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guillermo diaz article

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HYDE: 'Canes, Diaz may be going places

Published January 16, 2005



CORAL GABLES ? You know what? They haven't had a player like Guillermo Diaz. Not here. Not ever. At least not in the two decades since basketball returned to the University of Miami.


They've had players like Tito Horford, whom everyone wanted, and Tim James, whom everyone liked, and Darius Rice, whom everyone wanted to like.


But this kid?


"He's a once-in-a-lifetime-type player," said Saturday's losing coach, Florida State's Leonard Hamilton, who spent 10 seasons looking in vain for him back as Miami's coach.


On Saturday, Diaz was a collegiate Dwyane Wade at the end, slicing, spinning, splitting defenders and arching an 8-footer in the lane to hand-deliver Miami a 64-63 win against Florida State.


That gave Miami, which previously had beaten Florida, the state title.


And three wins in four Atlantic Coast Conference games.


And a 12-3 record.


And a sophomore now on every basketball fan's radar.


"Yeah, that's the shot I wanted," Diaz said of his game-winner. "The one that went in."


He talks just like he plays, fast and confident and always attacking.


"What does Miami's 3-1 start in the ACC say?" Diaz was asked.


"We're good," he said. "We're real good. We're better than people thought. Now they're seeing."


Should Miami be ranked?


"Of course," he said. "We're up there. There are a lot of good teams in there. But we're proving we're a good team too. Rank us."


Can you make the NCAA Tournament?


"Make the NCAA Tournament?" he repeated. "Win the NCAA Championship. Go to the end. That's what I want. I don't just want to get in. I want to go to the end."


This year?


"Oh, yeah," he said.


It's here in a column where some perspective is begged for, maybe just to protect him.


Like noting that Diaz is just 19. Or how Miami has defeated three teams with a combined 1-8 ACC record. And that Almighty Duke is coming to town Wednesday.


Oh, Lord. Not the blue-blood Blue Devils, right?


"A very good team," Diaz said. "But we're not going to be scared or anything."


It' s strange, isn't it? A Miami basketball player sounding more like a Miami football player than anyone in the football program these days?


One with pogo sticks in his legs to be on the Puerto Rican junior national volleyball team?


Who didn't speak English well enough after coming to Miami as a high school senior to trust leaving this town?


Florida State star guard Von Wafer tried to scare Diaz Saturday. He cocked his finger like a pistol after making a shot and fired it in front of Diaz. He talked up other shots, skipped down the court nodding his head, twice turned to the UM bench and said something.


"Trying to get in his head," said Wafer, who finished with 25 points.


Thing is, Diaz took on Wafer. Went after him. Shot for shot, more for move, even word for word. The referee once lectured both of them at a timeout.


"I got the ball where I wanted in the end," he said. "I wanted it in my hands. I just had to tell myself to relax."


Under Frank Haith, Miami is getting contributions from everyone the way winning teams must.


Robert Hite, another talent, had 18 points Saturday. Anthony King had six blocked shots, William Frisby 12 rebounds.


But sitting in the building he helped construct, after the kind of afternoon he once envisioned for Miami, Hamilton talked of one player. Only one.


"I'm sure Frank's happy to have Guillermo in his first year as coach," he said.


Happy the way you can be perhaps once in a coaching lifetime.


Dave Hyde can be reached at dhyde@sun-sentinel.com.



i love this kid. flatout love him. in a hetero way of course. :thumbup

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