It didn’t hurt that Miami shot 20.7 percent the first half and that Marquette, up 29-16 at halftime, made 8 of 10 to start the second half and pushed the lead to 51-30. Miami was forced to press and, as Larranaga noted, that’s just not their game.
“We’re not Louisville or VCU,” he said. “That’s not the way we’re built. But we had no choice. When we have to press with 16 minutes left in the game, that usually means we’re in trouble.”
Marquette is one of those teams that plays with a chip on its shoulder and uses that chip for motivation. Coach Buzz Williams is the unnoticed-coach-who-can, taking his team to three straight Sweet 16’s (and now the Elite Eight) with very few people noticing — until now — just how good a coach he is. The Golden Eagles finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Big East but were a No. 3 seed in this tournament, while the two teams they tied with—Louisville and Georgetown — were a No. 1 and a No. 2. Williams made sure his players knew coming in here all about a story on a national Web site that rated his team 16th among the 16 teams still playing.
That had nothing to do with the outcome of this game. Marquette was ready to play and Miami wasn’t. It was really as simple as that.
“Sometimes it’s just not your night,” Larranaga said after talking about how proud he was of his team for winning both the ACC regular season and tournament titles. “Our hotel was a mile-and-a-half from here and it took us 45 minutes to get through all the traffic.”
A while later, standing in a hallway outside his locker room, he shrugged. “That bus ride no affect on our preparation for the game,” he said, just as he had said in the interview room a few minutes earlier. “It was just kind of symbolic. It’s a shame for the season to end this way but in a way, I could almost see it coming all week.”
And if he had any doubts, they went away after Marquette’s second basket of the night.
Almost two hours later, with the score 67-46 and a little more than two minutes left, Scott walked to the foul line. Suddenly, the telscreen above the court switched to a tape of Indiana’s Keith Smart hitting the shot that beat Syracuse in the national championship game 26 years ago.
No doubt that tape was supposed to be cued up before the start of the second game between Indiana and Syracuse. Someone pressed a wrong button.
Then again, maybe not.
For more by John Feinstein, go to www.washingtonpost.com/feinstein.