Wednesday, February 09, 2000

Miami tries to end skid


Schedule isn't getting any easier

BY JOHN FAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Miami University enters tonight's game against Akron on a three-game losing streak. It has been nine years since the RedHawks lost four in a row.

        But the skid won't be the major motivation for Miami for the 7p.m. tipoff at Millett Hall.

AKRON at MIAMI
  • When: 7 p.m. today
  • Where: Millett Hall (9,200)
  • Records: MU 10-10 (6-6 Mid-American Conference), AU 16-6 (10-3)
  • TV: None
  • Radio: WCKY-AM (1360), WMOH-AM (1450), WFMG-FM (101.3)
  BY THE NUMBERS
  • 9: Number of years since Miami has lost four games in a row; a loss tonight would be the RedHawks' fourth straight
  • 5:05: Time remaining when Akron scored its last points in the Zips' 55-48 loss to Miami on Jan.15
  • 17: Numbers of points Akron guard Jami Bosley and Jimmal Ball combined for in the Jan.15 game, 14.8 below their combined average
        “This is a very, very important game for us,” MU coach Charlie Coles said. “Not because we lost three in a row, but because the last time we played at home, we didn't play very well.”

        The RedHawks lost to Toledo 71-61 on Feb.1 at Millett. It was Miami's worst overall performance of the season.

        “We didn't play well at all,” Coles said. “But people are finding out the Toledo Rockets are for real.”

        The same can be said of the Akron Zips.

        Akron (16-6, 10-3 Mid-American Conference) is tied for first in the MAC East with Kent. Miami is 10-10 overall and 6-6 in the MAC.

        But the RedHawks are 1-0 versus Akron this year. Miami beat the Zips 55-48 in Akron on Jan.15.

        “We did beat 'em, so we know we can,” Coles said.

        The converse is that Akron wants to get even.

        “Two things have really given us trouble this year,” Coles said. “One is when a team has really scouted us well and comes in with a superior game plan. The other is when they come in highly motivated.”

        The Zips have four senior starters in Jami Bosley (17.8 points a game) Jimmal Ball (14.0 ppg), George Phillips (9.2 ppg) and Ryan Andrick (14.4 ppg).

        “That's four players who have been through the wars,” Coles said, “and they haven't had a slice of the bacon.”

        Akron, the preseason MAC favorite, has never won a game in the conference tournament. The Zips haven't gone to the NCAA Tournament since 1986, when Bob Huggins was their coach.

        The two division winners and the third-place team overall get byes in this year's MAC tourney. That's what the Zips are shooting for. The fourth- through eighth-seeded teams host first-round games. That's what's at stake for Miami, which is tied for sixth overall.

        “We've got to match their emotion,” Coles said. “We've got to be motivated.”

        Jason Grunkemeyer, who has missed the last two games with a herniated disk in his back, is questionable tonight.

        It doesn't get much easier after today for Miami. Bowling Green (16-6, tied for second in the MAC East) visits Millett on Saturday. Miami then has road games at Ball State (14-7, tied for first in the MAC West) and at Ohio (14-7, fourth in the MAC East). Then Marshall (15-7, fifth in MAC East) comes to Oxford.

        “The whole month of February is tough,” Coles said.

       



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