March 15, 2011
Miami Ohio The TSX Files: Insider college basketball report.
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RedHawks face Rhode Island for first time
A visit to Rhode Island for Wednesday night's first-round game in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament won't be an easy assignment for the RedHawks.
Fortunately, coach Charlie Coles' team is well prepared to play in tough situations.
Miami (16-16) had one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country, which included games against three teams that earned No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament -- Ohio State, Duke and Kansas.
The RedHawks also played San Diego State, Cincinnati and Xavier. While beating the Musketeers is the only win Miami had to show for its scheduling, playing top teams should help the RedHawks as they prepare for Rhode Island.
Miami finished second in the Mid-American Conference East standings and earned the No. 3 seed in the league tournament, where they dropped an 82-75 decision in double overtime to Akron in the quarterfinals. The RedHawks were 11-5 in the league after going 5-9 in early non-conference play.
"The toughest thing is when you have a good season, but you're only 16-16," Coles said.
Miami managed to go 7-5 after a season-ending wrist injury to senior forward Antonio Ballard in late January. The RedHawks were in contention for the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament going into the final game of the regular season.
"Injuries are a part of the game, but I would have liked to have played with a full deck," Coles said.
Rhode Island lost to eventual champion Richmond in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Rams finished 19-13 overall record and 9-7 in the A-10. This is the first meeting between the teams.
at Rhode Island
March 16, 2011
College Basketball Invitational, first round
KEY MATCHUPS: The Rams are a tournament-tested team, having played in the NIT the last three seasons. Miami will have to control forward Delroy James. The 6-foot-8 senior averages 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. Senior guard Marquis Jones will test the RedHawks' backcourt. He's averaging a career-best 11.4 points and leads the team in assists (3.7) for the third consecutive season.
SCOUTING REPORT: The RedHawks need to avoid a first half like they had against Akron when they scored 10 points, a tournament record for fewest points in a half. Forwards Julian Mavunga and Nick Winbush combined to go 5-for-17 in the loss. Long scoring droughts have been a problem for Miami in the past. The RedHawks had overcome that issue for most of this season, but it came up again at the worst possible time.
KEYS TO VICTORY: The loss to Akron was draining physically and mentally. Although the RedHawks had five days off, the effects of the game might linger. Not only did the game drag on for 50 minutes, Miami had to overcome a 20-point deficit in the second half, which made every possession on both ends of the floor a test of wills. The RedHawks must regroup to stay with a Rhode Island team that has plenty of postseason experience.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That was one of the best games ever played in this tournament." -- Coach Charlie Coles after Miami's double-overtime loss to Akron in the Mid-American Conference quarterfinals.
- This is Miami's second appearance in the CBI. The RedHawks played in the inaugural tournament in 2008, losing to eventual CBI champion Tulsa. In Coles' tenure, the RedHawks have also appeared in the NCAA in 1997, 1999 and 2007 and in the NIT in 2005 and 2006.
- Poor free-throwing shooting hurt Miami badly in the loss to Akron. The RedHawks missed their last eight attempts and were 20-for-36 for the game.
- Junior F Julian Mavunga said after the Akron loss that he was going to practice his free-throw shooting the next day. He was 10-for-19 from the and missed all four of his attempts in the second overtime. Mavunga played all 50 minutes, finishing with 14 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and seven turnovers.
- Senior F Nick Winbush fouled out in regulation against Akron after scoring nine points with five rebounds. He averages 12.6 points and 7.1 rebounds.
- Sophomore G Orlando Williams also fouled out against Akron after playing 44 minutes. He scored 16 points, making all three of his 3-point attempts, and had five rebounds.