Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Miami looks to get over .500

RedHawks host 4-17 Northern Illinois

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Five times this season Miami has won two games in a row. Each time, the RedHawks have stumbled trying to win the third.

  • When: 7 p.m. today.
  • Where: Millett Hall (9,200), Oxford.
  • Records: Miami 12-12 (8-5 Mid-American Conference), Northern Illinois 4-17 (3-9).
  • TV: None.
  • Radio: WCKY-AM (1360), WMOH-AM (1450).
  Mike Brown-6-0-Sr.-12.9
  Stephen Jones-6-1-Sr.-10.3
  Matt Nelson-6-9-Jr.-7.4
  Leon Rodgers-6-6-Jr.-17.3
  Marcus Smallwood-6-6-Fr.-5.3
  Coach: Brian Hammel (120-149, 10th season; 211-213 overall)
  Doug Davis-6-3-Jr.-9.1
  J. Grunkemeyer-6-5-Sr.-11.7
  Alex Shorts-6-8-Jr.-15.3
  Mike Ensminger-6-6-Sr.-6.27
  Juby Johnson-6-5-Fr.-5.8
  Coach: Charlie Coles (89-56, fifth season; 181-140 overall)
  • 53.9: The combined shooting percentage of Ensminger and Rich Allendorf.
  • 4: Times MU has won two straight games this season, then lost the next. It enters tonight on a two-game winning streak.
        They get another chance at a season-high three-game winning streak at 7 p.m. today against Northern Illinois at Millett Hall.

        “We know what happens with our streaks,” Miami coach Charlie Coles said. “We'll see what happens.”

        Tonight looks like a lock for Miami. NIU enters 4-17 overall and is 0-8 on the road.

        A victory would put the RedHawks (12-12) over .500 for the first time this season.

        But the RedHawks have had a tendency to lose games you don't expect them to lose, and to win games you don't expect them to win.

        One reason is that Miami averages 60 points a game and gives up only 57.5. So the RedHawks don't have a lot of weapons to come back with if they get down.

        “With the teams with Wal ly (Szczerbiak) and my first team,” Coles said, “we could pick our spots and say, "OK, let's go.' This team can't do that.”

        What this team has shown it can do is beat any team in the Mid-American Conference.

        The RedHawks, 8-5 in the MAC, are tied for fourth in the conference. They're the only team in the league to have beaten MAC West leader Central Michigan. The RedHawks also have a win over MAC East leader Kent State.

        Miami has won four of five games and is 8-4 since Jan.6. Two of those losses were in overtime, and another was by four points. Miami has played only one bad game (a 56-46 home loss to Akron Jan.24) in that period.

        Starting point guard Doug Davis missed five games in that stretch. Shooting guard Jason Grunkemeyer has battled a sprained ankle the last two games.

        “You've got to keep adjusting this time of year,” Coles said. “We've done a good job of that lately.”

        Miami got a huge boost the last time out from Grunkemeyer. He was not expected to play Sunday against Ball State because of his ankle injury. But he came off the bench and scored 21 points in a 66-53 win.

        “I honestly didn't think he was going to play,” Coles said. “It was one of the biggest surprises of my coaching career. He not only played, but he played well.”

        The RedHawks have reached the finals of the MAC tournament in each of Coles' four seasons as head coach.

        Now they appear to be peaking at the right time for such a run, but Coles cautions that it won't be easy. Last year, Miami was the No.8 seed.

        “We're not going to sneak up on anybody,” Coles said. “We've been in that national TV game four straight years. Other teams want the spot light. We've got to keep playing well and hope we get some breaks.”

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