After an exhibition game tomorrow night against Central State, the Miami RedHawks host Detroit on Friday, November 10th at 2p.m to start their season. Obviously this is a very busy time for new head coach Megan Duffy, but she was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the upcoming season.
1. You were a star guard as a player and have gone on to raise the play of the guards that you have coached. Lauren Dickerson was freshman of the year last season. When I learned of your hiring, my first thought was that this is a match made in heaven. What are some other positives you have found since taking the job in Oxford? What has been fun to see since arriving to Oxford is our team's eagerness to learn. They have bought into the changes our coaching staff has made to make our team mentally and physically tougher on a daily basis. That has started with our seniors and returning MAC freshman of the year, in Lauren Dickerson. While we understand that this will be a process, I am proud of the steps we have already made going to into the season. Lauren has already grown tremendously from a leadership side and everyday it has been fun to share my knowledge with her from the point guard position.
2. The freshman class of guards in the MAC was impressive last year, Alongside Dickerson, Mariella Santucci at Toledo, Janae Poisson at Northern Illinois, and Amani Burke at Ohio also stood out, among others. Do you anticipate this depth of talent to help all the players raise their level of play in the years to come? It is great to see that our conference is in good hands with the young players you mentioned. That is a testament to the high level recruiting that is being done in our league. The MAC will be a staple for years to come if you have the foundation of older experienced players as well as the young talent coming in. Our coaches across the league are raising the bar for one another each and every year.
3. In regards to style of play, what are some changes we can expect to see this season? Our style of play at Miami will continue to evolve this year and into the future. I love giving players the freedom to create and make plays within a simple system. We want to play fast and with a great pace. At the same time, we will emphasize taking care of the ball and doing all the little things it takes to win games- such as taking charges, diving on the floor for a loose ball, and winning the rebounding battle.
The Miami RedHawks finished last season 11-21 overall and 5-13 in the MAC. They started the conference slate with three straight losses, followed by a win against EMU, and then 6 more losses. The young players started to gel and they finished up the last 8 games 4-4. 2 of those losses were by one possession.
Going into this season, there are lots of reasons for optimism. Not only was there that solid finish, they also return virtually everyone. The top 11 scorers return, and 9 of them logged at least 5 starts. Their leading scorer was the MAC Freshman of the Year and the new coach is a rising star. I think it’s a testament to just how deep the league is this season that Miami is only number 11 in our opening rankings. Because of all the positives, it’s a fluid 11, which could change quickly after only a few games.
I am really interested to see how this more open and free wheeling style will play out. A wide open floor should allow the 5’3 Lauren Dickerson more room to operate. Considering she averaged 16.3 points per game last season, the sky is the limit. I thought that Miami did a good job of dictating play and keeping teams contained at the end of the season. If they can keep that going while adding in some more points, the process could be relatively short in turning them into a contender in the East.