Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Previews in the paint: Miami

It's the dream of every retiring coach to go out on a high note.

For Charlie Coles, the 2011-2012 was more about injuries than wins, a finish no coach dreams of. The RedHawks went a dismal 9-21 in Coles' 16th season as Miami's coach, the school's worst single-season win percentage since 1969-70. 

Despite the brutal record, Coles, 70 years old, still left a winner.  He finished as Miami's all-time leader in wins with 263, as well as the MAC's all-time victory leader with 218, some of that time spent at Central Michigan.

With Coles enjoying retirement, John Cooper will lead the RedHawks after leading a program revival at Tennessee State University, ending the school's streak of 15 straight losing seasons.  Coopers' Tiger squad was the only team to beat Murray State in the regular season and lost by just two points in the Ohio Valley championship game.

Cooper inherits an interesting squad, to say the least.  Last season's All-MAC forward Julian Mavunga, who led the RedHawks in every statistical category except 3-pointers and steals, has graduated.  The second-leading scorer, then freshman guard Brian Sullivan, transferred to Davidson following Cooper's arrival in Oxford.

That leaves an obvious hole in the Miami offense, but some veterans are ready to fill them.  Bill Edwards, who was injured last season, should be good to go.  He started strong last season with a 14 point, 10 rebound game against Dayton and a 21 point, eight rebound game against Xavier.  After seven games though, he underwent season-ending surgery on his wrist.  The RedHawks will rely on his health for their front-court game this season.

Also a 2011-2012 injured player, redshirt junior guard Allen Roberts will return to the RedHawks' lineup.  In his sophomore season, Roberts averaged 7.9 points in 24 minutes per game.

Charlie Coles' influence will remain at Miami in several ways, especially in the scheduling. Loving to prepare for the MAC season with a loaded non-conference schedule, the RedHawks will meet #3 Louisville, #6 NC State, and Dayton. While that may not help a coach in his inaugural season, Miami could prove to be a surprise in the MAC. In the MAC East Division preseason poll, though, the RedHawks are predicted to finish last.

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