RedHawks open season against Eastern Kentucky
The Miami University women's basketball team opens its regular season 5:30 p.m. Friday against the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Lady Colonels. The RedHawks are looking to build off of a resilient 80-70 win in their exhibition against Tiffin University and are expecting a challenge similar to last season, when Miami defeated Eastern Kentucky 60-55 in Oxford.
"We know that Eastern Kentucky is a very talented team," Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. "It's going to be a tough first game, and it's on the road."
The Lady Colonels are coming off of an exhibition win of their own, defeating Georgetown College 87-63. Junior guard Marie Carpenter led Eastern Kentucky with 17 points and two other Lady Colonel players scored in double digits. Eastern Kentucky hit 48 percent (11 for 23) of its three-point attempts and had 13 different players score.
However, at this point in the season, the RedHawks are more focused on improving themselves than making adjustments for any one opponent.
"A big part of our preparation is getting our fundamentals better," Fantanarosa said. "We don't want to focus too much on EKU instead of focusing on ourselves."
Miami is looking to improve its defense from the exhibition game, but the team is making adjustments during practice this week.
"We're definitely focusing on defense, that is a huge key to our game," junior center Kelsey Simon said. "We need to outrebound opponents and get deflections on defense."
Another issue that the RedHawks have faced this season is injuries to freshman forward Tamira Ford, sophomore guard Courtney Larson and junior guard Hannah Robertson. However, Miami has made the best of the situation so far.
"We're still looking at our injuries as an opportunity to get other players some experience," Fantanarosa said. "When you see that you're nine deep and your freshmen played quality minutes, it's a good sign for your future."
The injuries have forced some of the RedHawks to play out of position, but the players are taking it in stride.
"I want to be a team player, the person that the team needs me to be," Simon said. "Whatever my role is, I just need to make sure that I fulfill that role and do it to the best of my ability."
In addition to building depth and creating versatility in the players, the injuries happening early in the season have had an unexpected benefit.
"The team is earning a lot of respect for each other," Fantanarosa said. "It's harder to play other positions than they think."
The offense has been the strength of the team so far and should only continue to improve as the season goes along.
"I think we're very versatile as a team right now on offense, and our offense is working efficiently," Fantanarosa said. "The question mark is how good we can be with the easy points, which will happen when teams take us out of our offense."
The Lady Colonels return four starters from last season's team, including Carpenter, a preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) selection. Eastern Kentucky finished last season with a 13-16, 7-9 (OVC) record, which was good for sixth place in the conference. The Lady Colonels lost by 16 points in the quarterfinals of the OVC Tournament to third-seed Tennessee Tech University.
"It was a rebuilding program, but now I think they're at a point to contend for their conference championship," Fantanarosa said.
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