Saturday, December 01, 2001

RedHawks hope to find their offense vs. Raiders

Miami shooting just 37 percent

By Ian Duthie
Enquirer contributor

        After its worse loss ever in Millett Hall, 87-58 to Xavier Wednesday, Miami concludes its three-game homestand at 3 p.m. today against Wright State. RedHawks coach Charlie Coles hopes his players can put Wednesday night's disaster behind them.

        Nothing went right for the RedHawks in their largest defeat to the Musketeers, a rivalry that dates to 1921. Miami played poorly in every aspect of the game, prompting a frustrated Coles to call his squad “the worst college basketball team in America.”

        The RedHawks (1-2) have yet to establish an identity on offense, instead settling for too many perimeter shots from individuals incapable of making them, or sacrificing what may be an open shot.

        It's not what Coles is looking for in his structured and time-consuming offense. He would like to see the ball filtered through power forward Alex Shorts — his only true inside scoring threat — near the basket, hoping the defense will collapse on Shorts and leave perimeter players open.

        But Shorts has been unable to consistently establish inside position and has been saddled with foul troubles. He is averaging 12.7 points a game, down three points from last season's average, and has fouled out of two of the RedHawks' three games.

        Miami is averaging only 56.7 points a game and is shooting just 37 percent from the field while allowing its opponents to shoot 49 percent.

        More troubling for Coles was his team's lack of defensive intensity against Xavier. The Musketeers made 10 3-pointers, and forward David West scored 29 points.

        “It will take time for the offense to come around,” Coles said. “... We are not very good right now. But sometimes in order to get good, you have to play bad, learn from it. We have looked about as bad (offensively) as I would like before I see progress.”

        Wright State enters today's game with a 3-1 record, and its only loss is to Cincinnati, 83-54 at the Shoemaker Center. The Raiders are led by guard Jesse Deister, who is averaging 17 points a game and is shooting 56 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Seth Doliboa is averaging 16 points and 8.8 rebounds a game.

        Last season Miami lost 56-47 to Wright State at the Nutter Center in Dayton, the Raiders' first victory over the RedHawks in their last seven meetings.

        Eugene Seals, then a freshman, had his best offensive performance in that game, coming off the bench for a career-high 12 points and leading the RedHawks in scoring. But Seals, now a starter, is off to a slow start this season, averaging only three points a game.

        Coles hopes the two days of practice his team has had since Wednesday night's loss will help it improve from the worst in college basketball to one that is good enough to Wright State.

        “Wright State is going to be tough,” Coles said. “Every year we have to battle every minute in order to come out on top. From what I have seen, this will be the case again.”


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