Tim Miles is one of the iconic head coaching names this year when it comes to Big Ten basketball, but his love for the game started in a town of only 183 people. Miles is a Doland, South Dakota native and is in his seventh season in charge at Nebraska. Even though it is early into the season, he is already leading one of his best teams.
“One, is we’re trying to build a case for the NCAA tournament. Second of all, as you work you don't want to work from anger of bitterness or those things that come from losing. You want to stay positive and keep going on those things. And then maybe you know strategize ahead. What could teams do to us? Or what are we going to see in the league?” said Miles.
The 25th ranked Huskers are off to a 9-2 start and are in the hunt for their second NCAA tournament appearance since Miles started as the head coach. His team may be in the national spotlight, but his coaching roots began in South Dakota.
“Starting out in South Dakota, my coaching career at Northern State under Bob Olson and Jim Kretchman, getting a chance to be part of great NAIA teams as they were going division two. And then leaving and ended up at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. As a matter of fact, one of my former players Ben Biggler is the head coach there now, and to somehow find my way back from NDSU to CSU to Nebraska and back in South Dakota for a game,” said Miles.
“It is kind of that middle ground of everywhere I‘ve been, I never had a head coaching job in South Dakota, it seems like everywhere else around it. But at the same time it’s cool to be back in the upper midwest playing a home game,” he added.
Miles hasn’t been back coaching in his home state in 12 years.
“It did occur to me when I was at Colorado State I might never appear in South Dakota again anyway shape or form, except to see my parents. So it’s cool to be back here and doing your job and bringing your team to your home state,” said Miles.
So Sunday’s against Oklahoma State wasn’t just a game at the Pentagon, but a homecoming, with more than 3,000 in a sea of red cheering him and his team on.
“It’s always cool how the way Husker fans travel, and to come on the road and have a predominately Husker crowd pack the joint, I think is really cool and really important. It says a lot about A these young kids that play basketball really well that people want to see and B, just the Husker faithful,” said Miles.
Nebraska has the reputation as a football school, but with the Huskers joining a list of high profile division one school’s playing at the Pentagon in recent years, Miles says it’s a step for the program.
“This is awesome, when you look at Bo Ryan bringing his teams in right away, the Gophers being in here quite a bit, Iowa among the other teams like Oklahoma State being in here for a second time. We’re really proud to be a part of this, but at the same time it’s for a great reason and we have such a strong Husker following in this area and I have a personal connection that I think it makes a lot of sense for us to be here,” said Miles.
He said that he attended a high school game at the Pentagon prior to this weekend’s game and was really impressed on what the area had to offer.
“You know it’s really a well done whole area. You look at all the different facilities that go to this, this is just part of it. But when you look at the heritage floor and everything that goes with the throwback style arena, it’s really a one of a kind place in the United states. So for us it’s a great chance to bring a high major team into South Dakota, hopefully a local favorite like the Huskers, and hopefully perform in front of a lot of friends.”
Following his team’s win over the Cowboys, Miles said that he was impressed with the sold out crowd and is proud to coach a team with such a strong fan base.
“As you can tell, I’m so happy to bring the Husker team up to such a strong fan base. Our fans were awesome, I mean the fans were just unbelievable tonight. I’m sure there are a lot of people that aren’t are Pinnacle Bank Arena people even though there were some there, they’re locals or Nebraskans or Iowans or whatever that love Nebraska, and it was really a lot of fun.”