The ones that got away for Penn basketball

When Penn takes on La Salle on Saturday, the Explorers’ senior center Garvin Hunt may give the Quakers at least a glimpse of what might have been for them.

That’s because Hunt was once a highly touted recruit of former Penn head coach Glen Miller’s. Hunt got attention from Miami, Florida and Harvard before choosing to play for Miller in Oct. 2007. But after appearing in just six games his freshman season, Hunt decided that academics were more important than athletics, leaving the program. He told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman in September that he contented himself with playing pickup basketball three or four times a week against fellow student-athletes.

But Hunt decided to take advantage of the fifth-year graduate transfer rule after getting his degree in architecture in May 2012, joining the La Salle basketball program. Since then, Hunt has played just 18 total minutes in seven games for the Explorers.

Hunt may be a rarely used reserve for La Salle, but he’s a good excuse to think about just a couple of other players that left under Miller or openly because of Miller who are still playing college basketball.

Brian Fitzpatrick, Bucknell: Fitzpatrick played in 17 games off the bench as a freshman for Penn in 2009-10, averaging 9.2 minutes per game. But Fitzpatrick didn’t see room for himself on Penn’s roster and questioned Miller’s recruiting discretion, bolting for Bucknell in the summer of 2010.

Now a senior forward for the Bison, Fitzpatrick also played in all 35 games for Bucknell last year, when he averaged 11.8 minutes per contest. In 15 games this season, he has averaged 1.7 points and grabbed 1.1 rebounds per contest.

Kevin Panzer, Nevada: Panzer was one of Miller’s most heralded recruits for the class of 2014 beforehe decommitted four games into the 2009-10 season (and three games before Miller got canned). He would have provided a much needed offensive big man for the Quakers.  

Panzer played in all 32 games in 2010-11 as a freshman for Nevada, earning 10 starts within the first 13 games of the season and averaging 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game.  He was Nevada’s leading scorer off the bench as a sophomore and as a junior this season, is now averaging 5.6 points per game.

So even 1117 days after Miller was fired by Penn, his recruits are still out there. So keep an eye peeled out for Garvin Hunt on Saturday.

He’s baaaaack: Glen Miller a candidate for Brown head coach job

Glen Miller might be the smartest man to ever coach Ivy League basketball.

Word up the Northeast corridor is that Miller is a candidate for the head coach opening at Brown in the wake of Jesse Agel's firing. Miller was the most successful coach in Bears history, before he left to take Fran Dunphy's coveted position coaching at Penn in 2006. After devastating the Quakers' program in 3.5 short years, Miller was fired, and has since served as Basketball Operations coordinator and an assistant under Jim Calhoun.

GoLocalProv.com has more on the short list for the Brown job (which includes Penn assistant and stud Mike Martin).

So why is Miller the smartest coach in the history of the Ancient Eight? After running the Penn program into the ground during his tenure here, he destroyed the League's most successful program over the previous decade. It was all just a beautifully concocted mastermind plan to derail the competition and, when he returns to coach the Bears, bring an Ivy title to Providence.

Inception.

Turn Back the Clock: The Glen Miller Era begins

As we await this weekend’s basketball opener Friday night at UMBC, this week’s segment will turn back the clock to a dark time in Penn hoops history — the Glen Miller Era. But it didn’t start out that way, as Miller experienced some initial success before the program eventually plummeted to a low point in the beginning of the 2009-10 season.

On this day in Penn sports history …

November 10, 2006: The Glen Miller Era began in Syracuse, N.Y., when Penn took on UTEP for the first of three games in the Black Coaches Association Invitational. Before coming to Penn, Miller had first been an assistant coach at Connecticut under Jim Calhoun, and later he was the head man at Brown for seven seasons. The Quakers had gone 20-9 in 2005-06 under Fran Dunphy and were the defending Ivy League champions. The Miners also were playing their first game under a new coach, Tony Barbee, a former assistant under John Calipari at Massachusetts and Memphis.

Continue reading

Glen Miller officially named UConn asst coach

We buzzed this in mid-April, but on May 4th, UConn made it official by announcing former Penn head man Glen Miller as the team's newest assistant coach. Miller served this year as the director of basketball operations for the Huskies, and could be seen on the sidelines during UConn's run to the NCAA title. He was the head coach for the Quakers from 2006 until Dec. of 2010, when he was fired after Penn fell to an 0-7 start.

According to the release:

"I am so happy to be able to move Glen into the position of assistant coach," said [UConn] head coach Jim Calhoun. "Glen is an exceptional teacher of the game of basketball and I am excited that he will be able to get back on the court for us this year."

"I am thrilled to be back on the court coaching and teaching and also back on the road recruiting," said Miller. " I enjoyed the past year being back here at UConn and hope that I can continue to have a positive impact in an assistant coach spot."

Glen Miller gets a promotion

Just 12 days after Connecticut won the national title, the Huskies have shaken up their coaching staff. According to the Journal Inquirer, former Penn head man Glen Miller will take over the assistant coaching position vacated by Andre LaFleur, who is expected to leave for Providence. The article states that Miller's role will now include recruiting and working with current players. It also gave Miller high praise for the work he did as director of basketball operations this past year, "redefining the position, acting as a liaison between the basketball office and the UConn administration." The move allows him to get back into the X's and O's side of things, which has always been hailed as his strength, in hopes of eventually landing another head coaching gig. Miller reportedly considered the Colgate job that opened up in March.

Glen Miller: A study on the evolution of bench histrionics

I'm not the first DPer to write about Glen Miller this week, but whereas my colleague Matt Flegenheimer could write a thousand words on the subject, I'll let pictures do the talking. A former DP Sports ed. brought this photo to my attention, and it's really too good not to share.

It's at least a couple decades old, and ran with a story on ESPN.com about the Jim Calhoun-John Calipari rivalry, which will have its flames stoked again this weekend.

You'll notice right below Calhoun's backside a steely-eyed young lad by the name of Glen Miller, hunched over on all fours, paisley tie dangling in the heat of the moment.

ncb_a_jimcts_400

Flash forward to 2006-2009. Miller has left his role as an assistant, now the head man here at Penn. The title may have changed, but the position remained the same:

And today, Miller is back on the Connecticut bench, right where it all started. What a difference 20 years makes.

Marquette Connecticut Basketball

Hoops coaching carousel starts turning

With only two weeks remaining in the college basketball season, we're starting to see coaching moves and rumors popping up across the country. I came upon two interesting notes today concerning the coaches of two prominent Penn opponents: Villanova and Princeton.

ESPN Insider, citing Adam Zagoria's ZagsBlog.com, listed Sydney Johnson as a candidate for the opening at Fairfield after the Stags' Ed Cooley moved on to Providence. It doesn't seem to be anything more than a rumor at this point, and Johnson's name was part of a list of five different candidates to replace Cooley. I would be utterly shocked if Johnson left Princeton, at least this season. Frankly I find it interesting his name is even being tossed around, not because he's unworthy of a better gig, but because I just don't see him leaving Princeton anytime soon.

According to GoVolsXtra.com, 'Nova's Jay Wright is being considered as one of five leading candidates to take over for Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. This seems like a much more likely scenario than Sydney Johnson leaving Princeton. 'Nova loves Jay Wright, and he loves 'Nova, Philadelphia, and the Big 5, but I don't see him being as tied down to the Wildcats as Johnson is to his alma mater. It definitely wouldn't be an easy or obvious move for Wright to make. Some might even see it as a step down from Villanova to Tennessee (I would be on that boat). But in the craziness of the coaching carousel, this at least seems plausible and it's worth keeping an eye on. Wright's name has come up in coaching rumors the past few years, and after a very tumultuous end to this season, it might be the time we see him move on.

Ed's note: rumors are also swirling around the internet that former Penn coach and current director of basketball operations at UConn, Glen Miller is top on the candidate list for an opening at Colgate. Interestingly, the athletic director at Colgate, David Roach, was the AD at Brown when Miller was hired there, so the two are already well acquainted.

Glen Miller speaks

For anyone who follows Penn basketball and college hoops as a whole, it was hard to miss one face on ESPN over and over again this week: former Quakers coach Glen Miller, now director of basketball operations at UConn. As the Huskies made an incredible 5-games-in-5-days run to the Big East Championship, Miller was right there — on the bench, in the huddle, drawing up plays on the whiteboard, blurrily standing in front of ESPN's camera shot of Kemba Walker...

In just a season and a half, Miller has gone from mid-season Ivy dismissal to Big East champ and belle of the Big Dance. While Miller is busy preparing for the NCAA tourney next weekend, Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenwald was at the Big East tourney and caught up with the man who he used to interview beneath the Palestra bleachers. Check out his transcript here for more, but here's a few snippets:

Do you see yourself at some point, whether in the short- or medium-term, getting back into head coaching?

Yeah. Once you’ve been a head coach, you certainly still think you can do a good job. Hopefully another opportunity comes at some time. But for right now it’s just, when you’re on a team, whether you’re a player or a coach, you’re trying to contribute everything you can to help your program win.

My role is different here, and again I’m just trying to do what I can here and take care of, game by game, helping this program move forward. And winning a big game like today. I think when you win, everybody is rewarded for that, so hopefully down the road I’ll get another opportunity.

Do you still talk to any of your former players from Penn or Brown?

Yeah, you know, here and there. I don’t get to that much. Again, you’re wrapped up in the moment, and they’re busy with their seasons and their careers. So not as much as I might like. But I’m just enjoying this season and what we’re into right now at the University of Connecticut.

Translation: not so much.

One year after the Glen Miller firing

Today Penn basketball celebrates (er...) an anniversary. Exactly one year ago, Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky sent head coach of men's basketball Glen Miller packing, and elevated the new guy — the new, old guy — Jerome Allen, who was then the volunteer assistant coach, to the status of interim head man.

The story has been well told over the last year: how Miller took over a championship team in 2006, led the Quakers to another Ivy title in 2007, and then the Quakers faithful watched as the team sunk to the status of has-been over the last two seasons — capped with an 0-10 run to start 2009-10 and punctuated by Miller's firing seven games into the worst start in program history.

The story of Allen's rise to the top of the program that he once ran as point guard has been similarly chronicled: How he and his Quakers finally got their first win over winter break at Maryland-Baltimore County; how three days earlier they suffered the program's worst ever defeat, 114-55, at the hands of eventual-national champion Duke; how Penn finished 5-9 in the Ivy League, tied for fifth with the likes of Columbia and Brown and just above the bottom dwelling Dartmouth Big Green; how the stumbling Quakers toppled No. 22 ranked Cornell at the Palestra, storming the court as the Big Red were whisked out of the national spotlight, for a few weeks at least; and how Allen was named head coach in March.

And so a year later much has changed. Glen Miller landed himself a job Connecticut's director of basketball administration — "It is what it is,” Miller told the New Haven Register over the summer. “It’s a step backward, the first time I’ve had to experience a step back like this, but I’m just very excited to get this opportunity."

Back at Penn, there's a different attitude at the Cathedral of college basketball. Penn surely has a chip on its collective shoulder, coming out of the worst season in program history, but there's a refreshing attitude of winning, or at least wanting to win. This isn't the Ivy frontrunner that alumni expect the team to be on a perennial basis, but it appears to be heading back in that direction.

In eight games so far this season, the Quakers (4-4) have already downed three teams (Davidson, Lafayette, UMBC) that had roles in the 0-10 start to last year, and they'll get a chance at another, Delaware, next week. They hung tough with a No. 12 Villanova team that looked capable of doing serious damage (though, as we learned afterward, there's no such thing as a moral victory for Allen). Team defense, a focus of Allen's, has improved greatly. But there are still problems, highlighted by Penn's second-half meltdown against Manhattan, where the Quakers gave up 17-straight points to end the game and lose it.

Miller's last full recruiting class is a non-entity, struck from the record, after sophomores Sean Mullan and Tommy Eggleston were cut from the squad during the preseason. Former classmate Brian Fitzpatrick transferred to Bucknell when the roster ballooned to over 20 players over the summer, much like Carson Sullivan, also a sophomore, who left the team to seek a "better situation," closer to his Charlotte, N.C., home.

The recruiting class of 2014, begun by Miller and held onto by Allen, has so far been an asset if only in one name: Miles Cartwright. The freshman and two-time Ivy Rookie of the Week has exceeded his own expectations, his coaches expectations and almost everyone else's expectations. He's averaging 11.1 points per game — below only captains Jack Eggleston and Zack Rosen — and playing 27.1 minutes per game — more than all of his classmates combined — with the poise, drive and basketball IQ of a player far beyond just his eighth collegiate game.

But a year later, what Allen truly brings back to the program can't be established with statistics or win-loss records. He brings an unrivaled appreciation to be where he is, coaching on the hardwood he ran in the early 90s. He brings an understanding of the program, both a knowledge of its history and a vision for its future. He earns respect from his players, setting an example for how to conduct one's self both on and off the court.

The program is undoubtedly in better hands than it was 366 days ago. But can those hands that once drained basket after basket at the Palestra now guide the team back to prominence? A year is surely too short a time to tell.

Sources: Glen Miller returns to UConn

In a move that had been speculated in the rumor mill over the past few weeks, the Journal Inquirer is reporting that ex-Penn basketball head coach Glen Miller will be hired as the director of basketball administration at the University of Connecticut. The official announcement should come in the next day or two, the article states, meaning Miller will have gone unemployed for about five months since his firing from Penn in December of last year.

Miller is a UConn graduate who served as an assistant under Jim Calhoun from 1986 to 1993 before taking head coaching positions at Connecticut College, Brown and Penn. Calhoun is apparently looking to renew old ties, as the Journal Inquirer is also reporting that his former player (and ex-Sixer) Kevin Ollie will be named as an assistant coach.