As the snow falls in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, the Duquesne Dukes hit the road again to face the RedHawks for Dollar Day in Miami, Ohio. Miami should be right at home with snow, as their hockey team has been in the top 15 in the polls every week this year. While known as a hockey school, Miami has had on and off success on the hardwood for the women, making the WNIT each of the last two years. Last year the RedHawks gave the Dukes their most devastating loss of the year, a home loss 54-49. It was the only loss outside of the top 100 for the Dukes and the one that could have kept the Dukes out of the NCAA Tournament in March. The year before, Duquesne needed a pair of stops in the last minute to defeat Miami (Ohio) by 1, 64-63, on Education Day. Miami always seemed to bring out their best game against Atlantic 10 opponents as they play a style that gives Atlantic 10 teams trouble. However, this time around should be different. Gone is Courtney Osborn, Miami’s heart and soul from last year. While not drafted, Osborn was in the top 30 on many WNBA draft prediction sites. From my perspective, in the game last year the Dukes were so concerned with Osborn that they let then-senior Kirsten Olowinski as well as Kelsey Simon dominate inside the paint. Without the attention Osborn received, I don’t envision a player like Simon being able to repeat her performance from last year. Miami is also breaking in a new coach from last year, as Cleve Wright takes over after Miami plucked him from Gannon.
Projected Starters for Miami:
Freshman forward Nicole Anderson is the player to watch for the RedHawks. She’s the current leader in both points and rebounds for the RedHawks, averaging 11.5 and 8.8. Nicole originally committed to Bowling Green when Bowling Green went 24-6 the year before, but changed her mind with the coaching change at Bowling Green. From watching a quick highlight reel, she also has a smooth shot from midrange as well as even outside from three.
Hannah Robertson, now a senior, is back at guard for Miami. Robertson filled up the stat sheet last year. She was second for Miami-Ohio in assists, third on the team in points (9.6), third in rebounds, and led the team in steals. She missed the Dukes game last year. However, I do remember…
Haley Robertson, who is Hannah’s twin sister. She did an excellent job helping break down Duquesne’s 2-2-1 trap last year. While not a true ballhandler, her ability to hit the soft spots in Suzie’s zone as well as play excellent defense on Belma Nurkic was a key in the victory. She won’t wow you in any way, but she’ll be a steady player who won’t make mistakes and play solid defense.
Courtney Larson, another returning starter at guard from last year. She was practically invisible in last year’s game against the Dukes, so much that despite her having 33 minutes I didn’t record a single note about her after the game ended in case the Dukes played Miami again and I was doing a writeup.
Sophomore forward Jessica Rupright will round out the starting rotation for Miami. I thought despite the box score last year, she played well for a freshman against the Dukes. While not getting rebounds, she was boxing out well inside so that even if she didn’t get the board her teammates did and was fundamentally sound.
Others to watch for the RedHawks:
Obviously senior center Kelsey Simon fits the bill here. Wumi Agunbiade played a tentative game against Miami-Ohio last year, as she looked like she was still expecting some of those shots to be blocked that only a player like Delle-Donne could block after playing Delaware the previous game. Kelsey Simon took complete advantage last year, ripping Agunbiade to shreds on both ends of the floor. While I think it was just Wumi being tentative, if it was a matchup problem then Kelsey could be a spark for Miami (Ohio).
The other player to watch is JUCO transfer Kindsay Brandt. While it won’t show in the box score (she only averages 2.8 points per game), Brandt is the most pure ballhandler on the RedHawks from the quick bit that I watched. She’ll come off the bench, but in my opinion is Miami’s best chance to break Coach Burt’s fullcourt zone trap.
Without Osborn, the RedHawks are an average at best MAC team. Even with the minus-matchup and it being on the road, this is a game that the Dukes should win. Dukes 71, Miami (Oh) 57