People and Community Sports

Watch party hosted for ’Canes Final Four debut

Nearly 3,500 fans showed up to The Ultimate Home Game Watch Party at the Watsco Center to cheer the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team as they took on the UConn Huskies for a shot at the NCAA Championship game.
Students packed the Watsco Center for a Final Four game watch party. Photo: Matthew Rembold/University of Miami
Students packed the Watsco Center in Coral Gables for a Final Four game watch party. Photo: Matthew Rembold/University of Miami

The energy was electrifying at the “Ultimate Home Game Watch Party at Watsco Center” Saturday night as nearly 3,500 students and alumni watched the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team make history.

The ’Canes made their first ever debut in the NCAA Final Four against the University of Connecticut Huskies for a spot in Monday’s national championship game. Organized by the Division of Student Affairs and the Alumni Association, the goal of the event was to cheer on the ’Canes from home court while the team played at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Although they fell short of the win, fans throughout the arena all shared a sense of pride for the men’s basketball team and head coach Jim Larrañaga for giving this season their all. The support shown by the ’Canes community at the Watsco Center was astounding.

“I think UConn is a pretty strong team and we did our best—it is what it is,” said Ray Zhang, a graduate student in sports administration. “I know that the organization will be able to move on from this and know that things will only get better.”

The doors opened at 7:30 p.m. and fans experienced live performances from members of The Frost Band of the Hour Pep Band and the Sunsations. Members of the women’s basketball team, who made it to the Elite Eight of their own NCAA Tournament, received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The lowered jumbotron, a four-sided LED screen, gave fans a great view of the game, no matter the angle. Vendors sold hot food and sweet treats, and the Campus Store was on site with Final Four merchandise.

Adorned in school spirit attire, first-year student Tatiana Llanso and junior Vanessa Garcia said they plan to stick by the team no matter the outcome.

“I’ve always been a ’Canes fan but I got extra excited that we made it to the Final Four,” said Garcia, a junior majoring in journalism. “The spirit in our section tonight was energetic and I would say we gave it our all.”

Garcia and Llanso both enjoyed their time at the watch party. They said they would never forget the feeling of everyone in attendance rallying around the student-athletes during such an important moment in University sport history.

“I’ve gone to every game this season and I’ve had a really good time each time,” said Llanso, an accounting and finance major. “The crowd here tonight is amazing. This was awesome experience.”