Talking Sports and Fitness | Meet Mike Miller
Mike Miller this past season became the winningest men's basketball coach in Alvernia University history. In 13 seasons, he is 236-118 with six conference titles and six NCAA Division III tournament berths. The men’s basketball program and its sustained excellence have been embraced by the Alvernia community.
“Most of our games down the stretch and in the playoffs are sellouts -- the kids (his players) like to see that,” Miller says. Miller stresses fundamentals, relying on man defense and running just a few offensive sets. His teams are mentally tough, focused grinders. “You have to find a mentally disciplined kid who is going to work on it,” Miller tells Zeke. “The best thing for us right now is player development. We work on fundamentals. It’s getting tougher and tougher to find that kid who is going to be a basketball junkie and be coachable.”
Miller talks about this past season with Zeke when Alvernia was 15-11, losing four of its last seven games including a loss to Lebanon Valley in a MAC Commonwealth play-in-game. “We ran into a lot of injuries last season,” Miller tells Zeke. Miller played for Lloyd Wolf at Holy Name and then was an assistant under Jim Gano, Rick Binder and Steve Hahn at Reading High. Miller took his first head coaching job at Kutztown High and left after one season to be the Reading head coach. He coached Donyell Marshall, who became an All-American at Connecticut and had an 18-year NBA career. He now is the head coach at Central Connecticut. At Alvernia the past two seasons Miller coached Donyell’s son, Marquis Marshall, the MAC Commonwealth Player of the Year this past season. “Donyell and Marquis are very much alike – very coachable, skills, good hands and loving to play,” Miller tells Zeke. “But Donyell is 6-11 and Marquis is 6-5.” Speaking of fathers-sons, Miller coaches his son Mike, a 6-2 guard who will be a senior next year. “I didn’t have to push him to do anything -- he’s been around the game all his life,” the elder Miller shares with Zeke. After Miller left Reading High in 1994 with a 145-31 record, he spent 10 seasons as an Alvernia assistant to Jack McCloskey before succeeding him at Alvernia. “I’m doing what I love to do and get paid to it; it can’t get better than that,” Miller tells Zeke.