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Film search

No. 2 seed Miami knows little about first-round opponent

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Posted: Friday March 12, 1999 10:37 AM

  Miami coach Leonard Hamilton hopes the Hurricanes aren't too puzzled by the Patriot League-winning Lafayette Leopards. AP

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- Only now is No. 9 Miami discovering one of the drawbacks of living among college basketball's elite: Little film on their first-round NCAA Tournament opponent.

When the Hurricanes, seeded second in the East Regional, face No. 15 seed Lafayette in Boston on Friday, they'll line up against a team that remains almost a mystery.

"The only concern I have is we don't know a lot about this team. We don't have a lot of film," guard Johnny Hemsley said Tuesday.

Last year, when the Hurricanes reached the NCAAs for the first time in 38 years, finding tape on their opponent was no problem. Miami drew UCLA, one of the game's most storied programs and a regular on television.

But with a high seed always comes an opponent from one of the NCAA's lesser conferences. This year it's the Patriot League, a conference that doesn't even give out scholarships.

Miami's solution? Go with what you know.

"What we have to do is go forward prepared to do what we do best," Miami coach Leonard Hamilton said.

For the Hurricanes, that's defense. Miami, No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage defense last season, is 13th this year after holding opponents to just 38.2 percent shooting.

"We're going to use the same approach, the same focus," Hamilton said. "We're going to run basically the same kind of drills. This is what has gotten us to this point. This is what's going to carry us forward."

Lafayette went 22-7 this season, winning the Patriot League with a 10-2 mark and sweeping through Bucknell and Colgate in the conference tournament.

"They've earned the right to be there. They're efficient and looking to move on," Hamilton said.

Though most No. 2 seeds have little problem advancing, a loss is one for the record books. Only three No. 2s have lost their first-round games -- Syracuse to Richmond in 1991, Arizona to Santa Clara in 1993 and South Carolina to Coppin State two years ago.

Hemsley didn't appear too worried about a possible upset. "If we play Hurricane basketball, I don't see us losing," he said.

But, Hamilton noted, it's the unpredictability that makes college basketball so exciting.

"You've got 64 teams, and they all got an equal opportunity. They just got go out and get the job done. You can throw out just about everything else."

Miami came within less than two minutes of pulling off its own upset last year as a No. 11 seed. The Hurricanes led UCLA 62-59 with 1:55 left, only to see the Bruins score the game's final six points.

"When we got back and watched that film, and we saw the layups that we missed, the fades, the blockouts," Hamilton said. "It brought us back to the fundamentals, [which] we didn't execute as well in that game. So we'll learn from that."

To keep the pressure off, Hamilton is sticking to the old adage of just doing the best you can.

"What we're playing is to see whether or not we can come as close as we can to reaching our full potential," Hamilton said. "Now if we can do that and win, we'll be happy."

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