Coach Bob Boldon knows Miami is probably feeling excited about playing his team. Ohio has played the RedHawks twice and this season — the Bobcats lost both games.
Aside from Central Michigan and Buffalo, the Mid-American Conference’s elite, no team has given Ohio fits like Miami has.
The RedHawks have perhaps one of the best scoring duos in the conference in Lauren Dickerson and Kendall McCoy. Both players scored 21 points the last time Ohio and Miami played. The Bobcats lost 78-56 at home.
It’s a perfect combination, but it’s a combination that the Bobcats will need to at least slow down Wednesday afternoon. The Bobcats will play the RedHawks in the second session of the MAC Tournament’s quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena.
“We didn’t guard them (the RedHawks) well at their place, and then we couldn’t guard them here,” Boldon said after Ohio defeated Akron in the first round Monday.
For Ohio, guarding Dickerson and McCoy has presented matchup problems. Dickerson drives inside, and McCoy spaces the floor and shoots open jumpers.
While Akron didn't have the scoring duo Miami has, both teams do move the ball well. The RedHawks’ offense focuses more on getting the ball to Dickerson and McCoy, their best players.
If the Bobcats can take shots away from either of them, that will slow down the RedHawks’ offense. Ohio will need to make some of Miami’s other players score. Dickerson and McCoy are the only players on the team who average double figures in scoring.
Energy on defense will need to be in abundance for Ohio again. Akron continued to put pressure on the Ohio’s defense, as it moved the ball and shot 47.1 percent from the 3-point line.
In the two games the RedHawks and Bobcats have played, the RedHawks have been aggressive on offense, forcing Ohio’s defense to move and work. But as the Bobcats prepare to play the RedHawks for a third time this season, Kendall Jessing feels Ohio hasn’t fully shown Miami what it’s capable of.
“I don’t think they’ve seen our best game yet,” Jessing said after the Akron game. “So as long as we go in there with confidence, we should get the outcome we want."
The outcome the Bobcats want is going to be hard to come by, though. No team has given Ohio the sort of matchup problems that Miami has. Central Michigan plays fast, and so does Buffalo. While those teams are great, it’s a different type of offense to defend.
It’s also more manageable in a way, because the main focus when playing a fast team is to control the pace and slow the game down.
The RedHawks don't consistently play at the speed that the Chippewas and Bulls do, though. They’ll play fast in spurts, and the Bobcats will need to play good transition defense, too. But the challenge is guarding the RedHawks’ inside-out attack in the half-court. Dickerson drives, and McCoy is one of the best shooters in the MAC.
It’s a perfect combination, but it’s one that the Bobcats will need to stop to keep their season alive.