Don't bother dwelling on Miami's 5-8 record.
Coach Charlie Coles challenged his team with several difficult road games, and his RedHawks responded admirably. They lost close games at No. 22 Kentucky, Xavier, Cincinnati and Illinois. The team's strength of schedule was 20th nationally coming into MAC play.
Proving a poor record was more indicative of a difficult schedule than an underperforming team, Miami bested Kent State in the MAC opener on Saturday.
Much like the Flashes, Miami is such a good program, it's hard to imagine the RedHawks being a below-average team.
Miami lost little to graduation other than All-MAC point guard William Hatcher. Here's how this year's lineup stacks up...
- Touted freshman Alex Moosmann stepped into Hatcher's role as the quarterback of the offense. He's a solid shooter who has led the RedHawks with a decent 1.67 assist-to-turnover ratio. Carl Richburg, a transfer from Southern Indiana (a school I didn't know existed), also plays a good chunk of minutes at the 1. In the media guide, Coles hinted to the fact that Richburg is either too selfish or immature to be a solid floor general at this point.
- Six-foot-five sophomore Michael Bramos starts at shooting guard. He is a versatile athlete who can shoot, play defense and run the floor. He is second on the team with 11.8 points per game. Backup guard Doug Penno had shot 40 percent from 3 coming into this season. Now, he's hovering around the Mendoza line at 24 percent. His scoring has fallen from 5.1 points per game to 3.7. Consistency had been a problem for Penno, but it's not anymore. He's just terrible across the board. Sophomore reserve Eric Pollitz scored 15 against Kent State.
- Junior Tim Pollitz, an honorable mention All-MAc player last year, returns as the small forward. He contributes 11.5 points per game. The Pollitz brothers are twins (Eric was redshirted).
- Senior power forward Nathan Peavy is unquestionably Miami's best player. He leads the team in scoring (15.2) and rebounding (7.1). The 6-8 Dayton native, much like Tim Pollitz, is versatile enough to shoot from long range and score off the dribble.
- Monty St. Clair, a 6-9 center, injured his foot against Dayton on Dec. 20. Tyler Dierkers has played OK in filling in the past two games. The Zips won't worry about offense from the center regardless of who is playing.
Miami has the ninth-worst offense in the nation -- at least statistically -- by scoring 55.7 points a game. On the other hand, the RedHawks allow only 55.5 points per game, which is among the nation's best.
They don't take care of the ball particularly well, but their defense makes up for it. Miami's assist-to-turnover ratio is 0.9 compared to its opponents' 0.7 mark.
Akron and Miami might not combine for 130 points. I'll have my prediction and the newspaper previews tomorrow.
- The Zips fell to 18th in this week's Mid-Major Top 25. Ohio moved up three spots to 21st.
- With RPI, Ohio is 71st. Akron is No. 144. Miami is 133rd.
- MACReportOnline.com says those three teams are tops in the conference in this order: OU, UA and MU. That should tell you more about Miami's misleading record.
- Akron probably will get an additional televised game. FSN will show a MAC Game of the Week that is to be determined on Feb. 10, the Saturday Akron travels to MAC West favorite Toledo, which is another team I believe will play much better during conference play.
David Harvey added to his accolades recently by earning a spot on the Scripps Freshman All-American Team as a kick returner.
What's funny is few teams would kick to him after the North Texas game, when he nearly ran two balls back for scores. Harvey probably deserves more recognition as a receiver.