Ever since upsetting the University of Illinois in Champaign Dec. 20, the hardwood has not been kind to the Miami University men’s basketball team.
After falling to the University of Kansas and University of Cincinnati to wrap up non-conference play, the RedHawks dropped their Mid-American Conference opener to the University of Akron. Saturday afternoon Miami looked to snap a season-long three-game losing streak and notch its first win in conference play against the Ohio University Bobcats.
Unfortunately for the RedHawks, the Bobcats were able to shutdown senior Tim Pollitz and the ‘Hawks fell 73-62, losing their fourth game in a row.
“I think (Ohio is) better than they were last year,” Miami Head Coach Charlie Coles said. “Their guard play is much faster than last year. My worries today are not only that they beat us, but that they beat us pretty good today.
Just like the Akron Zips, the Bobcats put one of their bigger players on Pollitz in an effort to shut him down. Bobcat forward Leon Williams was in Pollitz’s face all night, and held Miami’s main offensive weapon to just 13 points.
“Basically they tried to double team me every time I touched the ball,” Pollitz said. “Once I touched the ball they sent guys over the top. I’m not going to do a fade away over these guys so I had to kick it out. That’s how it went for the first half. I have to do a better job moving the ball around. Back in the day I used to catch the ball and do whatever I want. This year it’s been different.”
Pollitz has not been able to perform as well as last year because this year teams are preparing for him differently.
“People use to try and put guys Tim’s size on him and that’s tough to do,” Coles said. “Putting a guy like Leon Williams on him, and it’s much tougher on Tim.”
With Pollitz a main focus point for the Bobcats, it was up to the other RedHawks to shoot well and lead the team. However, Pollitz’s 13 points were a team-high for Miami, as junior Michael Bramos was the only other starter in double-figures with 11 points.
This pressure on Pollitz and the RedHawk squad in general is not unexpected, according to Pollitz, who thought the team would be a target after winning the MAC Championship last year.
“I think we have a little bit of a target on us after last year,” Pollitz said. “Teams are ready for us. We have a target after winning the tournament last year. We’ll make adjustments and get it done somehow.”
Ohio’s home crowd created a big advantage for the Bobcats, with school in session for Ohio, a loud and full stadium was on hand for the game.
“I think it’s very tough to play in here,” Pollitz said. “(The fans) are basically right on the court. It doesn’t affect us, but it definitely affects Ohio, having all that energy.”
Besides having the crowd to deal with, the RedHawks were unable to pickup defensive rebounds, allowing the Bobcats to collect 10 second chance points, off of 13 offensive rebounds. Ohio also turned 12 Miami turnovers into 14 more points.
Despite losing four in a row, the thing that concerns Coles the most he said was how his team will respond to losing to two conference opponents who are among the top teams in the MAC.
“We have to make sure we’re not shattered to the point that when we get a chance to play them again we’re not ready,” Coles said. “We need to make sure we have the energy to take the court with them again.”
Miami will finally return home to Millett Hall Thursday night where the RedHawks will continue MAC play and welcome the Kent State University Golden Flashes. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.