Next up in our mid-season report card series are the surprisingly competitive RedHawks from Miami.
Record: 8-9 (4-2 MAC)
Best Win(s): at Bowling Green 70-65
Going on the road to knock off a Falcon team that was above .500 in MAC play and was also on a three-game winning streak was huge for the RedHawks. The win puts them in a three-way tie for second place in the East Division along with Buffalo and Ohio.
Important Losses: Western Michigan 77-78 in OT and at Akron 52-59
Pushing a Bronco team that was second place in the MAC West and challenging the Zips that won four straight entering the match-up will pay dividends for the Red and White later in the season. The ‘Hawks are 3-0 after the Akron loss.
Best Players: Will Felder and Quinten Rollins
Felder has been key to Miami's success this season as he has recorded team-highs with 15.1 points per game, 7.2 rebounds per game, 17 blocks on the season. Rollins ran the offense efficiently this season with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.92 and has made plays on defense with 44 steals on the season.
Players That Need to Step Up: Joshua Oswald and Jaryd Eustace
As a starter for the RedHawks, Oswald only contributes 5.6 points per game and 3.5 boards per contest in an average playing time of 20.6 minutes per game. He has also struggled with turnovers this season as he has turned it over eighteen times while only registering fourteen assists. Eustace has struggled coming off the bench as he has put up 5.4 points per game, 2.1 rebounds per game and 17 turnovers to 14 assists in an average of 17.1 minutes of action.
Glass Half Full: In MAC play, the RedHawks have had an efficient offensive attack with 78 assists compared to 63 turnovers. Miami has been stingy on defense as well, forcing 95 turnovers and tallying 57 steals in that six-game stretch. Eight of their remaining 13 games are in Millett Hall, where they are 4-2 this season.
Glass-Half Empty: Three of the four MAC wins by the ‘Hawks came against teams with losing records in Central Michigan and Ball State. They have yet to go through the heart of their MAC schedule, which includes multiple meetings with the Bobcats and Buffalo as well as games against Toledo and Akron. Miami has been out-rebounded 176-196 and out-blocked 15-5 in MAC games this season, which can prove to be a recipe for disaster considering the length of some of the teams in the conference.
Next Four Games: vs. Toledo, vs. Eastern Michigan, at Northern Illinois, at Ohio
Projection: Miami will look to remain competitive against the top tier of MAC teams and pick up some wins against some of the bottom feeders on its way to a .500 or better season in conference play, MU's first such season under John Cooper. The RedHawks will end up with a win or two in the MAC Tournament prior to falling to a quality team like Akron or Ohio.