Tim Miles strolled to the podium in Chicago, sat down and smiled. As the first-year coach of Nebraska, this was his first Big Ten Media Day, but Miles didn’t show it. He cracked jokes, poked fun and ended his press conference with a panoramic photo of the media in the room that then went out to his large Twitter following.
Miles is the new man in charge of a Nebraska team that won just four conference games and finished dead last in the Big Ten last year, but he looked like a coach that was more than comfortable in Chicago.
Lost in all the hoopla was that Miles is actually a pretty darn good basketball coach. He was hired away from Colorado State, where he had been since 2007. In his first season in Colorado, the team won seven games. In his last season in Colorado, the team won 22 games and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Not just a personality, Miles is slowly pulling Nebraska (0-2 Big Ten, 9-6 overall) out of the cellar. It took the Cornhuskers until January 11 last year to reach nine wins — this year, they reached nine wins in late December, and last week, they barely lost to Wisconsin.
Nebraska travels to Ann Arbor tonight for its biggest test of the season, No. 2 Michigan (2-0, 15-0).
At Big Ten Media Day, Miles sat down with the Daily to discuss the upcoming season.
The Michigan Daily: What places are you looking forward to playing at?
Tim Miles: I’m just excited to be part of the Big Ten. I think they are all going to be great environments. I just have to find some good lunch spots, because I had the Mountain West down.
TMD: Is one of the exciting parts about being in this conference knowing there is going to be a challenge every night?
TM: I think it’s a great weight-loss method. I used to call it the Rams basketball diet back in Colorado — watch us play, feel like puking for a week. You won’t eat, you won’t drink, you won’t do anything. I just hope it goes well, and I think it’s going to be a grueling, punishing season. But I think also, when you have an opportunity to compete with the best, you are going to get better too. I look forward to building our program all the same.
TMD: Do you feel like there’s a culture change that has to happen with this program?
TM: It’s hard for me to say because I can only talk about the element I’m in and what I deal with every day with our guys. I do know there are some things we need to acclimate to. That matters most to me, that every day interaction, how we behave and how we are going to perform before we start involving the competition.
TMD: You’ve been moving up the coaching ranks, do you feel like you are at the top now?
TM: I really do feel like I’m in the best conference in the country. I look at fan support, quality of the coaches, the way the teams play — how productive and efficient they are, and they are all well coached. They all have amazing home environments and venues, and they all have great players. It’s fun though, because I think we have a great thing going here and it’s fun to be a part of.
TMD: How excited are you to just start playing and see where your team is at?
TM: Finally, you get to do your job! Between today and March 24 (when Miles was hired) seems like a lifetime ago. It’s not like you get to play golf all summer and mess around. We tried to put Nebraska basketball on the forefront and build a brand a little bit. It’s just amazing that journey and how much life has been lived in this short amount of time. Now we finally get to do what we are here to do.