February 5, 2014

Miles' smiles cover 'hidden anger'

And the winner, for Funniest Losing Coach In A Drama/Comedy at Crisler Center goes to … Nebraska's Tim Miles. In a torrent of what he termed "hidden anger," Miles had the Crisler press corps in stitches following the Cornhuskers' 79-50 detasseling on Wednesday night.

There wasn't much Miles wanted to delve deeply into after this one, and for good reason. Michigan led by as many as 41 points, had 75 on the board with 10 minutes left to play, and did it all with leading scorer Nik Stauskas tallying nine in the game.

Glenn Robinson III tossed in 23, Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin 16 each, and the Wolverines appeared to thoroughly enjoy their unofficial celebration of head coach John Beilein's 61st birthday.

Miles insisted he was just being considerate.

"You know, when guys get to be 61 years old, you're worried about their heart, so I just wanted to make sure there were no issues on a guy's birthday," he quipped.

The Nebraska boss saw his team down by 30 in the first half, the Wolverines raining down threes on their way to 13 of them. Irvin led the way with four, while Robinson and LeVert dropped three apiece.

Instead of weathering the storm, the Cornhuskers found themselves dumped into an Ann Arbor snow bank, the game on ice early. All of this, of course, after the Wolverines fought for their lives to win by one in Lincoln.

"I think Ohio State beat us by 31 at their place, and we beat them at our place," Miles pointed out. "I think it's a mark of a young team, an inexperienced team, a team that plays with a lot of determination at home, uses the crowd to really get them going. When that crowd is not with them, it's not the same.

"It was really disappointing tonight, with the way we were just non-competitive. As soon as Michigan came out and made their barrage of threes, it felt like we tried to match them.

"Old John Wooden says, 'Be quick without hurrying.' We looked like we were in a hurry to match them, and you can't match Michigan. You've just got to endure the punishment they're going to give you for that time. Hopefully it subsides.

"Who knows what would have happened if they had scored the last 10 minutes of the game? We were very fortunate."

Then Miles began getting warmed up, breathing a sigh of relief over the Wolverines' empty final 10 minutes.

"I think they part of it is, eventually it's going to factor out and they're going to miss some shots," he said. "Those numbers are going to come back to normal, or closer to normal.

"They might lose interest. That's another thing. That was probably more of our game plan than anything. I'd prefer not to do it that way, but that's another way it happens."

Not really, he cautioned, for those not quick on the uptake.

"It's all sarcasm," he said. "It's all hidden anger. When you've got nothing to talk about, you just deflect with humor."

Miles did turn serious long enough to give the Wolverines their due in a dominating effort.

"Honestly, I think you've got to give a lot of credit to Michigan," he said. "They came out, rebounded well from a tough loss. They had a great winning streak going. Just the way they moved the ball and passed the ball - it's just fun to watch some of their passes. You hear the crowd go 'Ooh' and 'Aah,' and they haven't even shot yet.

"That's a mark of Coach Beilein and how well those guys are trained, how gifted and talented they are, and what they can do to people. That's why they are what they are."

Miles became another visiting coach that noted the Wolverines probably smoothed out some once Mitch McGary left the lineup altogether.

"Once McGary was out, and they knew he was out, and they could only worry about who they are - not who they could be - I think it helped them," he said. "That's not a slight to Mitch at all.

"But when you've got a guy hurt, and you're trying to get him in the lineup and trying to get him out, it's hard on everybody. Nobody quite knows their role, and where the minutes are coming. Now that those roles are identified quite clearly, they've just taken off."

Miles insisted he knew his team was doomed when it couldn't stop Michigan from getting out in on the fast break. That fact, he noted, opened the door for players such as Irvin to fire at will.

"The issue was transition," Miles said. "I think he got a whole bunch of those in transition. That was the number one thing, to keep them out of transition threes.

"Lon Kruger used to say, 'Never allow the ball to be passed across half court. Make them dribble across.' You have to run a very good offense, not have catastrophic turnovers. We had a whole bunch of turnovers and rushed shots early.

"Those are all bad offensive decisions that lead into really difficult defensive situations, so Irvin is just running down like he's in open gym. It's Katie bar the door."

Nobody barred the Wolverines, even with Stauskas getting off all of three shots.

"Did he even do anything?" Miles pondered, scanning a stat sheet. "Eight assists, four turnovers, made one shot. He didn't even have to do anything, and he's the player of the year in the league, in my book. That hurts you a lot, but we did that to ourselves."

He said it with a smile, the anger well hidden.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!