Maria Fantanarosa continues to move pieces in and out, back and forth, and keeps on smiling.
Her oft-injured Miami University women’s basketball team is on a five-game winning streak and leads the Mid-American Conference East Division heading into today’s noon game against Buffalo at Millett Hall.
The RedHawks have been dealing with injuries and illness since before the season began, and yet here they are, 13-6 overall and 5-1 in the MAC.
“As contenders, it’s been the most things I’ve had to deal with,” Fantanarosa said. “You can call it coaching. You can call it that you’re hiding people or that you’re trying to change things to play percentages with who you have.
“Because we have talent, it’s just a matter of who you’re playing that day and how you can strategically be in positions to be successful and still present it like it’s a positive.”
The current players in the less-than-100-percent department are all guards: Courtney Osborn, Hannah Robertson and Courtney Larson.
Osborn has been sick this week. Robertson didn’t play last Sunday against Kent State after suffering a Saturday knee injury. Larson has missed the last three games with a knee problem.
Larson almost certainly won’t play today. Osborn and Robertson are day to day.
“They’re obstacles that we’ve treated like opportunities,” Fantanarosa said. “They’re responding to things instead of being an emotional team that reacts.”
The responders include freshmen Hannah McCue, Jessica Rupright and Maddie McCallie. They combined for 29 points and 11 rebounds against KSU in a game that saw forwards Kirsten Olowinski and Kelsey Simon playing some point guard and two-guard, respectively.
“The good news is, we celebrate their versatility,” Fantanarosa said. “Because the players are coachable and very focused on contributing in any way, it’s worked.”
Buffalo is just 6-13 overall, but stands 4-2 and is tied with Bowling Green for second place in the East. The Bulls are a post-oriented squad that leads the MAC in offensive rebounds.
“They sit in a zone the majority of the time to play percentages and give themselves an opportunity to be in games,” Fantanarosa said. “For us, it’s going to be good to be home. You’ve got legs, and there’s that level of confidence to protect your home court.”
Miami will finish the week at Northern Illinois (5-14, 0-6) on Sunday afternoon.