Miller’s blueprint has Falcons soaring into NCAA tournamentWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Curt Miller was named the head coach of the BGSU women’s basketball team in 2001, the new coach already had a blueprint that he was confident could lead the Lady Falcons back to the promised land.
“My staff and I decided right away that we weren’t going to cut any corners to win,” Miller said. “We had an idea about how we could rebuild this program into a MAC Championship contender, and we were going to do it the right way.”
The program Miller had inherited, once a MAC power, had fallen on some hard times. BGSU was in the midst of a seven-year title drought, something that the fans of the team were not accustomed too. The pressure was there right from the start, but Miller said he and his staff were not fazed by the challenge.
“I realized right away, that we were pretty blessed,” he said. “We had inherited a team that was high in character and worked hard in the classroom. The only problem was talent-wise, we were not where we needed to be to restore the program to prominence.”
Miller felt that the school needed to bring in higher caliber players, and he constructed a very calculated strategy to achieve that goal.
“We started looking at some of the bigger names in Ohio,” he said. “We would look at some of the bigger schools’ second choice players, and we got those girls interested in coming to Bowling Green. That way, if the big schools didn’t get their first choice players, we already had locked up their second choices to come play for us, and it has worked pretty well to this point.”
The master plan that was laid out has maybe even succeeded far beyond Miller’s expectations. The ninth year coach has racked up a 206-79 overall record in nine years, en route to an impressive streak of six consecutive MAC regular season titles. It’s something that the coach is very proud of.
“We have been proud of the winning culture that we have built here,” Miller said.
The 2009-2010 season has possibly been Miller’s most successful season at BGSU. The coach has led his team to an overall record of 27-6, and wrapped up that sixth consecutive MAC regular season championship. For a team that many had high expectations for prior to the start of the season, Miller said he too had high hopes for his Lady Falcons this year too.
“This was by design really,” he said. “We knew heading into 2009-2010 that we were going to have a very talented and experienced team. We thought this was going to be a year where we were going to compete.”
This past Saturday, the Falcons won their fourth MAC tournament championship since Miller’s arrival, beating rival UT in the finals to secure the automatic bid in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. Despite trailing by as many as 12 points early, the Falcons were able to avenge an earlier loss to the Rockets, winning 62-53.
“We are certainly happy to be back in the NCAA tournament,” Miller said. “We really were able to right some of the wrongs that we didn’t do right the first time around against Toledo. I was proud to see the girls fight back and compete. It feels good to beat such a tremendous team like the UT.”
The tournament is not foreign soil to Miller and his staff, who have already made three tournament appearances (2005-2007). In 2007, BGSU advanced to the round of 16 in the tournament, and Miller feels that this team has a chance to do the same.
“Some nights we can score with some of the best teams in the country,” he said. “But we have to notch it up defensively and be more physical if we are going to make a similar run.”
The Falcons do have an ace in the hole in the form of back-to-back MAC Player of the Year Lauren Prochaska. The 5 foot 11 forward led the Falcons in points per game (17.9) and rebounds per game (5.7), and Miller is excited to see what she can do during the post season tournament.
“There’s no doubt that Lauren is an incredible scorer, but she is a very underrated defender,” he said. “She is a special, once-in-a-lifetime type of player, and Lauren has been an all-around talent for this team.”
As of press time, it was still unknown who and where the Falcons would be playing their first round game, but Miller said the team will not get hung up on wins or losses. He has a much simpler goal in mind for his team come tip off.
“If they play their hardest out there, I will be a happy guy,” Miller said. “I am so proud of this team, and I want them to live in the moment, have fun, and play their hearts out. We are going to prepare hard this week, and we hope to make all of our fans and our university proud.”