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

Wright State women fall to IUPUI
Wright State women fall to IUPUI

Wright State University women’s basketball coach Katrina Merriweather saw it coming. The Raiders had been able to pull out wins despite not playing their best. That caught up with them Sunday afternoon. “We didn’t play well two games ago and I knew this was going to happen if we didn’t become more efficient,” Merriweather...
Danny Kanell takes a predictable shot at SEC on championship Sunday
Danny Kanell takes a predictable shot at SEC on championship Sunday

The “SEC is all propaganda” has become a tired argument for Danny Kanell, but it’s one he insists on making at every opportunity. Even when it’s not accurate. On Sunday afternoon, the former ESPN radio host took a predictable and selective shot at SEC teams for not being among the leaders in championship...
Multiple former West Virginia players headed to Super Bowl with Philadelphia Eagles
Multiple former West Virginia players headed to Super Bowl with Philadelphia Eagles

West Virginia football fans will have plenty to cheer about in two weeks if the Philadelphia Eagles capture their first ever Super Bowl Championship. Four former Mountaineers — Shelton Gibson, Rasul Douglas, Najee Goode and Wendell Smallwood — will be playing in Minneapolis, all with Philadelphia. It is the first...
Stanford QB Keller Chryst to leave program as graduate transfer
Stanford QB Keller Chryst to leave program as graduate transfer

Keller Chryst began the 2017 season as Stanford’s starting quarterback but eventually was overpassed by redshirt freshman K.J. Costello. With Costello firmly entrenched in that job for 2018, Chryst is looking to complete his career somewhere else as a graduate transfer. Chryst threw for 1,901 yards and 19 touchdowns for...
Recruiting analyst: NCAA ‘failed’ Billy Preston, Kansas through lack of ruling
Recruiting analyst: NCAA ‘failed’ Billy Preston, Kansas through lack of ruling

The Billy Preston era of Kansas basketball ended before it even started on Saturday when it was announced that the freshman had signed with a Bosnian professional team. The rivals 5-star prospect never started in a regular season game after he was suspended due to an ongoing investigation by the NCAA regarding an on-campus car...
More Stories