UM guard Charlie Moore’s half-court game-winning shot was not a lucky heave. Here’s why

·4 min read
Matt Gentry/AP

Coach Jim Larranaga does not pay much attention to social media, but when your point guard hits a half-court buzzer-beating game-winning bank shot that earns No. 2 on ESPN SportsCenter’s Play of the Day, it’s fun watching video replays on Twitter.

Charlie Moore’s spectacular shot to beat Virginia Tech on the road Wednesday night went viral, and the Miami Hurricanes enjoyed reliving the moment before turning their attention to another road game Saturday at Georgia Tech.

Larranaga said he watched the replay on the plane ride home, on his way to campus upon arrival in Miami, and again several times Thursday morning. When he got to his staff meeting, his assistant coaches showed him other angles of the shot and celebration on Twitter.

“I got a lot of text messages, the shot that Charlie made was incredible and is being talked about everywhere,” Larranaga said. “My wife and I were watching the replay of the celebration, the guys sprinting, chasing Charlie through the tunnel. I must have watched it a dozen times on Twitter.”

After watching and dissecting those final 1.8 seconds, Larranaga was able to explain exactly how that shot came to be. It was not just a lucky heave. It was a calculated, perfectly executed play.

“What nobody probably realized from watching on T.V. was that I was standing close to midcourt trying to get the referees to tell me where we were taking the ball out. I didn’t know if it was length of court, side court or at the hashmark, which is where it ended up being,” Larranaga said. “When we finally got that instruction, it changed our thinking as to what we needed to do.”

In the meantime, Moore approached assistant coach Bill Courtney and said: “I want the ball. Give me the ball.”

Moore, a sixth-year senior known for his poise under pressure, was having a good game, playing confidently, so Larranaga ran the play for him.

UM coaches put Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller down the floor because both are threats to catch and shoot from deep. That stretched the Hokies defense, and Sam Waardenburg was asked to set a screen for Moore to free him up. Moore cut around, caught McGusty’s perfect pass on the run, took one dribble, got a good look at the basket and made the shot.

Moore called the shot “crazy” and gave credit to Waardenburg and McGusty for putting him in position. He said it’s the kind of shot he dreamed about as a kid on the playgrounds of Chicago.

“What is missed and is so important was Kam McGusty’s pass because if it had been a little behind Charlie or a little in front of him, Charlie never would have been able to make that play,” Larranaga said.

The moment the ball went through, Moore ran toward the tunnel with his index finger raised and his teammates ran alongside him. They practice for moments like that, and it has come in handy, as five of UM’s past six games came down to three points or fewer.

“At the end of every practice we do a two-minute drill where we pretend the score is 70-70 and we work on our end-of-game situations,” said Waardenburg. “We prepare well for those moments.”

But Moore’s shot was more exciting than anything they had practiced.

“It’s something you’re going to remember the rest of your life,” Waardenburg said. “It was college basketball at its best. Charlie’s a smart enough player to understand how much time he had to do what he did. You could say that was lucky shot, but when you have someone who prepares as well as Charlie does, the chances of that happening for him are higher than anyone else because he takes deep threes and practices that all the time. That moment was built for him.”

Waardenburg said his initial reaction upon seeing Moore’s shot fall was simple: “Hug that man. That was incredible.”

The win, coupled with Florida State’s loss to Georgia Tech, put Miami (15-5, 7-2 ACC) in sole possession of first place in the conference. The Canes play the Yellow Jackets at noon Saturday.