In Miami’s victory over Houston on Friday night at the men’s NCAA tournament, it did not seem like the Hurricanes were a No. 5 seed playing the No. 1 seeded Cougars. That is because Miami was able to overcome Houston’s physicality and prevent them from succeeding in the paint.
The Hurricanes clearly made it a priority to box-out and pack the paint, and they got inspiration from an unlikely source. All it took was the team channeling the experience of being stuck in an elevator to defeat one of the best teams in the country, 89–75.
“I told them ‘To beat Houston, we’ve got to have five guys in the paint and everybody’s gotta block out and everybody’s gotta rebound,” coach Jim Larrañaga said. “ Then the guys left the meeting and got on the elevator, they packed 12 guys into the elevator and it got stuck. It took a half-hour for the firemen to get them out of there.”
When the team was playing too loose during shootaround, Larrañaga knew how to get his players to understand how tight to play.
“I just told them at today’s shootaround ‘Our defense is too stretched out, you guys got to be in the paint like you were in the elevator yesterday,’” he said.
Miami will play Texas on Sunday for a chance to advance to their first ever Final Four. Maybe they will get stuck inside another elevator for inspiration before the game.