Thursday, December 09, 1999

3 locals spark RedHawks

Grunkemeyer, Ensminger, Allendorf star

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — For Jason Grunkemeyer, Rich Allendorf and Mike Ensminger, the Xavier game means everything.

        That brought out the best in them in Miami's 67-58 upset of Xavier Wednesday at Millett Hall.

        Grunkemeyer jump-started the Miami offense when it looked like the RedHawks might get blown out.

        Ensminger gave Miami minutes, despite an aching back that kept him from practicing all week.

        And Allendorf played the best game of his Miami career.

        The Xavier game is so big because Grunkemeyer (Moeller), Ensminger (Oak Hills) and Allendorf (St.Xavier) are Cincinnati guys.

        “It's huge,” Ensminger said. “It's like a homecoming game in high school. We see them playing Kansas from Alaska and then to have them come in our house ...”

        Grunkemeyer was the first of the locals to contribute. Miami was down 5-0 and was 0-for-5 from the field when Grunkemeyer came off the bench. He hit a 3-pointer for Miami's first points of the game.

        Grunkemeyer, the junior guard, ended up with 16 points, two assists and three steals. He was 4-of-6 from 3-point range. He is hitting 64.7 percent from long distance for the year.

        “That's the Grunk we all know,” Miami coach Charlie Coles said. “I'm going to have to check with him tomorrow; he might be back in Grunksville. When Jason plays well, he really helps us.”

        “The first couple of baskets I got when they were matching up off the press,” Grunkemeyer said. “After that, they started coming at me. I was able to fake the shot and drive.”

        Ensminger's contribution can't be measured in numbers: He had no points, two rebounds an assist and a steal. But he gave Miami 11 minutes and three fouls on a night when he probably shouldn't have played. It was key against an XU team that had Miami outmanned inside.

        “I won't lie,” said Ensminger, who wears a brace to pro tect a herniated disk, “I'm hurting. But I can't pass up a chance to play Xavier.”

        Allendorf, the 6-foot-10 junior center, had two points, four rebounds and a blocked shot — all in the second half. Those aren't big numbers, but he was on the floor with the game on the line, someplace he's never been in his three years at Miami.

        “It was great,” he said. “Any time I can help the team win, it's good. But being from St.X High School and doing it against Xavier is big.”

        Allendorf's two biggest plays came late. With 3:24 to go, he grabbed an offensive rebound — one of only five Miami had — and flipped the ball to Grunkemeyer, who was fouled.

        Grunkemeyer hit both free throws to make it 54-50. On the other end, Allendorf took a charge. Anthony Taylor converted a free throw on the other end, and Miami had a 55-50 lead with 3:04 to go.

        Suddenly, the upset looked possible.

        “Rich made some key plays tonight,” MU point guard Rob Mestas said. “We need that from him. He's been around here awhile. He's showing he's worthy of playing time.”

        The Cincinnati three were glad their big night came against Xavier.

        “I think it does mean more against Xavier,” Grunkemeyer said. “They're basically a national power. We know all about Xavier. Then to beat them is a great feeling.”


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