Rollins thriving in Cooper's new system
The 6-foot, 185-pound junior has more freedom to direct the offense and feels more comfortable spreading the ball around to a host of talented shooters.
"The new system is definitely helping, because the first thing they want you to do is to push the ball," Rollins said. "I don't have to worry about what the play call is or walking it up and getting the play call; I can just go down and try to make something happen."
Rollins, a Wilmington, Ohio native, has helped the RedHawks jump out to a 3-3 record with two of the team's losses coming against top-10 teams on the road against then No. 6 N.C. State, 97-59, Nov. 9 and then No. 2 Louisville, 80-39, Nov. 18.
The soft-spoken guard, who is averaging 6 points and 4.2 assists per game, said playing under Cooper has allowed him to be more aggressive, which has increased his confidence both on offense and defense.
Rollins recorded his first career double-double in Miami's 76-58 win over James Madison Nov. 24, scoring 10 points while adding 10 assists and six rebounds. He also tied the school-record for most steals in a game with seven in the team's 80-54 victory over Grambling State Nov. 13. But what might be even more impressive is that he has only had eight turnovers in six games, including three with no turnovers.
"I don't know if I ever coached a guy that went three games without having a turnover," Cooper said. "He's understanding what I'm looking for and what I want. You know, he struggled initially, but now in the past two or three games he's come on and I think it started with the game where he had the seven steals."
The RedHawks have also come on as of late, steadily improving in each of their first six games. Much of the team's early success is due to the players embracing the new coaching staff and visa versa.
"It's a lot more relaxed. It's a lot more fun," Rollins said. "Last year, it felt more like a job with the losses that we were taking and that kind of makes it hard when you are losing like that."
He continued, "In my mind, I think we are ahead of where I thought we'd be. This is a totally new group. We have freshmen coming in, we lost our leading scorer and we have new coaches and a new system. I knew we were going to be tough, but at the same time we are putting together toughness with wins and that's big."
The RedHawks continue their four-game road swing at Evansville Wednesday, Dec. 5. Game time is 8:05 p.m.