Q&A with UNCG men's basketball coach Wes Miller
In less than four months, Wes Miller has gone from a relatively unknown assistant coach to the youngest leader of an NCAA Division I program. That designation has since disappeared – somebody else hired somebody younger – but Miller, 29, is sticking around UNCG and generating considerable offseason interest in the Spartan program. He even has his own bobblehead, a perk for those who put down 2012-13 season-ticket deposits by the end of this month.
Miller recently addressed a wide range of topics with UNCGSpartans.com writer Rob Daniels.
Q: What was it like to attend the Final Four as a head coach for the first time?
A: It's different because there are staff positions open. And people know that. There are people looking for jobs. It's different in that sense. And now you're in charge of hiring certain positions and they want to connect with you. The Final Four is always productive from a career-development standpoint. There's a perception that it's only about people looking for jobs, and I'm not sure how true that really is. There's a chance to meet and visit with people you know, people you want to engage in face-to-face.
Q: Have you had a chance to catch your breath and contemplate how your life has changed recently?
A: I don't know if I've had time to reflect. To sit here and reflect now is difficult. Everything has happened so fast and every day is filled with so much to do. Hopefully at some point down the road, I'll have time to see how my wife feels. But it really is about trying to hit the ground running every day. I'm lucky I have so many supportive people around me that it hasn't caused a disturbance in my life in any way.
Q: How about on the season just past and the players in the program? Have you evaluated what contributed to a Southern Conference North Division championship?
A: There certainly has been lots of time to reflect on our team and our season as we try to build for the future. I think one of the things we did and will always do is to meet with every player individually, discussing strengths and weaknesses and their individual and team goals for the future.
Q: What excites you about 2012 and the years to come?
A: We began to build a foundation defensively toward the end of the year. There were times that we were the type of defensive team that I want us to be and there were times we weren't. We need to become the right type of defensive team all the time. Style of play will be something we work on. Our skill development, weight training and conditioning should all be geared toward playing at a faster pace and in high-possession games. That effects every decision we make on a day-to-day business – from how we train guys in the weight room to the people we want to recruit.
Q: What do you think about having your own bobblehead?
A: I'd rather our players be the attraction, but I trust Kim Record and her staff that there's some excitement or buzz with this hire and this is part of the territory. I want to do what I can from my standpoint to generate excitement and I can get laughs from my friends and family in the process.
Q: Among the objects in your office is a photo of a scrimmage in which you're guarding future first-round pick Ty Lawson and Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois seeking the presidency, is watching intently in the background. What do you think of when you look at that?
A: It's one of those cool things. Regardless of what your politics are, you're able to say you played basketball with the President of the United States, and I think everybody can appreciate how neat an experience that is.
Q: How would you evaluate the president's game?
A: I was impressed with how fit he was. To walk in and be able to hold your own with high-level athletes in their prime – especially with what he was doing at the time, campaigning – was impressive.
Q: With all that's going on – recruiting, building a staff, etc. – how have you kept your head above water?
A: This is fun. I believe that. There is a lot of work to do. I'm not comfortable when things aren't in place and organized, and we're not there yet. But at the end of the day, I get to do what I absolutely love, and I get to be around people I believe in here at UNCG.
Q: What most struck you about the players you'll consider your core next season?
A: Our sophomore class was impressive to me: Drew Parker and Trevis Simpson and David Williams. Drew really developed into a guy who was a threat to score. He was always really good as a pass-first point guard, but I don't think people took him seriously in scoring. He started shooting well from the 3-point line and in going to the basket. David Williams is starting to figure out where he fits in a half-court game. I expect him to become more of a complete player. And for Trevis Simpson, people don't realize how difficult it is to continue to score at a high rate when everybody knows you're the guy who's going to get the shots. It says a lot about his development and the player he's becoming.
Don't forget, place your $50 per seat deposit by May 1 and receive a limited edition "Say Yes to Wes" bobblehead. Deposits can be placed by visiting OurGreensboroOurCoach.com or by contacting the Athletics Ticket Office at 336-334-3250.
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