I didn't always look forward to seeing X play his teams because I knew something like a dire 51-47 win was probably the best case scenario, but it's hard not to have some love for Charlie Coles. Life and basketball, as the always do, continue to go on. Xavier will play host to Miami (OH) on Tuesday, November 19th, continuing the local rivalry the teams have cultivated over the years. Here is what to expect when the RedHawks invade Cintas.
It's hard to be the guy who follows the legend, and it's gotta be even more difficult to follow Charlie Coles. John Cooper - late of Tennessee State - was tasked with just that, and he got off to a rocky start with a 9-22 debut season. Putting an even mediocre defense on the floor has been a struggle for Cooper, as two of his three teams at Tenn. St and the RedHawks last year ranked 245th or lower in adjusted defensive efficiency. Gambling for TO seems to be the plan for Cooper, as he has put three of his four teams in the top 50 in TO% at the expense of having never ranked better than 250th in the nation in EFG%. His teams also routinely get crushed on the defensive glass.
The news isn't that much better on the other end of the court, as the RedHawks were a steady below-average across the board in offensive stats on their way to ranking 253rd in adjusted offensive efficiency last season. They turned the ball over like it has been greased, rebounded poorly, shot poorly, and generally struggled to make any headway on offense. They also played at a 65-possession pace, good for 204th in the country.
You would hope the bad news would stop there for Miami, but it doesn't. Leading scorer Allen Roberts, a 6'3" guard, is transferring out to Penn State, taking his 12.3/2.6/1.6 game line on .388/.338/.798 shooting with him. He wasn't a very efficient scorer, but he used a lot of possessions and leaves a big hole. Six-foot-eight forward Jon Harris took his 8.5/4.2/1.1 line on .451/.385/.647 shooting to Cleveland State. Harris was the team's most efficient scorer and also got called for fouls at a faster clip than any of his teammates.
Role players Drew McGhee and Vince Legarza combined to average 6.8 and 3.9 in 22 minutes per game, but now McGhee is at Kennesaw State and Legarza has graduated and moved on with his life. Josh Sewell, a 6'5" jump shooter, will remain at Miami but is no longer part of the team. Ouch. The transition between coaches is rarely a smooth one, but there was a lot of roster shuffling for the RedHawks this summer as Cooper settled in and players had some time to decide if he was the coach for their futures.
It's not all bad news for Miami fans, though. Rising senior Will Felder is back. The 6'7", 202-pound forward put up a 11.6/5.3/0.9 line, shot .521/.269/.784, and was the team's most efficient defensive rebounder. He also averaged a blocked shot per game. Six-foot-one rising sophomore Reggie Johnson was good for 8.4/2.3/1.1 per game last season as a freshman; he also picked up 1.3 steals per game but turned the ball over at almost twice that clip.
Senior Bill Edwards picked up just six games of playing time last year before picking up an injury. He'll be back for another swing through this season.
Guard Geovonie McKnight's 5.4/2.5/1.6 game line came on a .348/.269/.671 shooting effort last year, and the 6'1", 175-pound rising sophomore will be back and looking for a large role in the offense this season. Quentin Rollins played 28.6 minutes per game and easily led the team in assists, outpacing his nearest competition by a rate of more than 2-to-1. His usage rate of 16.7% and shot rate of 12.6% make perfect sense in light of his .428/.267/.427 shooting line. Not much else of note is coming back for the team.
Miami is bringing in a pair of freshmen from Australia, the first of whom is Joshua Oswald. Oswald is a 6'7", 210-pound forward who can play the post or the wing, but he is at his best at the 3 or as a stretch 4. He put home 22 and 11 as a senior in high school. Jaryd Eustace is also 6'7", 210, but he plays mostly as a combo guard. He went for 17/7/4 with 2 steals per game as a senior en route to winning his conference's MVP award. It goes without saying that a player his size playing the point is a matchup nightmare.
Blake McLimans is a 6'10", 240-pound forward/center/pitcher who will play almost exclusively the former two positions for Miami's basketball team. He transfers in as an immediately eligible graduate student from Michigan, where poured home 11 and 13 last year. Not per game; he had 11 points and 13 boards all season. Miami also added a pair of transfers who will not be eligible to play until next season. Neither player figures to factor in this year's game against Xavier.
Cooper has his work cut out for him this season. It's hard to say about a team that finished 9-22 last year, but the RedHawks look to be heading backward before they move forward. Cooper dispatched a few more of the players that he didn't bring in, and he is in the process of remaking the roster to be what he wants. In the meantime, I think it's going to be an ugly season for Miami unless things break unexpectedly well for them.