Image: Amy Voigt/The Blade
Yesterday was a very special day for Bowling Green coach, Curt Miller as his team cruised by Jacksonville for an 83-53 victory. It wasn’t that his team dominated a Jacksonville team en route to an easy 30 point win; it was that he has become the second winningest coach in MAC history.
“This one was special to me today,” said Miller. “Because I have such great respect for Mark Ehlen, what he did at Toledo in his first 8 years especially is unprecedented. It may never be done again. And I look up to coaches like Mark Ehlen and [former Toledo coach] Bill Fennelly, [former Bowling Green coach] Fran Voll and certainly now and to have my name on those same lists as them and have surpassed them, means a great deal to me.
“Because Mark Ehlen is not only a colleague, a friend but I think a fantastic coach. So to be written about tomorrow morning in the paper with me in the same sentence as Mark Ehlen is a big deal with me. That is a special win tonight”
When people think of fiery coaches, most would safely conjure up thoughts of Geno Auriemma who gives off the “tough guy look” or Pat Summitt and her famous “glare” that looks like it could cut through steel. But when you see Miller, he doesn’t immediately inspire fear at first glance. He actually has the physical resemblance of Jim Halpert, the lead character in the hit TV show, “The Office.” But looks can be deceiving as Miller has a fire that’s unparalleled, unquestioned and he uses it to push his team to excellence.
It was clear from the outset that Jacksonville was overmatched for the much more talented and disciplined Bowling Green. With 14:42 left in the first half, Bowling Green was already up, 13-2 and by the 7:54 mark, 29-10. What was most impressive is that usually in games like this where a team is clearly outmatched, the better team sometimes falls into a lull and plays down to the competition. But there’s one axiom that always rings true with any Curt Miller coached team, “players reflect their head coach.” Miller’s competitive fire was so evident that with 6:12 left, he got a technical foul because of a missed call by a referee even though his team was up by almost twenty points.
“The bottom line today was to have execution and worry about us and not worry about them,” said Miller. “And to play up, play up, play up, we didn’t want to play down.”
And for the vast majority of the game, that’s exactly what Bowling Green did in which they set the tone. After establishing a halftime lead of seventeen, Bowling Green didn’t waste any time as they continued to overwhelm Jacksonville. The assertive play of Jillian Halfhill contributed to the early momentum in the second half as they executed their offense with such precision. It was apparent that they understood and received Miller’s message of playing up, so much so that by the 14:10 mark, Bowling Green had pushed their lead to 30 points.
“Tonight, Jillian matched up and got us into things,” said Miller. [She] made the right reads, kind of the set the tempo in transition and I thought played a good floor game.”
“After her breakout performance of 22 points, really the Youngstown [State] and Austin Peay games were disappointment for her, so she bounced back tonight and I thought played a better game.”
As the game wound down and it was perceptible that Bowling Green was in complete control, Miller didn’t relinquish the intensity that has helped him build Bowling Green into a perennial mid-major power. Even though he was able to rest his starters for a lot of the second half, he still held his bench to the same standard of excellence as the got an opportunity to play more.
They say that numbers don’t lie, that effort is something that you can’t cheat. With Bowling Green, it was palpable by their performance in the second half that the players took heed to Miller’s message of not letting up. Even though Bowling Green shot a good percentage in the first half, they actually shot much better in the second half. Their field goal percentage increased from 48.3% in the first half to 57.7% in the second. And just how there’s something special when you watch a Tim Tebow led team play, there’s something special about Curt Miller and his leadership at Bowling Green State University.
“Coach [Miller] always stresses regardless of the team’s record that we need to play hard,” said Bowling Green player Danielle Havel. “That we need to go and do what we need to do to get better. And that’s kind of the focus for the game today and I think we obviously executed and it was a good win.”
Top Performers for Bowling Green:
- Danielle Havel – 13 points
- Jessica Slagle – 12 points
- Noelle Yoders – 10 points
- Jillian Halfhill – 10 points, 4 assists
Top Performers for Jacksonville:
- Tracie Sneed – 15 points, 14 rebounds
- Crystal Bell – 10 points