March 5, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
Georgia Tech may not go exactly as Daniel Miller goes, but the Yellow Jackets frequently have gone better when the junior center has been busy on offense.
The trick as the Jackets prepare to play at No. 6/7 Miami tonight is Miller is as unpredictable as any Tech player. When he’s aggressive offensively, Tech is better.
“One, most of his baskets are going to be high-percentage shots,” said coach Brian Gregory. “In addition to that, when he’s an aggressive scorer, he demands [defensive] help [from the opposing defense].”
Miller and his teammates tonight will work against the biggest and deepest front line in the ACC, a group against which the Jackets fared pretty well defensively when the teams met in early January to kick off league play.
The Hurricanes (23-5, 14-2 ACC) won that game 62-49. For them, the key was sub Rion Brown putting together a career game. He scored 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Frankly, the Georgian surprised the Jackets.
Otherwise, Miami shot 13-for-42 (30.9 percent) that day.
Tech, though, did not fare so well offensively. The Jackets scored just 16 points in the paint.
Miller sometimes passes more than coaches would like, which is not to say that Gregory and his staff don’t like Miller’s passing ability. Sometimes, however, he’ll make a pass rather than attempt what would be a fairly high-percentage shot.
That was a rough day on both counts for the big fella. He didn’t have an assist, and he scored a modest six points.
In some of Tech’s best games, his performances have been more balanced.
In a 78-68 win over Maryland, he had 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
In a 66-60 win over Virginia, Miller had a more modest four points yet had eight rebounds and four assists. Most imporantly that day, the Jackets outscored the Cavs 24-22 in the paint and kept their turnovers down.
In the 82-62 win over Wake Forest, Miller had eight points and five assists. The Jackets also scored 38 points in the paint.
So whether Miller’s scoring a lot or passing plenty, Tech’s chances are better as long as he’s doing at least one well.
And perhaps the bigger point is that when the Jackets get busy in the paint – either on true post moves, or on layups or dropoffs when an opposing defender leaves his man to help defend Miller when he has the ball deep in the post – they’re better.
When Miller’s busy, especially when he’s scoring, it can tilt an opposing defense.
“If we have to play on top of the defense all of the top, at this particular point we don’t have the ability to make enough plays offensively,” Gregory said. “He’s an unselfish kid in general. I haven’t done a Freudian study on the guy in case when he was 6 years old a coach told him not to shoot.
“He enjoys passing. That’s a fine line. We’re moving in the right direction. He’s much more aggressive and assertive than he was last year, and that was worlds apart from where he was before. We just need to stay in the same continuum.”