's a key guy for us.

Q: Do you still see an 8-8 ACC record being good enough to make the NCAA Tournament?

A: I think our league is tougher, is better. I think if you have no bad losses in the league we're in and are able to get eight wins with our strength of schedule which right now is in the top 10, and our RPI is in the top 20, I believe you get in the tournament. But you want to try and win nine, 10, 11 games. We'll get six or seven teams in the tournament this year. I really believe that.

Q: You don't want to start 0-2 in the league.

A: No. We were 1-3 last year. No one wants to get off to a bad start. You have to try and win some games on the road. You have to protect your home court. It's a tough place to get a win. We haven't done well there. It's going to be a great win if we go there and win. We know that.

Q: Talk about Rice.

A: He's hurt us. He's always hurt us. Last year he had 18 in the first half here. He's a chore. He's so good with the ball. He's got great pace with his game, so he gets you off balance. Their system, they operate in tight quarters. He just doesn't need a lot of space and he can get his shot off. The biggest thing with Tyrese - you have to get him to play some defense because offensively he's going to be a chore for anybody. He's a tough matchup.

Q: Who else does BC have that causes problems?

A: I love Rakim. I think (Rakim) Sanders is terrific. He's a big guard that can do it inside and out, is perfect for their system. Their two perimeter guys are really good. Corey gets offensive rebounds, transition buckets. I like both those guys. They're tough. Josh Southern is a big body who played a lot for them at the end of last year.

Q: Is this year's BC team more finesse than power?

A: They can run. They play athletically. They also have that rugged style. Their offensive style is screening and post-ups. They're a good transition team. If you take bad shots, quick shots, they're going to run on you. And BC's always been like that. They don't have the depth of big bodies they've had in the past, but they still have some size.

Q: You haven't won at BC since you've been coach at UM. What makes them so tough?

A: Since we've been here we haven't. We've changed hotels, eaten at different places. I don't know. I haven't worn the same suit. I'm trying to figure it all out. We have to figure out something different to do to break it. It's the farthest difference we travel. We're going to go JetBlue this time. That might help. It's cold, is a little different. We're going to make it work, will try some different things this time.

Q: How is Jimmy Graham coming along?

A: It's one of those things. I don't know. Last game we wanted to play him some just to get rust off him and he was really sore after the game. It's a wait and see type thing. I don't know when he we will be back to full strength. It's a bruise. It's one of those irritating things that if you don't let it heal, keep hitting it, it's going to come back. It needs time.

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