Haith keeps the faith

Staff WriterFebruary 1, 2011 

Over the last two weeks, Miami coach Frank Haith has tried to be philosophical, tried to look for the upside. The day after his team lost its fourth straight game by four or fewer points, he looked to a higher power.

"We've got to continue to be upbeat, and continue to work, because this team is getting better," Haith said in Monday's ACC teleconference. "And [we're] just hoping and praying to the basketball gods that the ball will start to bounce our way."

Haith said he's never experienced a string of last-minute losses like this.

It began Jan. 18 against Florida State, when Hurricanes guard Durand Scott missed two potential game-tying layups in the final 10 seconds and Miami lost 55-53.

Four days later, Miami took the lead at N.C. State with 64 seconds left, only to have Wolfpack forward Tracy Smith grab an offensive rebound and score the game-winner with 42 seconds left.

The misfortune continued on Jan. 26, when the Hurricanes blew a double-digit lead to the Tar Heels, losing when Harrison Barnes buried a game-winning 3-pointer with 6 seconds left.

On Sunday at Virginia Tech, Garrius Adams' potentially game-tying 3-pointer clanked off the rim with 3 seconds left. The Hokies won 72-68.

"I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you it was real tough," Haith said.

To deal with it, Haith has reached out to other coaches, including Texas' Rick Barnes: "I was told by Rick, 'The kids are going to respond and react how you react, so we've got to continue to coach them.' "

And stay positive, Haith said.

"I keep saying this, and I hope it's true, that I think it's a learning experience, and I think we're going to get better from it, and we're getting stronger with all this adversity we're going through right now," Haith added. "I think this ballclub, if we can continue and stay with it, there will be some good things that happen to this ballclub before this year is over with."

Dribbles

Senior forward Tracy Smith said after N.C. State's 20-point loss to UNC on Saturday that the Wolfpack didn't fight as "hard as we could."

Monday, coach Sidney Lowe said the players have played hard this season and "will play hard" going forward but stopped short of Smith's claim.

"It was just a bad game," Lowe said. "We picked the wrong time to do that."

Lowe said effort hasn't been an ongoing problem but there have been lapses.

"What we haven't done is to play a full 40 minutes," Lowe said. "We put together 30 minutes, 25 minutes, but we haven't put together 40 minutes of tough, tough basketball."

Wake Forest's C.J. Harris had never played point guard before this season. Freshman Tony Chennault's broken foot forced him into that role - which may ultimately be good for the future of the player, and the team, coach Jeff Bzdelik said.

"Everything's new to him, and I really do think he's done a wonderful, wonderful job," the first-year Deacons coach said. "He's developing, he's playing all aspects of the game, he's gaining more confidence, he's making better decisions with the basketball, he comes in and he watches film all the time.

"I think, once we are able to get Tony Chennault back in optimum shape and understanding what we're doing, as Tony gains experience - for the future, this is going to help C.J. Harris, when he goes back to his natural position off the ball, to really be a complete player and really add a lot to his game."

Staff writer J.P. Giglio contributed to this report.

robbi.pickeral@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8944

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