The Warhawks had nearly as many turnovers (345) as assists (357), and Whitewater’s guards shot less than 40 percent from the field.
Because of the inconsistent guard play and two season-ending injuries, the Warhawks failed to reach the 20-win plateau for only the second time in Miller’s six seasons.
With the 2007-08 season set to tip off on Friday night against Eureka College, Miller believes the Warhawks have solved their problems from a year ago.
“Our perimeter players are definitely better than they were last year,” he said. “I think we have a little higher basketball IQ with this group. There seems to be a better understanding of the game.
“Sometimes you evaluate your team based on what you talk about. Last year, we spent a lot of time constantly talking about shot selection and ball movement. We haven’t done that a lot this year because they just go out and do it.”
Whitewater, 18-9 overall and fourth in the WIAC a year ago, has been picked for second place this season behind defending champion UW-Stevens Point. The Warhawks return two starters, including Janesville Craig graduate Josh King, and they have two players from injury. Madison Memorial graduate Kori Vernon, a 6-foot-6 junior, is the other returning starter.
Senior Rob Perry, who started seven games last season before a knee injury sidelined him, earned All-WIAC honorable mention in 2006. Perry underwent microfracture surgery—the same procedure as No. 1 NBA draft pick Greg Oden—but is close to 100 percent, according to Miller.
“Having Rob and Billy (Kolinske) back from injuries gives us a lot more depth along the front line,” Miller said. “That’s something we didn’t have the luxury of last year.”
King came on strong late last season. The 6-7 senior started six games and led the team in rebounding five times. King had his best game against UW-Platteville in the second-to-last-game with a team-high 16 points and six rebounds.
“Josh is a technically-sound player who seems to always be in the right spot,” Miller said. “He makes the correct reads.
“Even though he’s not real flashy, he’s very productive. We’re a better team when he’s on the floor.”
Miller hopes two transfers can shore up a backcourt lacking proven scorers or ball-handlers. Matt Goodwin, a junior, transferred from Pacific University after leading the National Junior College Athletic Association in scoring (24.8) as a sophomore. Goodwin led Milwaukee King to the 2004 WIAA Division 1 state title and will joined in the backcourt by transfer Myles McKay, who spent the last two seasons at UW-Milwaukee.
Jefferson High graduate Kevin Koski, a sophomore, is expected to log minutes at shooting guard.
“The guys we’ve brought in have some pretty good credentials,” Miller said. “I’ve been impressed with how they’ve fit in.
“We struggled at times last year with our perimeter game, but I think Matt and Myles will help strengthen our backcourt.”
Whitewater’s 2007-08 schedule:
HOME GAMES AT WILLIAMS CENTER
NOVEMBER: 16—Eureka College (Tip Off Tournament), 7:30 p.m.; 17—MSOE or North Park (Tip Off Tournament), 5:00 or 7:30 p.m.; 20—At Carroll College, 7 p.m.
DECEMBER: 1—UW-Stevens Point, 5 p.m.; 5—At UW-Oshkosh, 7 p.m.; 8—UW-Superior, 3 p.m.; 16—At Mount Olivet College, 2 p.m.; 18—Cardinal Stritch, 7 p.m.; 29—At St. Norbert Tournament, TBD; 30—At St. Norbert Tournament, TBD.
JANUARY: 5—At UW-River Falls, 3 p.m.; 9—At UW-La Crosse, 7 p.m.; 12—At UW-Eau Claire, 5 p.m.; 19—UW-Stout, 5 p.m.; 23—UW-Platteville, 7 p.m.; 26—At UW-Superior, 3 p.m.; 30—UW-La Crosse, 7 p.m.
FEBRUARY: 2—UW-Eau Claire, 5 p.m.; 6—At Luther College, 7 p.m.; 9—At UW-Stout, 5 p.m.; 13—UW-Platteville, 7 p.m.; 16—At UW-Stevens Point, 5 p.m.; 20—UW-Oshkosh, 7 p.m.; 23—UW-River Falls, 3 p.m.