STORRS – Had a long chat on Friday with Glen Miller, the newly named associate head coach on Kevin Ollie’s staff, for an upcoming story.
Miller, 51, came from Groton, played two years at UConn, then transferred to Northeastern, where he first met Jim Calhoun. He was an assistant on Calhoun’s first staff at UConn, then went on to 17 years as a head coach, and has been back in Storrs since 2010. Miller and his family now live within walking distance of Gampel Pavilion.
Here are some of Miller’s thoughts:
On his new role:
“I’m going to be doing a lot of the same things I did last year, just maybe playing a little more of a lead role. We’re all involved in different aspects of the program. I will be helping with practice plans, game strategy. If there is a situation where Kevin couldn’t coach, I could coach the team for a game. It will probably be a little more defined.”
On his relationship with Kevin Ollie:
“Kevin and I have worked closely in a lot of areas in the last two years. I think he’s developed a comfort level with me and a trust and a confidence in my ability to coach. I’m happy he believes in me.”
How the staff works together:
“We have a very experienced staff, coach [George] Blaney, Karl [Hobbs], those guys bring a lot to the team. We’re an experienced staff, we all pick our spots in practice and in meetings to pitch in give our suggestions and thoughts.
“There’s a big difference in responsibility on a daily basis between being an assistant and a head coach. Because we have that [head coaching] experience, we fully understand what Kevin is going through and we’re in a better position to help him navigate it.
“… It’s just like being a player. Everybody benefits when you win. Not everybody can take 15, 18 or 20 shots a game. So, what’s your role? How can you best help the team win? It’s the same with coaching. What is it that I can give to the program, where we can have chemistry within our staff and where we can all play a role to help the program be successful? Same as a player.”
What he’s looking for out on the recruiting trail:
“Certain things have to be there – a kid’s character, his work ethic. He’s got to be able to successful here academically. Is education is important to him? If kid can’t do the work here, it is going to take away from his basketball ability. Is he coachable? Does he really have a passion for the game? Then you start to get into what type of player Coach Ollie wants. I can like a player, but if Coach Ollie doesn’t like that style of player, then it doesn’t work. Does he have upside? This program has been a program that has over the years taken that underrated player who has a high ceiling. It has been a program that develops players. But that’s a two-way street. It’s making an evaluation on those intangibles – character, passion for the game, work ethic.”
“… We tell kids straight up, ‘This is not going to be easy, you’re going to have fun but you’re going to have to work extremely hard. If you’re not willing to do this, then this is not the place for you.’ The kids that are going to be successful playing in this program are going to embrace that hard work and they’re going to embrace that straight talk that we give them. ‘If you do the things we’re asking and demanding, your name might be up on the wall [with UConn’s greatest players], too.’”
On the transition:
“[Calhoun and Ollie] have the same values: unselfish play, team first, hard effort every day – if you do those things, you can play for Jim Calhoun, you can play for Kevin Ollie. His toughness, as he has experiences, that toughness will be more defined. He’s confident. He’s very decisive. He listens, he considers suggestions, thoughts from other coaches, but he knows what he wants to do. He doesn’t labor on decisions, and good coaches are able to take info and make a decision. Kevin is able to do that and that’s a great quality for a leader.”