BOWLING GREEN - Curt Miller took a drive around the Bowling Green area on Monday, ostensibly looking for a place to live. What the new head women's basketball coach at BGSU saw was a bounty waiting to be harvested - and it's only May.
“Nearly every house I went by had a six-foot basketball hoop outside. There are young kids in this community everywhere looking to identify with role models - and what better role models could we have than the women's basketball players here at Bowling Green,” Miller said. “The cupboard is not bare - there's talent here to build on.”
Miller, who was the associate head coach at Colorado State for the past three seasons, was officially named to take over the Falcon program yesterday. The 32-year-old native of Girard, Pa., has a strong Midwest background after having graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College and spending part of his 11 years as a Division I assistant coach at Cleveland State and at BG's Mid-American Conference opponent, Kent State.
“My colleagues thought this was the perfect job for me,” Miller said. “I knew pretty quickly that it was a terrific opportunity. I considered myself a bit of a dark horse, but the history here, the community, the players on hand - that made it something I was determined to go after.”
Miller takes over a Falcon team that went 35-49 in three seasons under former coach Dee Knoblauch, who was fired in March. He said he plans to involve everyone in an effort to restore to luster to a program that won 11 MAC regular-season and tournament championships from 1986 to 1994, but has not had a winning season since 1997-98.
“My team motto will be: Together we attack,” Miller said. “I want to involve the community, the faculty, the staff, the campus, and certainly the team - that we're all attacking in our own individual roles. I hope that everyone will jump on that bandwagon and bring back the tradition here.”
Miller said he has received a very positive reaction from the BG team, which returns 12 of its 15 players from last season, when the Falcons were 11-18. When he talked about how much work there was in front of them, Miller liked the team's reaction.
“I saw a team starving for discipline, for structure, for a regimented style. When I talked about being demanding and being disciplined - I saw eyes light up in the room. That's what they want. They want to be pushed.”
Miller, who helped Colorado State go 81-20 over the past three seasons, plans to run the ball up the floor, and take advantage of the Falcons' record-setting ability to score from beyond the 3-point arc. He also thinks BG has adequate personnel for the coming season.
“We'll play up-tempo. I truly believe in that style,” he said. “And we'll shoot a lot of 3s - that's part of my philosophy. I'm not convinced that we need to recruit anyone else for this year, either. I think there's talent to win here already.”
Francine Miller, an all-MAC performer for the Falcons, said the team has already rallied behind the new coach and is anxious to get to work after going exactly two months without a leader.
“He's motivated us already, to the point that we want to go out and work hard because we know he's going to help us turn this program around,” the guard from Kalida said. “He seemed to know everything about everybody when we met him - like he'd done his homework before he got here. It makes a difference.”
BGSU athletic director Paul Krebs said the new coach, selected from a field of more than 90 candidates, had the broad range of skills the search committee was looking for.
“It's important a coach have strong recruiting ability - that's the lifeblood of any program,” Krebs said. “I think it's important they come from a winning program - that they've experienced success. In our case it's also helpful if they understand the MAC. And in the case of Bowling Green State University, I think it's critical that they understand community involvement. You also have to have a sense that they can coach - that they understand the X's and O's.”
As BG's seventh women's head coach, Miller received a five-year contract with a base salary of $85,000 per year. Krebs said there will be bonuses and incentives on top of that likely tied to attendance, graduation rate, MAC championships and NCAA Tournament appearances, but those terms have not yet been finalized.