Adjustments will be made. Exactly what that means in terms of the lineup or playing style, Miami University men’s basketball coach John Cooper isn’t saying.
The RedHawks (7-11) are on a three-game losing skid and coming off a lifeless 82-62 home defeat against Ball State. On Wednesday, streaking Western Michigan comes to Millett Hall.
“I don’t know how much confidence we’re playing with right now,” Cooper said. “I’ll be honest, I’m just trying to figure out where I can put this group to put them in the best position to be successful.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. It still goes back to an effort thing. We’ve got to have better effort. Some of the stuff doesn’t make any sense if the effort isn’t there.”
WMU (12-7) has won its last four games and leads the Mid-American Conference West Division, despite having eight freshmen on its roster. MU is trying to avoid its second four-game losing streak of the season.
“Nobody feels sorry for us, and that’s fine with me,” Cooper said. “This is what you do it for, at least in my opinion. We’ve got to continue to keep working and figure it out.”
The Broncos have been a bit of a surprise this year, according to 10th-year coach Steve Hawkins. Only Buffalo’s Reggie Witherspoon (14 seasons) has a longer current tenure among MAC head coaches.
“We didn’t have a lot of expectations coming in, but it’s a tight-knit group with great team chemistry,” Hawkins said. “We’re not always the prettiest team to watch, but there’s only been one game really all year long where we laid a dud and didn’t play hard, and that was the Akron game (a 65-43 loss on Jan. 9).”
Shayne Whittington, a 6-foot-10 redshirt junior center, leads Western in scoring (11.8) and rebounding (8.2). Defensively, Hawkins said simply, “We play nothing but man to man.”
He said the MAC has changed “in a million ways” in his 13 seasons at Western Michigan (he was an assistant for three years). Hawkins has learned to take nothing for granted.
He said the conference has clearly shifted its emphasis on the court. Most teams now have an up-tempo style of play.
“I think Miami epitomizes it as much as anybody,” Hawkins said. “For the first several years I was in this league and really until just recently, there were a lot of coaches that believed in nothing but man-to-man defense and grinding it out in the halfcourt. There wasn’t a lot of pressing, and there wasn’t a lot of zone.
“Now you have to prepare for any number of styles. I used to think the nonconference part of the schedule was great because it prepared you for several styles of play, but once you got in the MAC, you didn’t need all of that. Now you do.”
Western Michigan at Miami, 7 p.m., 1450, 1230, 980, 101.3