Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Haith fond of Greensboro, tournament

GREENSBORO - A reporter who apparently was unaware of the one-game-at-a-time coaching code of ethics asked Miami coach Frank Haith this afternoon to talk about the Hurricanes’ potential ACC quarterfinal game against No. 1 North Carolina.

Problem is, Miami plays Virginia first in an opening round game at noon Friday.

Haith played along for a moment.

“Harrison Barnes is going to shoot the last shot,” said Haith, whose team lost on a pair of late baskets by Tar Heel freshman Barnes on Jan. 26 at Miami.

Then Haith stopped and smiled.

“No,” he said. “Let’s stick with Virginia right now.”

There will be a lot of talk this week about how the ACC tournament isn’t what it used to be, and much of it is true. The economy, the emergence of the NCAA tournament as the sport’s can’t-miss event and the introduction of teams without a historical connection to the event all hurt the ACC tournament.

But when Haith talks, it’s clear that this event means a lot to him. He grew up in Burlington and has spoken fondly in the past about growing up with teachers in school following the tournament while class was going on.

In his seventh season as Miami’s coach, Haith said he’s “living a dream.”

“I have a lot of positive vibes being here in North Carolina, and particularly in Greensboro,” Haith said.

A year ago, after being seeded No. 12 for the tournament, Haith’s Hurricanes surprised No. 5 seed Wake Forest and No. 4 seed Virginia Tech to reach the semifinals. Haith said that team overcame a key injury to forward Dwayne Collins and rode the enthusiasm of young players with suddenly larger roles to score the upsets.

With an 18-13 record and the No. 9 seed in the tournament, the Hurricanes are looking to duplicate last season’s success.

“Hopefully we can take some momentum into this year,” said Miami center Reggie Johnson.

No one would enjoy it more than Haith if they did.  

Ken Tysiac