The Utah Jazz have a superstar on their hands in Donovan Mitchell, but when he was younger, he probably didn’t imagine playing for Utah.
That’s because the two-time All-Star was actually a Miami Heat fan growing up.
Mitchell spoke about Wade and the Heat, revealing how they impacted him when he was younger.
“I was definitely a Heat fan growing up,” Mitchell said. “I remember when him and LeBron [James] were playing the [Indiana] Pacers in a playoff series. And I just remember how they manipulated the game in the fourth quarter and overtime. I remember … how much he impacted my life and my career growing up.
“We just witnessed greatness when he was playing. He’s been a big influence on me in a number of ways.”
Mitchell is working on a stellar career at the NBA level. The 25-year-old is currently in his fifth season, and he’s looking to be named an All-Star for the third consecutive campaign.
This season, the youngster is averaging 25.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. He’s shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.7 percent from beyond the arc.
The Jazz are off to an impressive start this season, and Mitchell has had a lot to do with that. So far, Utah is 28-13, which is the third-best record in the Western Conference.
The Jazz are still trying to capture their first NBA title in franchise history.
Weekend in Waco
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami women’s tennis team is off to a strong start to its 2022 campaign.
For the first time since 2016, the Hurricanes won back-to-back matches, 7-0. The victories came at FGCU and home versus Florida Atlantic, excellent beginnings to the dual match season after a superb showing in the Miami Spring Invite.
No. 23 Miami (2-0) has had impressive success from start to finish, throughout its lineup. The Hurricanes have dropped just three sets in two contests.
“In both matches, we did a very good job with doubles, bringing a quick point,” Miami associate head coach Alex Santos said. “What I liked is, I think we were always poised and competing very well, independent of the quality of our tennis. We always stayed focused and calm. We competed on each and every court and on every single point on each one of the courts. I think, [Tuesday against Florida Atlantic], on our courts, I liked the dominance that we presented from beginning to end. I do believe that the quality of tennis was better, so that was a good thing to see, as well.”
Doubles has indeed been a huge part of Miami’s quality performance thus far. That play is not surprising, though, as the Hurricanes showed that ability in the fall.
Fourth-year junior Daevenia Achong and fifth-year senior Eden Richardson, together ranked No. 40, have held down the No. 1 spot so far. Third-year sophomores Diana Khodan and Maya Tahan, who competed in the NCAA Doubles Championship together last year, are competing at No. 2.
Rounding out the Miami lineup are sophomores Audrey Boch-Collins and Isabella Pfennig, the latter of whom also played in the 2021 NCAA Doubles Championship.
“I honestly think that we have three great doubles team [on which] the girls trust each other. [I also think] that the girls trust that from one to three, three to one, everybody can win in their respective positions,” Santos shared. “I think that gives them a lot of confidence and I think that they also enjoy each other, enjoy playing with each other and trust each other. And they all can play doubles, which is a great thing. They all understand, very well, the game of doubles and can really execute well in doubles.”
The task, in both doubles and singles, will now get harder for the Hurricanes, who are set to hit the road for Waco, Texas. There, they will compete in ITA Kick-Off Weekend at the Hurd Tennis Center.
Top-seeded Baylor (1-1), ranked No. 22, is the host school for the weekend. Miami is seeded second, while USC (3-0) is seeded third and ranked No. 15. Kansas (0-1), the fourth seed, rounds out the field.
The four schools are competing for a spot in the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championship, slated for Feb. 11-14 in Madison, Wis. Only one team—the one that wins both its matches this weekend—will earn a place in the tournament.
The Hurricanes, who feature two ranked singles players in No. 76 Pfennig and No. 104 Achong, begin action Friday at noon ET against USC. The winner plays the next day at 3 p.m. ET, while the loser plays at noon ET.
The Trojans, the Hurricanes’ opening foe, feature four ranked singles players, including the No. 1 individual in the country, Eryn Cayetano. Salma Ewing checks in at No. 12, followed by Snow Han at No. 39 and Naomi Cheong at No. 98.
In doubles, Ewing and Han place No. 23, while Cayetano and Grace Piper hold the No. 26 position for the Pac-12 program.
“It’s a great opportunity to compete and [it gives us] an opportunity to be at National Indoors, which is a special tournament and a goal of ours,” Santos said. “We have a very good team in USC that we’ll be competing against on Friday. We’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game to have a chance to win that match, but I do believe that if we bring the best version of each and every one of ourselves, we’ll have a great chance to advance and then play to qualify.
“I think we are in a good spot, playing good tennis [from] everybody down the line, starting with doubles,” Santos continued. “I’m excited for that. We go there, I think, in a good emotional state.”
Although Santos is assuredly focused first and foremost on the task at hand on the court, this weekend does have an added element for him.
Before returning to Miami on Dec. 1, 2020, Santos spent nearly 16 months as the associate head coach at Baylor. He helped lead the team to a 10-2 record during the abbreviated 2020 season.
Now, he brings his current team, Miami, to the city with the only other school, Baylor, at which he has served as an assistant.
“On a personal level, obviously, I have great memories from Waco, from Baylor,” Santos shared. “I [will get to] see people that I love that helped me in my life and were an important part of my life. There is something bigger and better than tennis, which is life and the people in our lives. I’m excited to see all of them.”
Santos, though, is not the only member of the Miami program with ties to Waco.
Boch-Collins is in her first season with the Hurricanes after transferring in from Baylor, where she spent the 2020-21 season. The Las Vegas native turned in a strong rookie campaign for the Bears before electing to come to Miami.
Like himself and the rest of the team, though, Santos knows Boch-Collins will be locked in this weekend and not worried about outside factors.
“Honestly, I think Audrey is a competitor. We all are,” Santos said. “The moment we start playing, we will really be relentless in trying to obtain the goal that we are looking for. I think Audrey has played some of the best players in the country already and she will be ready for [this weekend].”
Regardless of location or familiarity, this four-team tournament presents a good opportunity for the Hurricanes to display their abilities.
Their coaches are confident in what the team can do.
“We like this group a lot,” Santos remarked. “We have a great feeling about them, where they are. I think we felt that in the first match of the season.”
“We’re In This Together”
by Christy Cabrera Chirinos
Charlie Moore has managed to hit a few half-court shots during his basketball life.
But never one like this.
Never one that silenced an entire arena. Never one that gave his team a conference win on the road. Never one that capped yet another memorable game for the Miami Hurricanes.
“That shot was kind of special,” the sixth-year redshirt senior guard said of the buzzer-beating heave that lifted Miami to a 78-75 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Wednesday night.
With 1.8 seconds left on the clock and the game tied, Moore and the Hurricanes returned to the floor after a timeout knowing they’d have little time to work if they wanted to get out of Cassell Coliseum with a win and without having to play overtime for it.
But Moore felt comfortable, thinking to himself he might have just enough time to give the ball a little dribble before putting up his shot.
The shot banked off the glass, fell and pandemonium ensued on the Miami sideline, with the Hurricanes chasing after Moore as he rushed down the floor and out the tunnel in pure joy.
“My coaching staff, they showed a great play for me and my teammates executed it very well,” said Moore, who finished with 13 points and earlier in the game notched the 500th assist of his college career. “Coming out of the timeout, I knew my coaches and my teammates trusted me to take this shot…I just wanted to get a shot up, give us a chance to win and it happened to go in. I’m excited. My teammates are excited for me. I’m just happy we came out with a win.”
It’s a win that not only put the Hurricanes (15-5, 7-2) alone atop the ACC standings, but proved yet again they’re a resilient bunch that can’t be counted out, even in the toughest of situations.
Miami trailed Virginia Tech by six points in the final seven minutes and by five in the final two before closing the game on an 8-0 run. That stretch included three key free throws from Isaiah Wong and a clutch rebound from Jordan Miller that gave the Hurricanes – and Moore – the final shot.
Before Wednesday’s effort, already this season, the Hurricanes rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Syracuse 88-87. Miami trailed by nine with five minutes left in an eventual 80-75 win over Clemson. The Hurricanes hung on for a 76-74 thriller of a win over then second-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
And just days ago, though Miami ultimately came up short, the Hurricanes fought back from a 26-point deficit against rival Florida State and gave themselves a chance to win on the game’s final shot.
“We’ve been in so many of these games already. Just look at [our] last games,” Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga said. “Syracuse we won by one. At Duke, we won by two. At Florida State, we lost by one. Florida State at home, we lost by one. Now, we win by three. Our guys have been very, very consistently poised in the last three, four minutes of games. They’ve been making big play after big play.”
Said Moore, “We believe in each other. We trust in each other’s talents and what we’re able to do on the court. We feel like we’re a great team. We have confidence to make these comebacks and runs…I feel like us just believing in each other, trusting each other and just staying poised, we have those characteristics as a team and that helps us continue to fight when we’re down in games or things like that. It says a lot to have a poised team all across the board. It’s pretty rare. We just have to continue to get better, continue to trust each other. We still have a long season ahead of us. We have to continue to stay humble as well.”
For the Hurricanes, the next test comes Saturday at Georgia Tech (9-10, 2-6).
Though the Yellow Jackets have struggled this season, on Wednesday night, they knocked off the same Florida State team that has challenged Miami twice this season. And the Hurricanes know nothing can be taken for granted in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Miami will look to put together another balanced effort like the one against Virginia Tech that featured five players scoring in double figures, including Kameron McGusty, who had 17 of his game-high 19 points in the final 15 minutes.
The Hurricanes know they can continue being a force. But they have to keep working together.
“Going into an environment like Virginia Tech, playing teams like Virginia Tech tough, making those shots, executing well, we’ve got to be poised,” Moore said. “Those types of teams are going to make runs. We’re going to make our runs. We can’t get down on each other or start doubting each other. We know we have to stick together in those types of games because we’re in the ACC. Those types of games are going to happen night in and night out. If we doubt each other, it’s not going to work out in our favor.”
Charlie Moore: Virginia Tech Postgame Presser
Charlie Moore recaps his buzzer beater and the Canes’ win in Blacksburg.
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