Thursday, March 18, 1999

Miami fans root for another upset

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Coach Charlie Coles and star Wally Szczerbiak told fans to save some cheers for the rest of the tournament.
(Michael E. Keating photos)
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        OXFORD — After stunning upsets of Washington and Utah in the NCAA Tournament that landed them in the Sweet 16, what could the Miami RedHawks possibly do for an encore?

        “Beat Kentucky!”

        That's what an estimated 4,000 fans hollered Wednesday afternoon during a pep rally at Millett Hall. The team received an enthusiastic send-off from supporters as it left via bus to St. Louis for a Round 3 showdown with defending national champion University of Kentucky.

        Millett Hall was a sea of red and white as fans filled the arena to catch a glimpse of the RedHawks before Friday night's contest. Signs that read “Wally for Prez” and “Go Miami” waved as fans chanted “Wally, Wally, Wally” as Wally Szczerbiak and the other RedHawks were introduced.

        Even Miami University President James Garland was decked out in his RedHawks duds.

Students cheer.
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        If the RedHawks have their way, they'll return to Millett next week for another rally — this time before the Final Four.

        “You guys save some of those cheers, because I plan on being back here next week doing the same thing,” Mr. Szczerbiak, the All-America player from Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., told the crowd. “Not only is this Wally World, this is your world, too.”

        Miami coach Charlie Coles also advised fans to save some of their cheers for this Friday. “We haven't beat Kentucky yet,” he said.

        The upstart RedHawks, 24-7, are 91/2-point underdogs to UK. But to many fans, that doesn't matter.

At least 4,000 attended the pep rally at Millett Hall.
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        “This team is fantastic,” said Mark Krabbe, an education professor at Miami. “Wally is unbelievable. I know we can beat Ken tucky. We are going to beat them.”

        “I think if Miami plays a complete game, we have a shot,” said senior Allen Parker, 22, from Toledo, Ohio.

        But win or lose Friday, many RedHawks fans say this year's team has achieved a greater goal.

        “There has been so much electricity on campus this past week it's been unbelievable,” said senior Mike Oleshansky, 21, from Sylvania, Ohio. “Miami's success and being in the national spotlight has definitely brought our campus together.”


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