For years, Miami has been playing tough nonconference schedules. The RedHawks would build an ugly win-loss record and even lose a couple of early MAC games.
But Charlie Coles' RedHawks always found their identity and contended for a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament.
This year appears to be different than prior years. Miami got off to its usual slow start, but the RedHawks have been too depleted to claw into the top half of the conference.
Before you say, "Is it time for Coles to step down?"--consider this: Three Miami starters are not playing. Point guard Allen Roberts was one of the top returning point guards. He and Penn State transfer Bill Edwards are injured. A third, swingman Orlando Williams, left school after he was arrested on suspicion of burglary. Williams played 31.9 minutes per game last season, averaging 9.8 points.
How would Akron be faring without Alex Abreu, Quincy Diggs and Nick Harney? That's the magnitude of Miami's loss this season.
The RedHawks allow the highest opposing field goal percentage of any MAC team. As you might expect without the point guard, Miami's assist-to-turnover ratio is 0.8, among the conference's worst.
Without a point guard creating open shots, Miami's offense is mostly Julian Mavunga and 3-point shots. Freshman Brian Sullivan is the guy who Akron needs to worry about behind the arc. He has made the second-most 3s of any MAC player this season.
Through Miami's struggles this season, it has become common knowledge that, unfortunately, Coles is pondering retirement. The MAC will truly be worse off without this exceptional man on the sidelines. Coles turned 70 a week ago today, but he has also battled heart problems.
Akron should win its 11th MAC game on Wednesday at Rhodes Arena. Perhaps the more interesting game is Kent State vs. Buffalo tomorrow evening at the M.A.C. Center.