Ford Era, Bears off to Roaring Start

So, like I mentioned in my preview of this season, I cover Cincinnati sports, but I really like following this up-and-coming coach out in Missouri. The Missouri State Bears (1-0) got their first victory of the Dana Ford era and it was a thorough dismantling of Oral Roberts (0-1) by a score of 84-50. Get ready for the Bears, if Tuesday is any indication, this is going to be a good year in Springfield.

Jarred Dixon led the charge for the Bears with a career-high 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting. The senior displayed his catch-and-shoot ability, but also showed his talent of creating shots, giving MSU as dynamic scorer to lean on in any situation. He led four Bears who scored at least 11. Ryan Kreklow put up 13 points, off the bench, Keandre Cook added 12, and Kabir Mohammed pitched in 11.

The Bears played Dana-ball, beating the Golden Eagles on the boards and causing as many turnovers as MSU had assists (21). Senior forward Obediah Church stuffed the stat sheet with six points, seven rebounds, four blocks, and three assists. Coach Ford also has his point guard in Josh Webster. The senior finished the game with nine assists, seven of which came in the first half. Webster will be one to watch, heading into the weekend, though, as he looked to have injured his left ankle, early in the second half. He did return and finish the game, though, so it may be minor.

ORU put up a fight, but it didn’t last much past the halfway point of the first half. Five and a half minutes into the opening frame, the Bears took the lead, for good, at 15-14.

Coach Ford and the Bears will turn their focus to Robert Morris (Friday) and Stetson (Sunday), this weekend.

Other Area teams:

Kentucky suffered its worst loss of the John Calipari era, Tuesday, as Duke thrashed em 118-84. UK will need to get it’s defense in shape, though these early November games tend to mean very little, come March. This will be plenty of fuel to the practice fires that Calipari will be stoking all year. I can still see that game being a championship preview.

Xavier took care of business with IUPUI, winning 82-69. Were it not for a rash of turnovers by the Jaguars, late, this may have been a lot closer. Xavier struggled to pull away for much of the game. They’re still building an identity under Travis Steele, but it’s nice to see a one in the win column, rather than the loss column.

NKU beat Wilmington College. Nothing really to see here.

Who’s Next:

At 6 pm, The Bearcats re-open Fifth-Third Arena tonight with the Buckeyes. I’m looking forward to sitting down with a few cold ones and taking this one in.

Dayton also hosts North Florida and Wright State welcomes Western Carolina to town. Both of those games tip at 7 pm.

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College Basketball, Previewing Miami (OH) and Missouri State

It’s that wonderful time of year when college basketball begins. I’ve taken a look at the area teams (and one not in the area) and will give you what you should watch for this year with each one. This post looks at the Redhawks of Miami (Ohio, in case you were wondering) and the out-of-town team, Missouri State. That’s the American dream, right? Someone who tells you what to think about?

Miami Redhawks (16-18, 8-10 MAC), Head Coach – Jack Owens

The good news for Miami is that they return their leading scorer from a year ago. Nike Sibande averaged just over 15 points a game taking a little over 12 shots a game. The next closest shooter took five-less shots, per game. So the offense will probably run through him again this season. Defensively is where the question comes in. The Redhawks lost their leaders in steals and blocks, in Darrian Ringo and Logan McLane, as Sibande was the only other Miami player to average at least a steal a game. Miami could employ an interesting zone, as their frontcourt will likely be out-sized this year, with no one taller than 6’ 9”. Owen’s second year at the helm of the Redhawks will see some new challenges with a younger team.

Predicting the team MVP – Dalonte Brown. Sibande will lead the team in scoring, but Brown will be second in scoring and first in everything else. In 21 minutes per contest, last season, Brown led the team in rebounds as he was the only Redhawk to pull down at least four defensive rebounds a game.

Best game to watch – Miami plays every team in the tri-state, except Dayton and Cincinnati. Their most intriguing game, from my perspective, will be against Xavier on November 28th. Miami will have gone through the gauntlet of the Bahamas Showcase and may put their development in a hyperbaric chamber, because of it.

Predicting what we will be looking back on, next April – This may be bold, or maybe not, but Miami will win the MAC. They have their scorer (Sibande) and their do-everything guy (Brown) and will have a stellar year two under Owens.


Missouri State Bears (18-15, 7-11 Missouri Valley), Head Coach – Dana Ford

One of these is not like the others, oh, and it’s this one! What is a Missouri team doing in a college basketball blog post about Cincinnati sports, you ask? Well, it’s my blog and I can post about who I want to. Also, one of my favorite coaches, a guy I got to know a tiny little bit while I interned at Tennessee State, was hired as Missouri State’s head coach, back in March. Dana Ford is an awesome coach and human being. As well as growing young basketball players into young men, Ford also helped found the Rebound Foundation. The Rebound’s goal is to end domestic violence. So yeah, he’s a cool dude.

Starting out at Missouri State is going to feel a little like Ford started at Tennessee State. Just three players who accumulated some sort of statistics return from last year’s team. There’s the Bears third-leading scorer in Jarred Dixon, the team-lead in blocks Obediah Church, and a kid who played in 13 games in Ross Owens. The rest of the roster is made up of transfers, a redshirt-freshman, and the Wojcik twins (who are freshmen). This team will be an interesting story and follow, outside of seeing Coach Ford rebuild another school, in that they have zero identity. It will all be on Coach Ford to instill his mentality of physical defense and rebounding in the most major mid-major conference in the country. Oh, and they have a transfer on their team by the name of Jared Ridder, who transferred from Xavier. Just a little nugget for the Xavier fans out there.

Predicting the team MVP – Jarred Dixon. If the scrimmage with Evangel is any indication, he is Coach Ford’s Jay Harris. Harris was the holdover at TSU whenever Ford began there that Ford leaned on to make baskets and drive the offense. Dixon shot 6-of-7 from the field for 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. He played 30 minutes in the exhibition, the only player to go over 25. He will be the guy for the Bears.

Best game to watch – January 23, 2019, they host Sister Mary-Margaret and Loyolla-Chicago.

Predicting what we will be looking back on, next April – Coach Ford leads the youngsters and the brand new Bears to a 9-9 MVC record.

Check out more area college basketball previews:

The Gem City Previews

The Blue Grass Previews

The Queen City Previews

Follow @jefffcarr and @sportsinnati on Twitter