Saturday, December 18, 1999

Miami hurting for Wright State


RedHawks will rely on bench

BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Miami University basketball team made a medical breakthrough this week.

        “We've turned a bad back into a communicable disease,” MU coach Charlie Coles said, jokingly.

WRIGHT ST. at MIAMI
  • When: 7 p.m. today
  • Where: Millett Hall (9,200)
  • Records: MU 3-3, WSU 2-6
  • TV: None
  • Radio: WCKY-AM (1360), WMOH-AM (1450), WFMG-FM (101.3)
  BY THE NUMBERS
  • 31: Number of points by which Miami beat Wright State in the last meeting, 89-58, on Dec. 14, 1996
  • 36-3: Record of Charlie Coles, in his fourth year as Miami's coach, at Millett Hall. .412: Opponents' shooting percentage from the field against Miami
        Coles may be laughing to keep from crying. Starting forward Mike Ensminger, who has a bad back, won't play tonight at 7 when the RedHawks face Wright State at Millett Hall. And leading scorer Anthony Taylor is doubtful with a bad back.

        That puts Miami, 3-3 and winner of two straight, in a vulnerable position against Wright State. The Raiders are 2-6 with victories over South Alabama and Praire View A&M.

        But Coles see the Raiders as dangerous, particularly given the injuries to Taylor and Ensminger and the fact that Miami is coming off exam week.

        Wright State will be ready. The Raiders are coached by Ed Schilling, a former Miami player and the RedHawks' all-time assists leader.

        “It's going to be emotional for him,” Coles said. “They'll be fired up. That makes a difference. People say, "But he doesn't play.' But he's in the locker room before the game and at halftime and has an influence on the players.”

        Still, Miami should be able to beat Wright State at Millett, a place the where the RedHawks have won 16 straight. But Coles says it won't be easy.

        “This is a tough game for us,” Coles said. “We're playing a team that hasn't done well. They're getting their best player from last year, (Kevin) Melson, back. We're getting ready to go on vacation. I just hope we don't go vacation before the game.”

        Coles is giving the players a week off for Christmas after today's game because the RedHawks don't play again until they visit rival Dayton Dec.29.

        “This time of year it doesn't do any good to practice when you're not playing,” Coles said. “And kids should be home for Christmas.”

        But in Miami's case, the holidays will be a lot nicer if the RedHawks go into the break with a victory. A win would assure the RedHawks of a .500 record in the pre-Mid-American Conference schedule. Against the schedule Miami played — two of the three losses were to ranked teams — that would be a nice accomplishment.

        Coles said Jason Stewart, the RedHawks' second-leading scorer at 12.7 points per game, will start for Taylor, and 6-foot-10 Rich Allendorf will start for Ensminger.

        The victories over Xavier and Notre Dame rebuilt Miami's confidence.

        “We've played two good games in a row,” Coles said. “But with this team, it's game to game.”

       



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