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Looking back on the greatest season in Miami basketball history

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The Miami Hurricanes were soundly defeated by Marquette 71-61 in a game that was a bigger blowout than the final score might indicate. Reggie Johnson missing the game due to injury and Shane Larkin playing with illness partially explain the score, but the team simply shot poorly and also ran into a bad matchup. Marquette had the ability to exploit Miami's weakness-defensive rebounding.

But, although the season came to a close in a dissapointing fashion for UM (as they do for 67 of 68 teams in the NCAA tournament), it's important to remember that this was the greatest season ever in UM history. To review:

  • It may not have seemed like it at that time, but Miami began to make some noise that it might be far better than preseason expectations when it downed traditional power Michigan State in the Big Ten/ACC Tournament challenge.
  • Miami defeated North Carolina three times, including an 87-77 win over the Tar Heels in the championship game of the ACC Tournament.
  • The Hurricanes throttled then number 1-Duke 90-63 in what was one of the biggest routs of the a top-ranked team ever.
  • Miami vaulted to #2 in the polls, its highest ranking in school history.
  • UM won both the ACC regular season and tournament championships (and became the first ACC team ever to do so and not get a #1 seed).
  • Miami won three games against teams who would ultimately advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament (Duke, Michigan State and LaSalle).
  • The attendance at the BankUnited Center improved drastically.

Now, it's unfortunate, but all good things have to come to an end, and on Thursday night, six of Miami's nine rotation players (and I'm being generous including Eric Swoope) officially became former Hurricanes. Should Shane Larkin return to school, the team has the opportunity to be respectable in what will be a loaded ACC. If not, it's likely to be a rebuilding year.

What this team's success does do is greatly help recruiting. It affirms Jim Larranaga (if he wasn't already known as this already) as one of the best coaches in America. It also affirms that you can win at Miami, and that fans will come if the team has success.

In short, while Miami's loss on Thursday night was dissapointing, the season on a whole should be celebrated, and there's hope that the 2012-2013 Miami Hurricanes will help the program's long-term prospects moving forward.

For more information, please visit: www.miamiherald.com and www.espn.com.

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