Ah, the out-of-town Q&A is back. There really wasn’t a good way to do it with Boston College, since it sure doesn’t seem like a single person is covering the Eagles on a regular basis right now.
The same is not true of Miami, and beat writer Manny Navarro has kindly put up with my requests for a basketball-related exchange of questions despite the pending arrival of a national holiday Signing Day next week.
Seriously, check out his Eye on the U blog – it’s definitely a different world in Florida regarding the football/basketball split and just how celebrated Signing Day really is.
Anyway, good guy that he is, Navarro agreed to swap questions for the second time in three weeks. Here’s his take on Jack McClinton’s homecoming, Miami’s frustration with close losses and coach Frank Haith’s future.
1. Do you get the sense that a game against Maryland – not far from where he grew up, though hardly the only big school to not give him a sniff coming out of high school – has any added meaning for Jack McClinton?
MN: Jack definitely gets up for games when his family is around. Against Ohio State (before he was ejected for the slap), he was a perfect four-for-four from three-point range in the early moments of the game. Why was he so motivated? He had promised his parents he was going to score 72 points in the game (the age in which his grandparents had died this past summer) in front of a national TV audience. He looked pretty motivated his last time out when his parents came to watch him at Kentucky. I think he scored 20 points in the first half. I would expect this to be an emotional game as well.
2. When these teams last met, Miami added to Maryland’s trail of close losses. It’s only gotten worse for the Terrapins, but Miami’s lost back-to-back overtime games. Is there a little frustration mounting after losing three of the last four?
MN: There definitely is some frustration because Miami knows the schedule only gets tougher for them from here. After Maryland, Miami has Wake Forest at home, Duke on the road and North Carolina at home. All three of those have been ranked No. 1 in the country this year at one point or another. Miami is almost looking at this game Saturday as a must-win, especially on the heels of those two tough losses.
3. While rumblings grow larger in the Baltimore/D.C. area and more Maryland fans are grumbling about coach Gary Williams’ future, it would seem the opposite is probably true in Coral Gables. How well regarded is Frank Haith at this stage of his stay at Miami and how impressive is the job he’s done during his tenure?
MN: Three times this week I’ve seen Frank Haith’s name pop up on the blogosphere as a potential coaching candidate at big-time programs. Haith said he loves it in South Florida and UM’s brass is thrilled to have him. They’ve given him three raises in five years here. But Haith knows Miami is not basketball country. He’s a North Carolina guy and big-time basketball man at heart and I think the moment a great job opens up it is going to be hard for Miami to keep him.