Saturday, March 1, 2003
BG offers opportunity for streaking Miami
Injury-depleted Falcons have lost seven straight
By Mark Schmetzer
Chet Mason has learned to appreciate Charlie Coles' ability to coach on the fly - even if it's a little confusing sometimes.
"Coach Coles is great," the redshirt sophomore guard said. "He just draws something up, and it always works - whatever he comes up with in a timeout on the little board. He gets the (players') numbers mixed up, but it always works."
Mason saw Coles work the magic again Tuesday, when the RedHawks coach devised attacks for Northern Illinois' zone and triangle-and-two defenses that helped Miami pull out a 59-56 victory.
The win was the RedHawks' fourth straight and ninth in their past 11 games. They are 13-11 overall and 11-4 in the Mid-American Conference.
The RedHawks took over first place in the MAC East Tuesday when Kent (11-5) was beaten by Marshall.
But if Coles sometimes gets his own players' numbers confused, imagine the trouble he'll have figuring out who's playing for Bowling Green when the two teams meet at 1 p.m. today at Anderson Arena.
The Falcons (10-14, 6-9 Mid-American Conference), who went into the season faced with the task of replacing all five starters from a 24-9 team, have seen three of their starters suffer season-ending injuries. The most recent was 6-foot-1 junior point guard Jabari Mattox, whose anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee was torn in practice Feb. 19. He joined 6-5 sophomore forward Germain Fitch (knee) and 6-8 junior forward Josh Almanson (ankle) on the sidelines.
The rash of injuries leaves Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich with six healthy scholarship players, whom he has supplemented with two football players and a walk-on. But the Falcons have lost nine of their last 10 games, including a current seven-game losing streak. Bowling Green's short bench is an advantage Coles might try to exploit.
"We may want to run up there," Coles said. "I think we can. We're not a running ballclub, but I think we're a team that can take advantage of the fast break. We're playing more guys. I've never played this many guys."
But Bowling Green is almost the same team that stormed back from a 24-point deficit to beat Kent State 78-74 on the Golden Flashes' home court Jan. 11. That loss snapped Kent State's MAC-record 17-game conference regular-season winning streak as well as the Golden Flashes' 17-game home winning streak.
"I've certainly had my problems at Bowling Green," said Coles, who is on a personal eight-game losing streak at Bowling Green, including 0-6 as Miami's coach. While coaching Central Michigan, he won his first four games at Anderson Arena before losing his last two. Joking, he added: "I may not go up there. They would do better without me."
Even without 6-5 sophomore forward Danny Horace, who will serve the second game of the two-game suspension he was handed after being involved in an altercation at Buffalo last Saturday, the RedHawks seem poised to snap that slump.
Miami's win over Central Michigan in their only meeting of the season gives the RedHawks the tiebreaker in the battle for the top seed in the MAC Tournament.
Miami at Bowling Green
Tipoff: 1 p.m. today, Anderson Arena (4,700), Bowling Green.
Records: Miami 13-11 (11-4 Mid-American Conference), Bowling Green 10-14 (6-9).
Radio: WCKY-AM (1360), WMOH-AM (1450), WFMG-FM (101.3).
Series: Miami leads 66-43.
Line: Miami by 1.
Coach: Charlie Coles (120-89, seventh season; 212-173 overall).
Coach: Dan Dakich (99-71, sixth season; same overall).
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