Friday, March 19, 2004

Fast-paced RedHawks prepare
for hostile road environment

By Colleen Kane
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Less than 24 hours after defeating Xavier on its home floor in the opening round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, the Miami women's basketball team boarded a plane to try to knock off a second opponent on the road.

The RedHawks play at Iowa State in the WNIT round of 16 at 8 p.m. today. The winner advances to the quarterfinals March 24 and 25.

"In a tournament like this, it's more about us. It doesn't matter how much we prep (the players)," Miami head coach Maria Fantanarosa said. "Of course we're a scout-heavy team, so we're still going to prepare them. But it's a matter of whether we can turn around in two days and still be scrappy, still be smart, still be the team that's the most competitive."

The RedHawks will look to continue Wednesday night's fast-paced, high-spirited play tonight.

But this road test could be more challenging than the last.

The Cyclones, who had the fifth-best women's attendance in the country last season, used a double-header with the men's NIT game to draw a crowd of 12,196 to its 72-59 opening-round defeat of Idaho State. They average 7,087 fans a game at Hilton Coliseum and have an 11-4 home record this season, including wins over nationally ranked Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Miami averages 702 fans a game, but the RedHawks insist they'll be able to handle a raucous crowd.

"We like that kind of atmosphere. I mean, it is March Madness," senior center Kim Lancaster said. "I think we'll enjoy it, even if it is their fans. It might help us just to hear noise, get us pumped up."

Iowa State (16-14) made the WNIT after finishing ninth in the Big 12, a conference that sent seven teams to the NCAA Tournament this year. Miami is 1-5 all time against Big 12 opponents.

The Cyclones are led by senior guard Anne O'Neil, who averages 12.8 points, 4.0 assists and 4.1 rebounds a game.

"Coach told us they're a good group of outside shooters, so we have to not let them get any easy looks at the basket," Lancaster said. "Our being up-tempo can be in our favor, because they usually don't push it up."

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