Behind Enemy Lines: Nebraska coach Tim Miles

Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 7:55pm

Nebraska coach Tim Miles and his Cornhuskers will travel to Ann Arbor to take on a reeling Michigan team.

Nebraska coach Tim Miles and his Cornhuskers will travel to Ann Arbor to take on a reeling Michigan team. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

Though the conference season is still young, few teams in the country have had a better stretch of games in the past couple weeks than Nebraska.

After a bumpy non-conference slate that included a loss to Gardner-Webb, the Cornhuskers (3-1 Big Ten, 9-6 overall) have found new life and been the surprise of the Big Ten thus far in conference play.

Nebraska has earned road wins at Indiana and Maryland, and will look to add a win at Crisler Center to its resume when it faces Michigan (1-3, 11-6) on Saturday.

Senior guard Tai Webster has led the Cornhuskers’ resurgence. The senior is currently the fourth-highest scorer in the Big Ten, averaging 17.7 points, while also producing four assists per game.

Stopping Webster and the rest of the offense will be a high priority for the Wolverines, and based on some news this week, that job may be easier than Michigan originally anticipated.

Nebraska forward Ed Morrow has been ruled out indefinitely with a foot injury. Morrow currently leads Nebraska with 7.9 rebounds per game, and was one of three sophomores who started for the Cornhuskers in their last outing, a home loss to Northwestern.

The Daily sat down with Nebraska coach Tim Miles at Big Ten Media Day in October to discuss his young roster and his relationship with Michigan coach John Beilein and the rest of the conference’s coaches:

The Michigan Daily: What should fans expect when they’re watching “Nebrasketball” this year?

Tim Miles: I like our group. We’re young and there are some real unknowns because eight of our top 10 guys are freshmen and sophomores or new. I think if we can handle ourselves, if we can get off to a really solid start, that will bode well for us. Last year we played 21 games in this league. We were 8-13. There was a .2 difference between our points against and our points scored per game. That’s insane. It just tells you about the depth of our league.

TMD: What comes to your mind when you see these stats and realize how close you are in so many games?

TM: I immediately go, what are we weak on defensively? What are we weak on offense? How can we correct that? What can we get better at? For this year, I don’t think there’s any way we’re going to make as many threes as we made last year, so where are we going to get our points from? But at the same time I think we’re going to defend the three much better. So scoring might be down on both sides, but if it’s more favorable for us, I don’t care.

TMD: Can you give us some insight into what goes on at the coaches’ dinner before media day?

TM: We go out and all have a nice dinner with the coaches. Quite frankly, Coach Beilein, who should be a good friend of mine because we’re both St. Louis Cardinals fans, was upset with me because I don’t follow the Cardinals as closely as he does. I also have young kids, and I’m not as veteran a guy as he is — which means old. If I’m not paying attention to what the Cardinals’ rotation is this week, he’s mad. He’s just sensitive.

TMD: Do you call or text Beilein about the Cardinals frequently?

TM: I will text him and on occasion he will text me back. I’m a true Cardinals fan. John Beilein, I don’t know. He’s like my father who listens to every game, lives and dies with them.

TMD: Does your relationship with Beilein reflect the dynamic between all the Big Ten coaches?

TM: No question. I think there’s a great relationship. Guys are highly competitive, yet no one is easily insulted so you can give each other a hard time. We got a lot of energetic guys, and some guys aren’t. You look at a calm guy like Coach Beilein and, when you get to know him, he’s a passionate person about things. If you were just a common viewer, you wouldn’t see that everyday. I love our league. I love the coaches.