The conventional thinking has it that often times it’s good for a team to lose a game because of more important things coming up.
The defeat did not cost the Hurricanes in the conference race. They already have clinched a tie for the Atlantic Coast Conferences’ unofficial regular-season title, and they have already earned the top seed for the league tournament.
Also, they won’t even have to share first place in the regular season as long as they win at least one of their remaining games in the regular season.
And they are home for both of them -- hosting Georgia Tech on Wednesday night and Clemson on Saturday afternoon.
Plus, they can still set a school record for both overall victories and conference wins by sweeping their final two games. They are 23-5 overall and 14-2 in the conference. The respective school records are 24 wins, set in 2001-02, and 15, set in 1998-99, when they were in the Big East.
But, to get to the point here, Miami coach Jim Larranaga is anything but a conventional thinker. He was asked Monday about comments that this was a good time for the Hurricanes to lose.
“I think what people are referring to -- and I don’t really buy into this -- is that if you’re on a long winning streak it’s not bad to lose a game to get refocused,” he said. “Because quite frankly, when you’re on a long winning streak, the players tend to think they’re winning just because they’re good.
“That’s never a good reason.”
Larranaga said in his last season at George Mason, his team had won 16 games in a row when it was to take on VCU, a team that had been a 20-point victim during the streak. VCU won by 16 in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
Winning comes down to staying focused concentrating on the schedule game-by-game, not as a conglomeration of 18 conference games or 30 regular-season contests.
“It’s how hard you work defensively, how you share the ball, how you select your shots,” Larranaga said. “And make shots because teams don’t shoot the same every night.”
“Getting refocused” really wasn’t an issue for the Hurricanes during their run to the top of the ACC. At Duke, they simply ran across a player returning from injury, Ryan Kelly, who almost couldn’t miss in Saturday evening’s matchup.
“I don’t think Ryan Kelly is going to go 10 for 14,” Larranaga said, referring to Kelly’s shooting stat line for the Blue Devils.
But before handing Duke “bulletin board” material for a potential future matchup in the ACC tourney, the coach smiled wryly and added: “He’s more likely to go 14 for 15 the way he shot it, now that his confidence is up.”