In his latest coaches interview, CHN writer Jon Teitel caught up with former Brown and Penn head coach Glen Miller, who is now the Director of Men's Basketball Administration at Connecticut under his college coach (Jim Calhoun). Miller won 93 games at Brown and led the Bears to the NIT in 2003, eventually taking over for Fran Dunphy at Penn and leading the Quakers to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Jon Teitel: You played for Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun at Northeastern. Why did you decide to go to Northeastern, and what was it like to play for Coach Calhoun?
Glen Miller: I actually started my playing career at Connecticut but wanted to go to a place where I could get more playing time. I was looking to transfer to a good program that had a chance to compete in the NCAA tourney, and it was a great experience to play for Calhoun.
1984 NCAA Tournament
JT: Freshman Reggie Lewis scored 21 points in a three-point win over LIU, blocking Robert Brown's shot to seal the outcome. How was Lewis able to play so well as freshman, and could you tell at the time that he was going to become a star?
GM: In the preseason workouts Reggie was just a skinny, unassuming kid, even though we could see that he had talent. He could play multiple positions and was a great teammate, and he got better as his confidence got higher. We had a pretty talented team around him as well.
JT: Lewis scored 31 points (15-17 FG), but Rolando Lamb hit a game-winning 20-foot jumper at the buzzer to give VCU the one-point victory. How on earth did you lose after your team shot 75 FG%, and what was your reaction after Lamb's shot went in?
GM: I had battled some injuries during my 1st year at Northeastern, so I felt that my career was over just as it started to get going. I made the front end of a 1-and-1 to give us the lead, then missed the 2nd free throw and after a ball went out of bounds that we thought should have gone our way, Lamb hit a tough turnaround to win it. Ironically, his son Jeremy is a freshman for us this year at Connecticut!
1990 NCAA Tournament (as an assitant at UConn)
JT: Your team had 19 steals in a win over Boston University at the Hartford Civic Center. How big of a home-court advantage did you feel like you had, and did BU's offense ever stand a chance?
GM: That team had great size and versatility. Our staple was a 2-2-1 defense, which produced a lot of offense for us.
JT: You beat California with a press that produced a 17-0 run in the first five minutes. Did you think that your team had a good chance of going all the way?
GM: The best teams I was involved with always had good chemistry. We were an unselfish team that shared the ball, and those kind of teams always have a chance to win.
JT: Scott Burrell threw a full-court pass to Tate George who hit "The Shot" on a baseline turnaround jumper at the buzzer for a one-point win over Clemson. Did you think it was going to work, and what was the reaction like after he made it?
GM: That was something we would practice periodically. In the huddle, Calhoun was confident that we had worked on it before and that it could work for us now. We assumed the defense did not want to foul us, and the players were able to execute it.
JT: Christian Laettner inbounded the ball with 2.6 seconds left, got it back, and made a jumper at the buzzer to give Duke the one-point win in overtime. Did you think that Laettner was going to take it, and how did your team deal with the roller coaster of buzzer-beaters in consecutive games?
GM: It is always tough for your season to come to an end when you are one second away from going to the Final Four. We switched back to defending Laettner pretty quickly; he just hit a tough shot, which is what great players do.
JT: You spent six years as head coach of D-III Connecticut College. Why did you take the job, and what was the biggest difference between D-I and D-III?
GM: Our staff at Connecticut was great and we accomplished a lot together, but nobody was leaving and the restricted earnings rule was coming into effect back then which impacted a lot of coaches throughout the country. There is no difference in my mind between D-I and D-III in terms of the time/effort involved and the demands you place on your players, as we recruited kids who would work year round to improve their strength/game. The level of athleticism is a little different, but we had a few guys who might have been able to compete at the D-I level.
JT: What are your memories of the magical 1999 season (your team went undefeated in the regular season and made it to the D-III Final 4 before losing)?
GM: We made it to the Sweet 16 the previous season, so we expected to be good again in 1999. After we won our first five or six games, one of my daughters gave me a "lucky rock", and when we kept on winning it became a team ritual where we would pass it around the locker room before every game. We were #1 in the country by the end of the year, so we all started to believe in that rock!
JT: What are your memories of the 2003 NIT, the first NIT in Brown history (Travis Watson had 29 points and 12 rebounds in a Virginia victory)?
GM: It was great to get to the NIT but we were disappointed after we lost. The players were proud of starting to build a tradition at Brown.
JT: You became coach at Penn in 2006 and won the conference title in your very first season. How were you able to come in and have so much success so quickly, and what was it like to try and replace a legend like Fran Dunphy?
GM: I looked at it as a great opportunity because of Penn's affiliation with the Big 5 and its national schedule. Fran was a tough act to follow, but the players accepted a new philosophy. We had lost a few starters from the previous year, and had another starter dismissed from school for academic reasons, but it was rewarding to overcome those obstacles and have some success.
JT: What are your memories of the 2007 NCAA Tournament (Joseph Jones had 14 points and 11 rebounds in a Texas A&M victory)?
GM: We were a little nervous to start, but once we made some adjustments at halftime and calmed our nerves we made a nice run in the 2nd half. We were only down by five points with five minutes to go, but just ran out of gas a little bit. Teams that make key plays at the end win games, which is what Texas A&M was able to do.
JT: In July you were hired to work at Connecticut for Coach Calhoun as Director of Men's Basketball Administration. Why did you decide to go back to Connecticut, and what will your new job entail?
GM: I would like to get back to being a D-I head coach at some point, as I feel like I have a lot left. In the meantime, I get to go back to work with a Hall of Fame coach who I am very close with, and hopefully we can help Connecticut win another national title.
JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?
GM: I just want to be remembered as a hard-working coach who was a gym rat. The most important people in the program are the players, and I was committed to developing them as students, athletes, and people. My track record shows that I have recruited players who were Academic All-Conference who were also able to put up great numbers on the court.
Miller is also on Jon's list of best coaches in Ivy history
Brown: Glen Miller (1999-2006) 93-99
Columbia: Harry Fisher (1906-1916) 101-39, three conference titles, one Helms title
Cornell: Steve Donahue (2000-2010) 146-138, three NCAA Tournament appearances, three conference titles
Dartmouth: Ozzie Cowles (1936-1943, 1944-1946) 147-47, three NCAA Tournament appearances, six conference titles
Harvard: Edward Wachter (1920-1933) 121-81
Pennsylvania: Fran Dunphy (1989-2006) 310-163, nine NCAA Tournament appearances, seven conference titles
Princeton: Pete Carril (1967-1996) 514-261, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, 13 conference titles, one NIT title
Yale: Joseph Vancisin (1956-1975) 206-242, two NCAA Tournament appearances, three conference titles