The 2k Sports Classic Benefitting Coaches vs Cancer Tournament tipped-off Tuesday and continues Wednesday. Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles will serve as a host location out West for the four-team ‘pod' where Miami will tip-off against Weber State followed by UCLA versus Prairie View A&M. Miami is a veteran team to watch this season in the MAC. The RedHawks have a proven star performer in senior swingman Michael Bramos, who scored 16 ppg last season and should excel to greater heights this season with Miami set to run a quicker, more up-tempo game. Bramos developed his game even more over the summer while also leading a group of American players with Greek heritage in scoring with 25 ppg during a 10-day, 4-game trip to Greece to play some pro teams and a junior national team. Miami returns seven players with starting experience including senior guard Kenny Hayes (12 ppg), who is very good off the dribble and will take over the primary point guard duties this season after splitting time at both guard spots last year. The RedHawks are deep at guard with 4-5 players ready to contribute including hot-shot freshman guard Kramer Soderberg, the Gatorade Player-of-the-Year and St. Louis Post-Dispatch POY in Missouri last season.
Weber State comes off a 16-14 season and a third place finish in the Big Sky Conference. You may recall that the Wildcats were a NCAA Tournament team two years ago in head coach Randy Rahe's first season at the helm. He earned Big Sky Coach-of-the-Year honors when he guided the Wildcats to a 20-win season his first year after Weber State went 10-17 the season before his arrival. Not quite as much optimism in Ogden, Utah this season as Weber State lost their top two all-conference performers and has no returning scorer that averaged double-digits last season. A potential step back this season with seven newcomers joining the Wildcats roster and some pressed into early action along with redshirt freshman Kyle Bullinger, a 6-6 forward who should emerge as a solid scorer and player after missing much of last year with an early season injury. Weber State makes their second appearance in this tournament hosted by UCLA and Bruins coach Ben Howland, a former Weber State standout. The Wildcats enter off a home exhibition game victory Saturday against the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who run a frenetic, fast-paced attack. No surprise if Weber State and Miami play an up-tempo pace Wednesday night.
Much optimism for Miami following a 17-16 season and appearance in the first ever College Basketball Invitational (CBI) postseason tournament. The RedHawks will get plenty of support from their fans, followers, media and backers, and they have the personnel and a top coach in Charlie Coles. They return as the MAC's top scoring defense last year, but should be able to extend leads with a more up-tempo style this season. Miami head coach Charlie Coles ‘shoots' for his 300th career win in opening night action at Pauley Pavilion, and look for the RedHawks to deliver with a solid opening night performance.