RedHawks open MAC against struggling NIU


It would seem to be the perfect Mid-American Conference opener for Miami University’s men’s basketball team, a home game against a struggling opponent that almost never wins at Millett Hall.

RedHawks coach John Cooper is optimistic, yet cautiously so, as Northern Illinois comes to Oxford tonight.

“I worry about all of them,” he said. “We’re not the kind of team that’s just going to come out and knock your socks off and be an imposing-type team. We’ve got to have great energy. It’s not going to be some walk through the park.”

MU is 5-7 and coming off a one-point loss to Massachusetts, while the Huskies are 2-10 and losers of their last five games. NIU is also 1-19 at Millett Hall, its lone victory coming in 1981.

“We’ve played a tough nonconference schedule,” Northern Illinois coach Mark Montgomery said. “Our last five or six games, we’re been right there with four or five minutes to go. We just have to get over the hump.”

Valparaiso, Loyola, Illinois Chicago, Dayton, DePaul and Washington are among the squads that have beaten the Huskies. Their last game was a 64-59 home loss to UMass on Dec. 29.

NIU has just one double-digit scorer, sophomore wing Abdel Nader (15.0), and he was suspended for the first seven games. Northern is shooting just 37.5 percent from the field as a team.

“We’ve had some injuries and we have a young team, but I like how our guys are definitely going out with the mind-set of competing for 40 minutes,” Montgomery said. “Our defense is definitely ahead of our offense. (Miami has) four or five guys that can get them double figures, and we’re still looking for two or three guys.”

Cooper liked a lot of what he saw last Wednesday in his team’s 70-69 defeat at the hands of UMass. What wasn’t so great was Miami’s rebounding, and that’s been the norm this season.

The RedHawks are getting outrebounded by an average margin of 8.8. Jon Harris (4.8), Will Felder (4.5) and Quinten Rollins (3.0) are the leaders on the glass.

“You can deny it as long as you want, but at this point in the season, that’s who you are,” Cooper said. “So we’ve got to figure out a way to get better as a group. We’re always going to be a group-rebounding team. We don’t have a guy that’s capable of averaging 10 or 11 boards a game.

“Having said that, it’s not the end of the world if we understand that we’ve got to do it together.”

A win tonight would give MU its best record through 13 games since the 2008-09 campaign, when the RedHawks were 8-5.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Dragons beat Chiefs 6-5 in 13 innings
Dragons beat Chiefs 6-5 in 13 innings

Extra innings has not been kind to the Dragons of late. They had dropped all eight of their most recent extra-session contests but snapped that streak Thursday night. It took 13 innings, but the Dragons were gifted a 6-5 defeat of the visiting Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) at Fifth Third Field. With two outs in the 13th, the Chiefs’ center fielder...
Reds notes: Suarez moves up in the order — and delivers
Reds notes: Suarez moves up in the order — and delivers

Eugenio Suarez’s batting average isn’t really that much to be proud of, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an effective hitter this season for the Cincinnati Reds. Suarez, who’s spent most of the season batting in the middle of manager Bryan Price’s lineups, made his first appearance in the No. 2 slot in Thursday&rsquo...
Red ruminations: Castillo not terrible, so at least there was that
Red ruminations: Castillo not terrible, so at least there was that

The Reds’ 12-2 loss to the Diamondbacks Thursday afternoon was a bit like throwing gas on a fire, but there was -- sort of -- some balm to be found in Great American Ball Park. At least there was this about starter Luis Castillo: The rookie starting pitcher allowed four earned runs in six innings, which isn’t fantastic (unless indexed against...
Pitching putrid again as Reds get shellacked by Diamondbacks
Pitching putrid again as Reds get shellacked by Diamondbacks

The Reds left Great American Ball Park after Wednesday’s 11-inning, 4-3 walkoff win over Arizona expecting to face Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker in Thursday afternoon’s series finale. They showed up the next morning and learned that Walker had left the team overnight to tend to his wife Heather, who’d gone into labor. Left-hander...
5 quick facts from Ohio State football’s new media guide
5 quick facts from Ohio State football’s new media guide

Missing college football?  Well, it won’t be long now as conference media days have already started and preseason schedules are starting to be announced.  For some people*, reading through the new media guide is also one of those rites of summer.  Scrolling through a PDF isn’t quite the same as tearing through those old glossy...
More Stories