Two national championships, four WIAC Coach of the Year awards and six regular season conference championships sound nice, but what stands out most to UW-W men’s head coach Pat Miller about his tenure at UW-W is consistency.
“The element I admire about coaches who are peers is longevity. Coaches who year-in-year have teams that are really good, that kind of longevity, that type of consistency is really tough to obtain.” Miller said.
Miller has a 359-105 career record seven games into his 17th season at the helm of the UW-W men’s basketball team, including national championship wins in 2012 and 2014. In the Warhawks first game of the season, a victory over Claremont Mudd-Scripps, Miller passed WIAC-coaching legend Bo Ryan in career wins at the D-III level.
Entering the season Miller’s .772 career winning percentage was good for 17th all-time amongst all divisions, ranking him above coaches like John Calipari, Ryan and Mike Krzyzewski.
“I’ve been fortunate to have always been in situations where winning takes place,” Miller said. “If nothing else I’ve learned what elements are required for teams to win.”
Miller won one more national championship with the Warhawks as a player in the 1989 season. He was enshrined in the UW-W athletic hall of fame as a player in 2006. After graduating from UW-W Miller went on to play professionally in Europe. After a couple years as a pro and two years as a teacher and coach in Illinois Miller returned to his alma mater in 1993 to become an assistant to his former head coach Dave Vander Meulen, the only UW-W head coach with more career wins than Miller.
Miller would be an assistant coach for eight seasons before taking over the head coaching position in 2001. He owes a lot of his success to the foundation that Vander Meulen left.
“The legacy I inherited from Dave Vander Muelen, and what he was able to accomplish set an extraordinarily high standard.” Miller said. “To be a part of a program that’s been as successful as Whitewater has for the past four or five decades has really been a great experience.”
Miller says his best quality as a head coach is the intolerance of things being done incorrectly. This drive for consistent greatness filters down from the head coach onto the players.
“He keeps it honest no matter if you want to hear it or not.” senior guard Jerry Ngobi said. “He doesn’t really think about winning. It’s just ‘there’s a certain way to do things, a certain way to go about your life and success will follow’. So he’s an example to live a certain way.”
This season Miller has the Warhawks ranked at No. 3 in the nation with a 7-1 record. In years past his name has been thrown around in some rumors for head coaching jobs, but it will take a lot to convince him to leave the program that has been his basketball home since 1985.
“Whitewater is a great school and a great community. There’s a lot of D-II jobs that aren’t nearly as good as this job and I’d argue there are some low-level D-I jobs that aren’t as good as this job.” Miller said.
Despite the success Miller has had on the court it’s the relationships off the floor that have contributed to his best memories as a head coach.
“His best attribute is the way he deals with players, he understands and knows how to coach players to their strengths and weaknesses .” Assistant coach Lou Chapman said about Miller.