June 30, 2011
By Mike Stamus
It’s been an interesting ride for Georgia Tech sophomore Daniel Miller, and in many ways it’s just getting started.
After the 6-11 center from Loganville, Ga., originally signed with Georgia out of high school, he changed direction and enrolled at Georgia Tech after the Bulldogs had a coaching change. One red-shirt year and a freshman season later, the Yellow Jackets have changed coaches, and Miller finds himself re-starting his college career once again.
Miller started every game in the post for the Yellow Jackets a year ago, averaging 4.4 points and 5.0 rebounds while leading Tech in blocked shots with 67. He posted a pair of double-figure scoring games – 14 against Savannah State and 12 at Virginia – but his job was to rebound, play defense and facilitate the offense with good screening and passing.
With eight scholarship players returning from last year’s team, new head coach Brian Gregory has told Miller he will become a more integral part of the Jackets’ system, not only on the defensive end, but as a post scorer. To that end, Miller has spent a lot of time this off season working on his post offense and developing his scoring moves and shooting.
Meanwhile, after a busy schedule of lifting, conditioning workouts, pickup games and classes this summer, he spends much of his free time with Tech’s other sophomore center, Nate Hicks, a lot of that at the beach. He celebrates his 20th birthday Friday.
Sting Daily: You and your teammates have a pretty full schedule between classes, lifting and conditioning. How’s your summer going?
Miller: It’s jam-packed. We’ve got a lot of workouts, a lot of tutoring sessions, study halls and weights. It’s a busy summer.
Sting Daily: What are you doing for fun in your free time?
Miller: Not much during the week, but on the weekends, we get some time off. We went to the beach not too long ago. This weekend, we get three days off for the Fourth of July, and I might go to the beach. I love the beach. I like the white, sandy beaches with clear water.
Sting Daily: Does that mean the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic?
Miller: The Gulf.
Sting Daily: Do you and Nate (Hicks, from Panama City) hang out down there?
Miller: Yes, sir. We’ve been twice so far. I think that’s the plan for the weekend.
Sting Daily: When you go to the beach, what do you like to do? Get in the water, parasail….?
Miller: Relax. I’d love to parasail, but I haven’t done that yet. We do some fishing, some shark fishing. Nate knows all the secrets, being the local down there. We just take it easy.
Sting Daily: Do you go out in the water and deep-sea fish?
Miller: No, we just fish from the shore. Nate does a lot of [deep-sea fishing], and we might do that this weekend. I haven’t done that.
Sting Daily: You can fish for sharks from the shore?
Miller: You can. It might not be the biggest shark. Sometimes it is, but usually only three feet, four feet long.
Sting Daily: What is the biggest fish you’ve caught?
Miller: Probably a shark. They’re already bigger than anything else we catch. About five feet long.
Sting Daily: Do you eat them or throw them back?
Miller: I haven’t, but you can. We were going to last time, but Nate didn’t feel like cutting it up.
Sting Daily: Coach Gregory had to hit the ground running when he got here getting you guys going in individual instruction and implementing everything on the off the court for the team. What has that been like?
Miller: Just how tough it is. It’s really intense in the off-season. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in my life, outside of the season. This is good. When the pre-season comes, we’ll already be in shape. Then we can just build on that and continue to do our individual workouts. I’ll have Coach (Billy) Schmidt for the big men. He’ll teach me and help me add on to what I’ve already learned. My skills have gone up, my hook shots and post moves are better. I’ve worked a lot on those, gotten a lot of repetitions.
Sting Daily: In the spring, what did you have to improve on the most, and what did Coach Gregory emphasize with you?
Miller: He’s said that I’ll be a big part of the team this year, and I have to be an offensive threat. Last year, I wasn’t much of an offensive threat. I could score here and there when I wasn’t being guarded much, get an open pass. But they’re going to go to me a lot more, and I need to be able to free up some of the other guys and get them wide open shots.
Sting Daily: Do you feel like your offense is coming along?
Miller: It’s coming along pretty good. I just need to get that go-to post move. Everyone’s got their one move they go to, and I need to figure out mine and have some counters off of it. I have to learn to attack faster. Catch the ball in the post, check everything out, and go to a move, and go faster.
Sting Daily: How does all the intense conditioning relate to the depth this team will have? Are you preparing to play more minutes?
Miller: It’ll be very important. We’ll get those extra couple minutes when normally we might come out and take a break. That’ll be key. We don’t have very much depth, and we have to make it work. A lot of it comes with conditioning.
Sting Daily: As you watch the demolition crews gutting the Coliseum, how much have you thought about not playing on campus next year?
Miller: I wish we had a place at home. Playing at Philips will be exciting, but I don’t know how much the fans and students will be there for every game. We’re trying to get a new place, and it’ll be exciting once it’s here.
Sting Daily: What courses are you taking this summer?
Miller: I’m taking seven hours. I just finished up a career development class and a computer science class, and now I’m taking organizational behavior.
Sting Daily: Is there anything in the organizational behavior class that can be applied to the team setting?
Miller: It’s about the workforce, but you can relate it to basketball a little, dealing with teammates is like dealing with employees.
Sting Daily: You’ve had an interesting ride since you signed with Georgia out of high school, coming here after a coaching change there and now experiencing a coaching change here. How have you dealt with that?
Miller: I really liked Coach Hewitt, and it was tough to see that happen. But I knew we were going to bring good coach in here, and you have to trust what’s happening with the program. You still have to give your best effort and not just leave because of a coaching change. You’ve got to tough it out.
Sting Daily: What would be your message to Tech fans about what the team is doing now to prepare for next season?
Miller: It’s going to be a new style of game, very up-tempo, a lot of pressure, and it’s going to be exciting and fun to play in. It’ll be fun to watch. It’s tough with the conditioning, but once it’s over, I’m happy I’ve done it, and feel good about myself.