Sunday, February 9, 2003

Juby coming on strong for MU


Jr. has 3 straight 20-point games heading into matchup with BSU

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

This season hadn't even started when Miami's marketing department anointed Juby Johnson the "Mayor of Millett," and the junior guard lately has been stepping up to keep the RedHawks in contention for a good Mid-American Conference Tournament seed.

Johnson raised his average from 13.9 points a game to 15.3 after scoring more than 20 points in each of Miami's last three games. He had a career-high 26 in the RedHawks' win at Eastern Michigan and followed with team-high 21-point efforts in a win over Buffalo and a loss to Kent State.

That loss snapped Miami's five-game winning streak and dropped the RedHawks two games behind the Golden Flashes in the MAC East Division.

Johnson's leadership again will be in demand today when Miami (9-10, 7-3 MAC) travels to Muncie, Ind., for a rematch with Ball State (9-11, 4-6). The RedHawks edged the Cardinals 58-56 at Millett Hall Jan. 25.

Miami coach Charlie Coles says Johnson's development makes his job easier.

"I don't have to motivate them so much, because they motivate each other," Coles said. "Every good team that shows development develops from within. Juby's a guy like that."

Coles has found Johnson's progress so impressive that he compares him to Wally Szczerbiak, who led Miami to the Sweet 16 during the 1998-99 season.

"Juby does it a little different," Coles said, smiling at the memory. "Wally was mean. He'd say, 'Get that guy out of there.' Just to make him say it out loud, I'd say, 'Who?' I wanted the guy to know. Then I'd go up to that guy and say: 'Wally wants you out. You ain't got long, brother.'

"Juby's different. He's a lovable guy. You've got to like him. He might holler at a guy, tell him to pick it up, but then he's encouraging him, telling him, 'You can do it' - and it's working. He's our leader right now. He's really grown since he first came here."

Johnson's impact hasn't been lost on other teams. His third consecutive 3-pointer completed Miami's comeback from a 15-point second-half deficit in the 57-55 win over Buffalo.

"I hope you show up at my funeral one day and tell 'em how you put me a little deeper in the grave," Bulls coach Reggie Witherspoon told Johnson. "Man, you were sticking those 3s."

Said Witherspoon: "Those were momentum changers. The kid showed tremendous courage."

Coles wasn't surprised by the long shots - he encouraged them, especially after Miami had cut Buffalo's lead to two points and senior guard Doug Williams was controlling the ball near the top of the key with Johnson lurking on the left wing in front of the RedHawks' bench.

"I yelled to Doug, 'Let Juby do it,'" Coles said. Williams found Johnson, who sank the go-ahead 3-pointer, turned to Coles with arms spread wide and said with pride, "I did it."

Notes: The game was pushed back from Saturday to accommodate television ... Ball State is encouraging fans to wear white as part of a "White Out the RedHawks" promotion.

Miami at Ball State

Tipoff: 2 p.m. today, John E. Worthen Arena (11,500), Muncie, Ind.

Records: Miami 9-10 (7-3 Mid-American Conference), Ball State 9-11 (4-6).

Radio: WCKY-AM (1360), WMOH-AM (1450), WFMG-FM (101.3).

TV: Fox Sports Net Ohio.

Series: Miami leads 48-33.

Line: Ball State by 2.

MIAMI

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Juby JohnsonJr.6-515.3
Danny HoraceSo.6-511.2
Chet MasonJr.6-39.9
Josh HausfeldFr.6-36.4
Bryan ReedSr.6-62.7
Coach: Charlie Coles (116-88, seventh season; 208-172 overall).

BALL STATE

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Matt McCollomSo.6-212.1
Chris WilliamsSr.6-322.6
Robert OwensJr.6-77.6
Cameron EcholsJr.6-813.5
Kevin CatesFr.6-93.7

Coach: Tim Buckley (50-35, third season; 100-87 overall).




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