Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Starting or coming off bench suits Miami's Seals



By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

Miami's Gene Seals can't deny it. He's getting to like this starting thing. The 6-foot-6 senior forward, who served as the RedHawks' sparkplug sixth man last season, has shaken off a preseason knee problem to replace the injured Danny Horace in the starting lineup for the last six games. In that span, he has averaged 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds and helped the RedHawks go 5-1 against Mid-American Conference foes.

"I think every player loves to start," Seals said after scoring a team-high 13 points in Miami's 74-46 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday. "I enjoy it, but I have no problem coming off the bench."

Seals isn't the only member of the program who's pleased with the development. Coach Charlie Coles enjoys having another option, and with Horace coming back from his right ankle injury, Coles' choices keep getting better.

Coles was considering those choices for Miami's MAC game tonight at Marshall. Despite Seals' performances as a starter, Coles was thinking about returning the beefier Horace to the lineup as the RedHawks' answer to 6-7, 210-pound Thundering Herd senior Marvin Black, who is Marshall's leading scorer. Horace and Seals both were listed as possible starters.

Horace, who had started 61 of the 66 games he'd played in at Miami before his injury, is adjusting to his new role. "It's different than starting," he said. "When you're starting, you've got to be ready right away. When you're coming off the bench, you can watch and see what's going on.

"We're different players," Horace added. "We're interchangeable. He's more of a driver, while I'm more of a post-up player. As long as we're doing things to win, it's OK."

Despite still feeling pain in his ankle, Horace has averaged 19.7 minutes, 9.7 points and 5.3 rebounds while coming off the bench in the last three games. Seals has averaged 23.3 minutes over that span.

"I think they care (about starting), but they don't care," Coles said. "Danny knows he's going to play a lot. Sometimes he's a slow starter, but he's also a finisher. Gene gives us a spark, regardless."

Miami might need Horace, its second-leading rebounder behind Chet Mason, to overcome Marshall's prowess on the boards. The Thundering Herd (7-8, 4-3) lead the conference with an average of 38.1 rebounds a game overall and 40 per game in the MAC. The board work has Marshall in third place in the East Division, one game behind Miami (9-6, 5-2). The RedHawks are one game behind Kent State.

Miami at Marshall

Tipoff: 7 p.m. today, Cam Henderson Center (9,043), Huntington, W.Va.

Records: Miami 9-6 (5-2 Mid-American Conference), Marshall 7-8 (4-3).

TV: None.

Radio: WCKY-AM (1360), WMOH-AM (1450).

Series: Miami leads 44-27.

Line: Marshall by 1 1/2.

MARSHALL

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Marvin BlackSr.6-713.2
Eric SmithJr.6-76.1
Ardo ArmpaluSr.6-106.9
A.W. HamiltonJr.6-38.3
Tre WhittedFr.6-43.8
Coach: Ron Jirsa (7-8, first season; 42-38 overall).

MIAMI

PlayerYr.Ht.PPG
Chet MasonJr.6-411.4
Josh HausfeldSo.6-38.1
Juby JohnsonSr.6-515.3
Monty St. ClairFr.6-92.3
Gene SealsSr.6-66.3
OR
Danny HoraceJr.6-69.3
Coach: Charlie Coles (129-99, eighth season; 221-183 overall).




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