RedHawks Sluggish in Exhibition Opener Print E-mail
Written by Mike Smith   
Sunday, November 09 2008
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Michael Bramos drives against SVSU's Greg Foster / Photo: Mike Smith
OXFORD, OH - With just four days remaining before their 2008 season opener, the Miami RedHawks sputtered to a 66-54 exhibition win Saturday over visiting Saginaw Valley State.

A 15-4 run to start the second half helped the RedHawks turn a 27-26 halftime lead into a 42-30 advantage with 14:24 remaining in the second half.
Ironically, the hosts made five of six free throws during the run. That contrasted sharply with Miamis charity stripe lack of success for the game as a whole. The RedHawks were 2 of 7 in the first half and 10 of 23 over the entire 40 minutes.
Miami coach Charlie Coles, returning to the sidelines after missing the final three weeks of the 2007-2008 season due to health issues, said free throw shooting has been an area of concern through much of the preseason preparations.
The score was tied three times and there were seven lead changes during a relatively even first half. Saginaw Valley State shot 36 percent from the field and made all four free throws while Miami connected on 37.5 percent of its shots from the field and was 2 of 7 from the line.
Saginaw Valley did a good job in the first half. Really, they controlled the game, and we let them control the game, Coles said. I thought we had more energy in the second half, but my question is, Why didnt we have that energy in the first half.
In the first half, we came out kind of lethargic, senior center Tyler Dierkers said. We have to take care of that.
With Tim Pollitz (first team all-MAC) gone and brother Eric Pollitz currently sidelined by an injury, the RedHawks worked through their only exhibition game with a number of combinations. According to Dierkers, the offense was somewhat tentative at times. Its definitely a little different (this year), he said.   
One player who hopes this year will be significantly different at least on a personal level - is Antonio Ballard. After playing in 15 games during the 2006-2007 season, Ballard received a medical redshirt after missing virtually all of last season due to a foot injury.
Im so excited to be out there, said Ballard, whose 16 points led Miami scorers. I was trying to bring some energy and push myself to the limit and build my stamina up.
Its encouraging with the way he played, Coles said.
Six of Ballards points came on three-point shots as he was the only Miami player to connect beyond the new distance of 20 feet, 9 inches. Its not really a factor for me, Ballard said of the new distance, which is one foot deeper than it has been at the collegiate level.
Miami was 2 of 13 from behind the line. Saginaw Valley State, meanwhile, was successful on 6 of 17.
Dierkers said Miami had been shooting three-pointers well in practice and would probably do better in that area when it got more shots following passes off penetration drives.
Dierkers joined Ballard in double figures with 10 points and also collected nine rebounds in 24 minutes. The RedHawks owned a 47-34 edge on the boards. They also benefited from 46 points in the paint, including 14 second chance points.
Senior point guard Kenny Hayes had 12 points, two steals, four rebounds and five assists. Six of his points came during the 15-4 Miami run to start the second half.
Sophomore forward Nick Winbushs eight points all in the second half and hustle drew praise from his coach. Nick Winbush did a good job. He came up with some loose balls. I like what he did, Coles said.
Among the new faces on the 2008 RedHawks team, freshman Julian Mavunga saw the most action. The 6-8, 252-pound power forward from Indianapolis could build on his role with this years squad. He had two points, five rebounds and a blocked shot Saturday during his 15 minutes of action. Hes big. Hes strong, but hes got to react better, Coles said.
As might be expected from a preseason exhibition, neither team singed the nets with hot shooting. Miami was successful with 41.5 percent of its shots from the field. The Cardinals hit on 35.1 percent of their field goal attempts.
The RedHawks wont be seeing their own hoops again in game conditions for nearly a month.
They open the season Wednesday against Weber State in Los Angeles as part of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Depending on the outcome of that contest and another game, Miami would face either UCLA or Prairie View A&M.
Games at Pittsburgh, Wright State, Xavier and Temple precede the December 6 home opener against Northwestern State.
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