PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- After Ja'Quan Newton blistered a pass with a little too much mustard on it, Sheldon McClellan backed up down the court, caught the eye of Newton and the rest of his Miami teammates and motioned with his hands, palms facing down, toward the ground.
"Calm down and slow down" was the message.
It was simple, subtle and oh so necessary at this time of year.
Such is the luxury of good and experienced guards.
It is hardly a news flash that March winners tend to have at least one, if not two, great guys in their backcourt. That Miami has such a duo might be something of an eye-opener, at least to folks who haven’t paid strict attention to college basketball this season.
Miami isn’t sexy, neither a name brand nor a nouveau upstart, and consequently McClellan and Angel Rodriguez aren’t exactly household names. They ought to be -- and they very well might be by the end of this tournament. The two form as good a backcourt as you’ll find, good enough to take Miami on a deep run in March.
As Miami kept Buffalo from pulling off another first-round upset in Providence, holding on for a 79-72 win, it was McClellan and Rodriguez who got them there.
The Hurricanes had to gut this one out. Buffalo did not go away, but Rodriguez and McClellan helped put them away, swishing 8 of 10 free throws in the closing minutes. They score a lot of points -- Rodriguez had 24, McClellan 20 against Buffalo -- but it's more than that.
It's this: McClellan at the end of the game, Miami up eight, reminding Newton not to foul as Buffalo lined up for a wide-open 3.
Simple, subtle and oh so necessary, especially at this time of year.