Having led the UNCP men’s
basketball team to three consecutive winning seasons for the first
time in 20 years, reigning Peach Belt Conference Co-Coach of the
Year Ben Miller embarks on his sixth season at the helm of the
Braves in 2013-14.
Under Miller’s tutelage, the Braves have grabbed a series of superlatives, including records for NCAA Division II wins (22 in 2012-13), home victories (13-1 in 2012-13) and PBC victories (14 in 2012-13). The Braves have also grabbed their first two NCAA Tournament appearances following record-breaking seasons in 2010-11 and 2012-13. UNCP's back-to-back-to-back winning seasons (18-12 in 2010-11, 17-12 in 2011-12, 22-10 in 2012-13) is the first time a UNCP squad has accomplished that task since the last three seasons of the NAIA era in Pembroke (1989-90, 1990-91, 1991-92).
No stranger to national attention under Miller’s watch, UNCP has been a regular in the NCAA statistical rankings over the last two years, including the nation’s 19th-best scoring offense (81.2 points/game), 16th in assists (16.4 per game), a fifth place standing in rebounding margin (+10.2), one of the nation’s leading squads in steals per game (28th, 9.0/game) in 2012-13, as well as a 36th place ranking in both field goal percentage defense (40.9%) and blocked shots per game (4.2) in 2011-12.
The excitement surrounding the program has continued to build as well. The Braves welcomed a PBC-leading 17,273 fans to the English E. Jones Center in 2012-13 - an average of nearly 1,800 fans per home contest. UNCP's 102-91 victory over PBC Regular Season Champion USC Aiken in the regular season finale attracted a school record 3,045 fans, while its 91-68 victory over Francis Marion in early February brought more than 2,500 fans through the turnstiles of its home arena.
Last season also produced a number of individual superlatives for the program as well. Shahmel Brackett became the first three-time all-conference performer in school history, while George Blakeney etched his name in the record book as one of two players in program history to take home first team all-conference nods. Brackett (1,623 points) finished his career ranked fifth in UNCP history and sixth among the PBC’s all-time leading scorers, while Blakeney (1,263 points) ranks among the program’s top 20 scorers in the last 50 years. Blakeney also ranked fifth, nationally, with 17 double-doubles in 2012-13, and was among the nation's top 15 leaders in rebounds per game (9.9) as well.
The future looks bright for Braves Basketball as underclassmen received several awards for the Braves as well. Quamain Rose, earned PBC Freshman of the Year Award. Freshman Forward Brandon Winford was named to the PBC All-Tournament Team, being one of the only freshman in conference history to do so. Sophomore Forward Ben Jacobs received the Elite 15 Award, which is given to the top student-athlete in their respective sport; Ben currently holds a 3.98 GPA. The Braves also tallied their highest team GPA in recent program history with a 2.83 for the season and a fall GPA of 2.93.
Miller will be entering his sixth season as head coach at UNC Pembroke and his 23rd year overall in college coaching. Prior to his arrival at UNC Pembroke, he spent several seasons with some of the nation’s most elite head coaches. Miller came to Pembroke following a four-year stint (2004-08) as both an assistant coach and associate head coach for Missouri State where he helped lead the Bears to a cumulative 80-49 record, including a trio of postseason National Invitation Tournament appearances, under head coach Barry Hinson. During Miller’s time at Missouri State, they registered 22 wins in 2005-06 and 2006-07, while tallying a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2005-06 and a third place finish in the latter. Missouri State had an average RPI of 36 from 2005-2007, finishing as high as 21 in 2006.
Prior to his stint at MSU, Miller served 10 seasons on the coaching staff at Kansas under Roy Williams and current head coach Bill Self. Miller joined the Jayhawk staff on a full time basis in 1995 after completing his doctorate in sport psychology at the University of Kansas. Miller was elevated to an assistant coach in 1998 when Matt Doherty departed Lawrence, Kan., to become head coach at Notre Dame.
Kansas appeared in 10 NCAA tournaments during Miller's time in Lawrence, including three Final Four appearances, two regional final (Elite Eight) showings and one Sweet 16 appearance. Along the way, the Jayhawks compiled a 258-59 win-loss record and won six Big 8/Big 12 titles and four conference tournament championships. During that same time frame, KU achieved nine listings in the final Top 25 polls, including six top five rankings.
During his 22-year coaching career, Miller has been involved in the grooming of 21 all-conference players and 32 academic all-conference honorees. Those numbers also include eight all-Americans, five conference players of the year and eight conference freshman/newcomer of the year laurels.
A basketball player and team captain at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, Miller graduated from Luther in 1991 with BA in Psychology before graduating from Northern Iowa with a MA in Physical Education in 1992. Miller completed his PhD in Sport Psychology at the University of Kansas in 1995.
Miller and his wife, Heather, have two children, Charlie and Betsie. Heather is a native of New Mexico and is a Luther graduate as well. Miller is the son of long-time Division I head coach Eldon Miller who compiled a 568-419 record in his 36-year coaching career that included stops at Wittenberg (OH), Western Michigan, Ohio State and Northern Iowa.
“Ben Miller is one of the most confident, organized, and ethical people I have ever been around in my life. I think he has many strengths – his organizational skills and his people skills really jump out at you and the enthusiasm he has for the sport. The sincerity when he works with the players is always so evident. Ben is so much more a people person than he is just X’s and O’s… Ben Miller has just done a great, great job at UNC Pembroke and that is not surprising. His internal drive and passion will continue to be shown by their success. They will continue to set new records there at UNCP.”
- Roy Williams
North Carolina Tar Heels
"Ben is not only a great guy, but a terrific coach. The success they have had at UNC Pembroke, especially this past season, does not surprise anyone that has been around him or who has worked with him. I'm real excited for Ben and Heather and the family and I know he's excited about the program moving forward."
- Bill Self
"Coach Miller had a tremendous impact on me as a young player at Kansas. He was always in my corner and would do anything to help me both on and off of the court. He put everything he had into our team. Coach Miller has character, passion, and resiliency. I'm lucky to have him as a friend."
- Nick Collison
Oklahoma City Thunder
"I have known Ben Miller for the better part of a decade and am a big fan…He is a man of integrity and a go-getter… Ben is a great coach and the kind of person you want representing your school."
- Dave Telep
Senior College Basketball Recruiting Analyst