It's Mike Miller time
Janesville Craig turned to one of its own to fill some big shoes.
Mike Miller, a 1987 Craig graduate and an assistant on the Cougar coaching staff for the past 10 seasons, has been named as the Craig High boys head basketball coach.
Miller steps up to replace Bob Suter, who was head coach for 23 seasons. Suter announced his retirement last month.
Suter, who was inducted into the Wisconsin High School Coaches Association Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, finished with 386 varsity victories. He will be inducted into the Janesville Sports Hall of Fame next month.
Craig athletic director Monte Phillips told Miller of the decision Thursday. The 40-year-old is not worried about stepping in to succeed Suter.
“To be honest, that is not a concern,” Miller said Friday night. “Bob had a great career, and they say never to follow a legend. But this is a great high school basketball program, and I just have to get our kids to compete.”
Miller grew up playing basketball, starting with neighborhood ball. His brother, Pat, is a successful men’s basketball coach at UW-Whitewater.
Mike earned All-Big Eight Conference honorable mention as member of Suter’s first team as head coach, and the Cougars won the conference title in the 1986-87 season.
One of Mike’s Craig classmates and basketball teammates, Ryan Masterson, took over the Janesville Parker boys basketball job last year.
“I’m excited,” Mike said. “Obviously being a Craig graduate, this is the place I want to be. I love coaching, and this is a great opportunity.”
Phillips said Miller was the only candidate to interview for the job.
“We decided to treat this like the football opening,” Phillips said. “In the football job, because of the uncertainty of teaching positions internally, we didn’t open it up externally.
“I think because we had such an excellent candidate (in Miller), there were no other internal applicants.”
This is the second head coaching job for Miller. He guided the Parker boys program for two years in 1997 and 1998, but had limited success.
“Our style will be dictated by the team,” Miller said. “At Parker, we didn’t have the players that could run up and down the court and press. In the past, we’ve been able to do that here.”
Phillips, who was part of the administration team that hired Miller for the Parker job, said Miller has coached at all the levels of high school.
“He’s coached freshmen, sophomores and JV,” Phillips said. “One thing that impressed us is his teams improve throughout the year. Mike has a knowledge of the game, a feel for the game.”
Phillips and Craig principal Dr. Michael Kuehne made the decision to offer Miller the job. Steve Salerno, director of human and administrative services, gave the final approval.
Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in education at Beloit College in 1992, where he also continued playing baseball and basketball. He was a multiple-time letter winner in each sport. In 2002, he enrolled at UW-Whitewater.
His first coaching job was the boys junior varsity job at Beloit Catholic High School. After one season at Beloit Catholic, he was the girls basketball coach at Campbellsport for three years. He then was the junior varsity boys’ basketball coach at Monticello High School for two seasons.
Miller, who teaches psychology and U.S. history, is married to Sloan. The couple have three children, Sydney, 9; Allison, 7; Madelyn, 3.