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RedHawks limp to the finish

He was hoping for better in his first season at the Miami University men’s basketball helm, but John Cooper is a realist. He knew this would take time.

The RedHawks are heading into today’s regular-season finale at Ohio with some unpleasant history on their backs, and a first-round road trip in the Mid-American Conference tournament looms Monday.

Miami is 8-20, clinching its second (and second straight) 20-loss season. Miami is 3-12 in the MAC, and a loss to the Bobcats would seal the worst conference season in school history. Miami is riding an eight-game losing streak, its worst in a season since losing 12 straight in 1932-33.

Those facts stand for results on the court. MU was technically 5-23 overall and 1-15 in the MAC with an 18-game losing streak in 1988-89, but only because of eight NCAA-mandated forfeits.

“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked,” Cooper said. “I didn’t come into the year blind to anything that could happen. I didn’t know if we’d win 20 games or lose 20. The things that you worry about — rebounding and shooting — have really played themselves out throughout the season. And I didn’t know we’d have some of the injuries we’ve had.”

The RedHawks have lost three players (Bill Edwards, Drew McGhee, Allen Roberts) to season-ending knee injuries. The squad also has 10 single-digit defeats.

The rivalry matchup against Ohio (22-8, 13-2) should get the juices flowing.

“If you can’t get excited for that game, there’s something wrong with you,” Miami senior center Vince Legarza said. “What’s the worst that can happen? We’re going to go over there and give them everything we’ve got.”

It’s Senior Day for the Bobcats, and five players will be honored. Included will be point guard D.J. Cooper, one of the top players in MAC history.

Ohio is the No. 2 seed behind Akron in the conference tournament. The Bobcats made it all the way to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season.

“This time of year, it’s about hunger,” OU coach Jim Christian said. “Who wants it more? You’re going to see guys, seniors, all across this league fighting as hard as they can to get to the NCAA tournament. We have to have that same kind of fight.”

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