Miami Hurricanes Basketball: Quotes and Notes from Louisville Before Miami’s Sweet 16 Matchup

Mar 23, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Angel Rodriguez (13) speaks to the media during practice the day before the semifinals of the South regional of the NCAA Tournament at KFC YUM!. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; Miami Hurricanes guard Angel Rodriguez (13) speaks to the media during practice the day before the semifinals of the South regional of the NCAA Tournament at KFC YUM!. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports /

Here are a few quotes and notes from the KFC Yum! Center before the Miami Hurricanes and Villanova Wildcats battle in the Sweet 16.

Game Info: No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (27-7) vs. No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (31-5) – 7:10 PM ET (CBS)


  • Angel Rodriguez on the positives of blowing the 21-point lead and still beating Wichita State: “Well, learned a lot of things. One of them is the fact that nobody’s going to quit. At this point of the year, everybody knows you lose, you go home. Doesn’t matter if you’re up 25, 30. Teams are going to fight to come back. And at the same time, it was great to learn that as a team, we were willing to take on that challenge, a team coming back from 21 points. Definitely, they had all the momentum, the crowd was into it. We definitely weren’t playing with the same rhythm we started the game. But we stayed together. We found a way to make plays to get ourselves going, and that’s what it’s about at this point in the season.”
  • Jim Larranaga on his relationship with Jay Wright: “Well, I’ve known Jay a very, very long time, and we’ve been on trips together, we’ve sat together at AAU events. And I think he’s just a tremendous individual, great coach. He’s built an incredible basketball program, a perennial powerhouse in the Big East. He has his team seeded very high these last several years, No. 1, No. 2. They’ve just done a great job.”
  • Jim Larranaga on Villanova’s style of play and similarities with Miami: “Their style of play, I think, is very inviting to high school recruits. They do a lot of ball screens. They play multiple defenses. And we think we’re very similar. We’re almost like the mirror image of them. We do a lot of ball screen. We play a lot of man-to-man defense, but we’ll change it up from time to time.”
  • Ja’Quan Newton on team’s ups and down and mentality in the Sweet 16: “We lost a few games we shouldn’t of and won a few big ones too, but the journey of this season was definitely up and down. It was a bumpy road, but we’ve started to click at the right time and we know that we belong here.”
  • Tonye Jekiri on whether or not this team can make the program’s first Elite Eight appearance: “In my mind, we can. Every time we take the floor to practice you can see guys are focused and that helped us last week and should up us again this week. I am just really happy with all the guys and we want to just keep winning and keep advancing.”
  • Sheldon McClellan on comparison with the 2012-2013 team and the potential of making the program’s first trip to the Elite Eight: “Honestly, we’ve been hearing about it, that the program has never reached an Elite Eight, so we definitely want to be the first group of guys to do that, and it will be a big accomplishment for us and the program.But I don’t know, man. It’s kind of up to y’all for those comparisons. We just try to win the game and advance. It’s called survive and advance for a reason. That’s our main focus. We just want to execute the game plan and try to advance.”
  • Sheldon McClellan on possibly playing in a Final Four in his hometown of Houston: “As far as returning to Houston, it would be the best thing in my life. So I’m praying and hoping we get there. We just need to take it one game at a time and it would be great to play our Final Four in Houston. I probably need a hundred tickets, but I just want to get there.”


  • As everyone knows, a win Thursday night will secure Miami’s first ever appearance in an Elite Eight. The Hurricanes have made the Sweet 16 twice, but lost in 2000 to No. 7 Tulsa and fell to No. 3 Marquette in 2013
  • The Canes have only played a No. 2 seed once and that was back in 2008 when they lost 75-72 to the Texas Longhorns
  • Miami has only played one NCAA Tournament game ever in the state of Kentucky, but that was all the way back in 1960 when the Canes lost 107-84 to Western Kentucky in Lexington
  • Ja’Quan Newton, a Philadelphia native, will go up against his hometown team looking to make an impact. If he can get in double figures in scoring, the Canes will probably be in good shape. In the 21 games he has scored 10 or more points this season, Miami is 18-3
  • Of all the Sweet 16 matchups, Miami and Villanova pairs up the two highest-rated teams combined in KenPom with the Wildcats at No. 4 and the Hurricanes at No. 11 (15). The next closest matchups are No. 3 North Carolina against No. 13 Indiana (16) and No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 Iowa State (17)
  • After finishing the regular season shooting the three at a 35.1% clip, Villanova has shot 23-of-47 from deep in the NCAA Tournament (48.9%)
  • Coach Jim Larranaga will be looking for his second win against Villanova and Jay Wright in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. Miami’s head man beat the Wildcats 61-57 in the first round of the 2011 tournament when he was the head coach at George Mason