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Miami (OH) Vs. NC State Preview: New-Look RedHawks Head To Raleigh

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New Miami head man John Cooper has plenty of work ahead of him.

Streeter Lecka

Miami (OH) @ StatSheet
2012 Stats
2013 Roster
2013 Schedule

Miami (OH) Offense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.7 99
Turnover Rate 21.9 266
Off Reb Rate 26.8 311
FTA/FGA 31.3 298

Hello, friends, and welcome to another basketball season. Before I get started, I want to once again spend a few words on tempo-free stats, and why I use them so extensively in my hoops coverage.

------- And now the obligatory What The H Is Going On Here? section --------

(Feel free to skip this section if you're familiar with all of the stats contained in this post.)

Did you look at that box above and wonder what the hell I'm talking about? That's quite all right, I get that a lot. If you aren't familiar with the format of these basketball previews, or you're new to the tempo-free concept, Ken Pomeroy's definitions page is a good reference. Most of the stats I'll use this season are defined right there.

But why these stats? What's wrong with the numbers in a traditional box score? It's all about gaining clarity through greater context. There's nothing inherently wrong with the stats in a box score (well, except rebound margin), but they're mostly counting stats, so they are influenced by a lot of factors and don't say a whole lot on their own. The foundational tenet is this: college basketball teams play at different speeds, which affects the number of shots they take, make, and rebound; it affects how many shots their opponents take, make, and rebound; it impacts turnover totals, foul totals, assist totals, steal totals, and on and on. The difference between the fastest and slowest team in I-A last season was around 20 possessions per game. This can create distortion in counting stats. Say they both average 15 turnovers per game. Is their ability to take care of the ball equivalent, as the per-game averages suggest? Well, one of them turns it over 15 times for every 80 possessions, while the other turns it over 15 times for every 60 possessions. That paints a bit of a different picture.

So the only way to put them on even terms is to take pace out of the equation, which is exactly what tempo-free stats do. There are a lot of percentages involved, but the nice thing about basketball, unlike baseball, is that the majority of these figures are straightforward. In many cases, we're simply changing the denominator. Points per possession (offensive efficiency) rather than points per game, turnovers per possession (turnover rate or TO%) rather than turnovers per game.

I'd best stop there before this spirals out of control, but if you have questions, I'm always happy to help. And there are resources linked right here.

------- End of obligatory What The H Is Going On Here? section --------

The Miami RedHawks finished 2011-12 just 9-21 overall, which was their lowest win total in 25 years. It was also the program's third losing season in a row, and it cost head coach Charlie Coles his job. Coles, who was Herb Sendek's replacement, started strong with the leftovers from Sendek's program, but never accomplished much of anything after those first few seasons.

Coles' teams were marked by a glacial pace, and that usually doesn't help public opinion when combined with poor performance. Enter John Cooper, whose head coaching track record is short but encouraging, and he's promised to totally be like way different than the last guy, as new hires often do. He spent part of his introductory press conference telling the people in attendance that he wants an up-tempo team that plays pressure defense.

Time will tell if Cooper can deliver. That philosophy certainly runs counter to what Coles had established over more than a decade at the school, and an overhaul of the roster may be necessary before Cooper really is in position to get what he wants. But if his brief tenure at Tennessee State is an indication, he is capable of rebuilding a program into a winner. Tennessee State won nine games in his first year, 14 the next, and 20 in his final season there.

At Miami, Cooper will have to start without the team's two leading scorers from a year ago. Julian Mavunga was a versatile scorer for the RedHawks, though not particularly efficient. Still, he leaves a lot of possessions to be replaced. Freshman Brian Sullivan was the most frequent and accurate three-point shooter on a squad that relied heavily on threes, but he decided to transfer out of the program.

Three-point shooting was this offense's strength a year ago--the RedHawks took a bunch and hit a respectable 35.8%. Will they continue that three-heavy style under their new coach, and how will Sullivan's absence affect their overall accuracy in 2013?

Startery-Type Persons

Quinten Rollins (6-0, 185) -- Rollins logged about three quarters of Miami's minutes last year, and he figures to have the ball in his hand a bit more this season, especially with Brian Sullivan off to Davidson. Rollins wasn't a big part of the offense in either of his first two seasons and his range is limited. He should bring decent assist and steal rates to the RedHawks in 2012-13, but turnovers may be an issue.

Josh Sewell (6-5, 202) -- Sewell posted a 50.3 eFG% last year in part thanks to 38.8% shooting from three, but like many members of the RedHawks, his offensive rating is poor thanks to problems elsewhere. Many members of the team were prone to turnovers last season, and Sewell was no exception.

Will Felder (6-7, 202) -- The best candidate for offensive leader might be newcomer Will Felder, who spent two seasons at St. Francis (PA) prior to coming to Miami. At St. Francis, he was not at all shy about shooting the basketball, and he was an effective scorer in the piant, while also holding his own from beyond the arc (32-33%). He rebounded pretty well at both ends and affected shots at the defensive end, but like the rest of this Miami team, could stand to cut down on the turnovers. He led Miami in points, rebounds and field goal attempts in the RedHawks' exhibition game.

Jon Harris (6-8, 206) -- Harris saw a huge jump in playing time last season and stepped up accordingly--despite his size, though, don't go expecting him to bust a move in the low post all night. He took 155 threes last year (hitting 37.7%) compared to just 60 twos (51.7%). He rarely earned trips to the line (26 FTA in 998 minutes played) and didn't rebound well at either end, which certainly points to a guy who likes to hang around the perimeter.

Drew McGhee (6-11, 236) -- Hit 59.2% of his twos last season, though he didn't log a lot of minutes. He needs to cut down on fouls and pick up his defensive rebounding effort to earn more playing time this year.

Bench/Other Possible Startery-Types

Allen Roberts (6-3, 214), Will Sullivan (6-3, 183), Geovonie McKnight (6-3, 175), Bill Edwards (6-6, 245), Vince Legarza (6-9, 265). Roberts, Sullivan, and Legarza started the exhibition game. Roberts missed all of last season with a knee injury, but he was a regular for Miami in the two seasons prior. Sullivan and Legarza played sparingly last season and were not good at anything. Bill Edwards also played little and did nothing of note last season; McKnight is a true freshman.

Miami (OH) Defense 11-12
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 50.6 239
Turnover Rate 18.8 241
Off Reb Rate 32.2 175
FTA/FGA 36.0 168

The RedHawks weren't good at forcing missed shots inside or out, and those sub-par turnover and rebounding rates compounded matters. All together, it meant the RedHawks had trouble ending possessions in ways that were actually, you know, good for them. Cooper's system should help improve that turnover rate--his Tennessee State teams never had a TO rate under 20.5 and twice finished in the top 50 nationally in that category. The gains made there could be negated by declines in Miami's 2FG% defense and defensive rebounding, though.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes State by 18.