Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Miami basketball preview



ROSTER
Player Pos. Height Class Hometown/school
Matt Jameson G 6-1 Jr. Newport Bch, Calif./Newport Hrbr
Larry Drake F 6-5 Jr. Groveport/Groveport-Madison
Chester Mason G 6-2 So. Cleveland/South
Juby Johnson G 6-5 So. Warrensville Heights/War. Hghts.
Doug Williams G/F 6-4 Jr. Piketon/Piketon
Ben Helmers G 6-1 Sr. Hamilton/Badin
Eugene Seals F 6-6 So. Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw
Nate VanderSluis C 6-11 Fr. Oak Harbor/Oak Harbor
Doug Davis G 6-3 Sr. Columbus/Westland/Mich. St.
Bryan Reed F 6-6 Jr. Terre Haute, Ind./North
Brian Edwards F 6-7 Sr. Detroit/Mackenzie
Danny Horace F 6-5 Fr. Cincinnati/Western Hills
Alex Shorts F/C 6-8 Sr. New Orleans/San Jacinto JC
Tim Schenke F 6-7 Fr. Cincinnati/Elder

     Frontcourt

     Senior power forward Alex Shorts is the RedHawks' best player. In his first year in Oxford after transferring from junior college, Shorts led the team in scoring (15.7 ppg) and was second in rebounding (5.5 rpg). At 6-feet-8, Shorts proved he had the size to score in the paint and shooting touch to score from the outside, making him a threat whenever he touches the ball. Coach Charlie Coles says Shorts is as good as any offensive player in the league and expects even bigger things from a player who earned second-team all-MAC honors last season.

     Returning starter Juby Johnson is a year older and stronger after being the only RedHawk to appear in every game last season. Johnson needs to shoot the ball better after making only 40 percent of his shots (27 percent on 3-pointers).

     Johnson was named to the MAC all-freshman team. Center Brian Edwards is a favorite of Coles, who says his game has greatly improved in the offseason. Edwards will get a shot at starting after two seasons on the bench. He is the teams only real center and his ability to rebound is a key to the success of Miami's season.

     Backcourt

     Senior Doug Davis will move to the shooting guard position as newcomer Chester Mason will take over at point guard. Davis likely will be the RedHawks' second scoring option and is as effective shooting the 3-pointer as he is driving to the basket.

     He played his best ball at the end of the year, earning all-MAC tournament honors after battling injuries throughout the regular season. Davis needs to stay out of foul trouble, which plagued him last season; he fouled out eight times.

     Coles needs his leader on the court, not sitting by him on the bench. It will take time for Mason to adjust to the structure of Miami's offense, but his speed and ballhandling should help Miami get some easy baskets in transition. After sitting out last season as an academic partial qualifier, Mason will be a key contributor.

     Bench

     Miami continues to build depth to give Coles a number of possible starting lineups. Shorts and Davis are the only definite starters in Coles' mind. Eugene Seals is considered the team's best athlete. His leaping ability helped him lead the team in blocked shots (12) last season at 6-6. Freshman Danny Horace is an athletic forward whose game takes him above the rim. Point guard Matt Jameson saw extended time last season when Davis was injured and played his best in big games.

     Jameson gives MU much-needed experience and depth at the point in case Mason fights through the growing pains. Larry Drake showed the ability to make outside shots (34 percent on 3-pointers), but he'll need to be more consistent with his overall play. Senior Ben Helmers has played little in his first three years but Coles likes guys who can make open outside shots, and shooting is Helmers' specialty.

     Notable numbers

     • The RedHawks return more than 60 percent of their scoring and 60 percent of their rebounding, including three starters from a team that reached the conference title game for a record fifth straight year.

     • Miami has finished .500 or better the last 11 seasons.

     • Coles needs six wins for 100 at Miami and 14 wins to reach 200 in his career. His 94 victories at MU rank him third all-time behind Dick Shrider (126) and Darrell Hedric (216).

     Intangibles

     Injuries are always a key to the success of a team and Miami is no different. Already they have lost freshman center Nate VanderSluis (6-11, 310) to a broken foot and they were counting on him for added depth in the frontcourt. Injuries to Shorts and Davis would be difficult to overcome as the only two proven scorers. Shorts carried the RedHawks at times last season and should be better following an offseason that saw him drop weight and add muscle. Young guys such as Johnson, Seals and Mason have to play up to their potential if Miami is to make it to its sixth straight MAC title game.

     Games to watch

     • Nov. 19 vs. George Mason: George Mason narrowly lost to eventual Final Four participant Maryland in the first round of the last season's NCAA Tournament.

     • Nov. 28 vs. Xavier: This annual rivalry has been a very even matchup with the home team winning the past seven games.

     • Dec. 8 vs. Notre Dame: No more Troy Murphy but Coles says ND has a quicker team. Miami has won the last four meetings.

     • Dec. 16 at Southern California: USC advanced to the Elite 8 last season but lost five lettermen.

     - Ian Duthie

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