Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
Overall Rank: #73
Conference Rank: #2 MAC
2007-08: 17-16, 9-7, 3rd East
2007-08 postseason: CBI
Like many teams in the Mid-American Conference, Miami University has to replace a quality frontcourt player. Coach Charlie Coles has been in this situation many, many times before and he knows how to adjust his team to play to their strengths. The question is whether or not the RedHawks can find some more scorers this time around. Last year the team had three decent scorers and no other legitimate threats behind them.
And now Tim Pollitz, who averaged 15.5 points per game, is gone. The 6-5 forward was not just a scorer, he also led the team with 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists. It will take three players to pick up that slack. Alex Moosmann, who started 23 games as a sophomore, has opted to transfer after averaging 3.0 points per game during the 2007-2008 campaign.
Julian Mavunga is a versatile power forward who should immediately make an impact in Oxford. At 6-8 and 255 pounds, Mavunga has the size and the length to dominate the paint in the MAC. He can score with his back to the basket, grab plenty of rebounds and even block a few shots, yet he will need to continue to work on his offense while facing the basket before he will become a major scoring threat. Redshirt freshman Adam Thomas and incoming freshman Vince Legarza will add emergency depth in the paint. The lone newcomer on the perimeter is Kramer Soderberg. The 6-0 point guard will spend this year learning the ropes off the bench and could step into a starting position as soon as 2009-2010.
Who to Watch:
Few teams in the MAC have the experience, talent and size in their backcourt that the RedHawks will have this season. It all starts with Michael Bramos. The 6-5 wing does everything you can imagine. He hits the outside shot consistently, gets to the basket, grabs rebounds, passes the ball and even is fourth on Miami’s all-time blocked shots list. With Bramos leading the way, the RedHawks can win the conference. There is help on the wings. Eric Pollitz, brother of the departed Tim, is a good shooter and the likely candidate to step into the shooting guard role. Now a senior, Pollitz could fill a larger role on the team and start taking a few more shots. Sophomores Nick Winbush, Rodney Haddix and Antonio Ballard, who is back after only playing in one game last year due to an injury, have the potential to make some noise this year on the wings. So do Carl Richburg and Isiah Carson who, like the group of sophomores, averaged less than ten minutes per game last year. Despite all the options at the shooting guard and small forward spots, it is up to Kenny Hayes to run the point. He will get some help from Soderberg and Richburg, but Miami needs Hayes to have a good year if they want to make a run at an NCAA Tournament berth. Hayes is a good scorer, but he has yet to prove that he can be a solid ballhandler and floor leader day in and day out.
Tyler Dierkers is not a flashy big man, but the 6-8 center gets the job done. He averaged 6.1 points and 6.4 rebounds as the starting center last year. Without Tim Pollitz by his side, the pressure will be on Dierkers to pick up the slack. Adam Fletcher and Dwight McCombs are the only other experienced frontcourt players on the team. Yet, it is hard to call Fletcher and McCombs experienced. They both averaged under nine minutes per game. In fact, the RedHawks only had six players who averaged over ten minutes per contest last year. And with two of those six gone, it does not take a mathematician to know that one player is going to have to go from the bench to a starting role and at least one more will have to see a drastic increase in playing time.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Kenny Hayes, Senior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Eric Pollitz, Senior, Guard, 5.5 points per game
Michael Bramos, Senior, Forward, 16.2 points per game
Julian Mavunga, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
Tyler Dierkers, Senior, Center, 6.1 points per game