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 2011-12). Most importantly, the Braves have qualified for conference tournament play on four occasions – including trips to the semifinal round twice in the last three seasons - while also grabbing 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 a fifth place standing in rebounding margin (+10.2) 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. Last season, the Braves sported the nation’s 19th-best scoring offense (81.2 points/game), as well as one of the nation’s leading squads in steals per game (28th, 9.0/game).
Last season also produced a number of individual superlatives for the program as well as 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.
Having spent the previous 18 years as an assistant for some of the country'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.
Missouri State registered 22 wins in each of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, while tallying a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2005-06 and a third place finish in the latter. The 2005-06 campaign included a pair of wins, as well as a quarterfinal loss to Louisville, in the NIT tournament, while the Bears also boasted a 74.2 points per game scoring average. This past season, MSU turned in a 17-16 clip which included wins over NCAA Tournament participants Drake and Winthrop.
Prior to his stint at MSU, Miller served nine seasons on the coaching staff at Kansas under two different head coaches, including current Jayhawks' skipper Bill Self. Miller joined the KU staff on a full time basis in 1995 under then-head coach Roy Williams as an administrative assistant and was elevated to an assistant coach position in 1998 when Matt Doherty departed Lawrence, Kan., to become head coach at Notre Dame. He remained on the KU staff as director of game operations when Self took over the reigns of the program in 2003.
His duties over his lengthy tenure with the Jayhawks included game and practice coaching, recruiting, video coordinator duties and working with Kansas basketball camps and clinics. He was also charged with the arduous duties of overseeing the academic progress and strength and conditioning work of Kansas student-athletes. He also assisted with the KU junior varsity squad.
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 storied 23-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 a bachelor's degree in psychology before graduating from Northern Iowa with a master's degree in physical education. Miller began his doctorate work in sport psychology at Kansas in 1992 where he worked three years in an assistantship program.
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.