Spalding Recap: Freshmen Lead RedHawks to Big Win at Home
By: Jack Mueller
The old sporting adage of “Let the Kids Play” was more than appropriate on Tuesday night at Millett Hall, as Miami’s crop of freshmen led the RedHawks to an 83-42 win over Spalding University.
Head Coach Travis Steele’s 2023 recruiting class was responsible for over 65% of the scoring on the night. Jackson Kotecki, the 6’9 freshman out of Chicago, stepped up in a big way, topping the scoring charts with 19 points on a mix of dunks, three pointers and clever post moves.
“He’s come a long way in six games, he’s still got a long way to go but we like the progress he’s made” said Steele postgame.
Kotecki was quick to praise his coaches and peers, saying "The coaches talk about keeping it simple ... my teammates know my spots, and they were getting me the ball tonight so it was more them than it was me.”
The other three freshmen were impressive as well, as Mekhi Cooper added 15 points of his own, and Eian Elmer registered his first double-digit scoring outing, putting up 11 points in 18 minutes. Evan Ipsaro also continued his impressive run of form, as Coach Steele emphasized that he “imposed his will on the game” with nine points and four assists. Despite being so new to collegiate level basketball, Miami’s young core have answered the call.
“Every team is trying to get old and stay old, and we’re throwing our guys to the fire. They’re talented, they make mistakes, but you can see talent is there.” said Steele in regard to his newest class of recruits.
Miami started the game on a 11-0 run, setting the tone for a game where their lead was never truly threatened. Both teams would trade baskets for the rest of the half, as the scoring efforts of Spalding's Dominic Sanders, Charlie Storm and Kameron Jones kept the game from getting out of hand early.
However those efforts would prove to be futile early in the second half, as Miami would rattle off a 27-0 run to start the second half. Buckets from Kotecki, Ipsaro and Jaquel Morris kept Miami’s offense rolling while the RedHawks team defense, especially Bradley Dean and his 3 steals, prevented any Spalding resistance. The visitors were unable to stop the RedHawks from getting to the charity stripe, as the Golden Eagles played the majority of the second half in the bonus as Miami continued to drive to the hoop. Miami would register 21 points from the free throw line, while Spalding only managed 9. On the other end of the floor, Coach Steele was complimentary of both his team’s all-around defense, as well as Morris’ presence in the paint
“He was much better in ball-screen defense, we’re asking a lot from him, we need him right now without Reece (Potter) or Anderson (Mirambeaux)” said Steele “Our ball screen defense was better, our transition defense was better and I loved the toughness we had on the ball”
While Spalding is far from the toughest opponent the RedHawks have played so far, getting back in the win column has to feel good, especially as the RedHawks look ahead to a four-game road trip against quality opponents, highlighted by Ohio State and Davidson. Coach Steele acknowledged that these games will be tough but was adamant that these matchups are necessary to the development of his team.
“It’s gonna be challenging, but if we want to aspire to be those teams we need to play them.”
The RedHawks will travel to Huntington, West Virginia over the weekend to taken on Marshall University on Saturday, December 2nd.