Miller wants a national crown as the Warhawks’ coach

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Gazette staff
Thursday, March 15, 2012
— It’s a given Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s basketball players are among the best and brightest in the classroom, but how sharp is their basketball acumen?

UW-Whitewater (27-4) will find out 7 p.m. Friday in a semifinal of the NCAA Division III Final Four in Salem, Va. Illinois Wesleyan University (23-7) meets Cabrini College (30-1) at 5 p.m. in the other semifinal. The winners play at 7 p.m. Saturday for the national championship.

The Engineers (29-1) won the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference title, and are making their fourth NCAA tournament appearance and first Final Four. Coach Larry Anderson is in his 17th season at MIT.

Pat Miller, a Janesville Craig graduate, is making his first Final Four appearance in his 11-years as Whitewater coach, but played on Whitewater’s 1989 national championship team under Dave Vander Meulen.

Miller coached the Warhawks to the second highest victory total, and second highest winning percentage in school history.

Chris Davis, a 6-foot-6 forward, averaged 22.2 points and eight rebounds to lead Whitewater. Davis has been named the 2012 NABC All-West District Player of the Year.

The Engineers’ 6-9 Noel Hollingsworth averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds. Hollingsworth was named to the 2012 second-team NABC All-Northeast District team.

Miller said the ’89 title team was similar to his current team.

“We took a sense of momentum going into the tournament,” said Miller, who was named the WIAC Coach of Year for the third time and 2012 NABC All-West District Coach of the Year. “We had a lot of confidence and feeling of closeness as a team, and our team has the same thing going.’’

As for MIT, Miller said the Engineers have a strong tandem to man the guards and are physical in the front line, but he said there are ways to attack the Engineers.

“They are not a very deep team,” Miller said. “They had a player injured, and I think they have a nucleus of six players.’’

Meanwhile, Miller said the Warhawks’ can rely on Janesville Craig graduate Lucas Burns for leadership.

“Lucas has been an integral part of our team and most respected leader on our team,” Miller said. “Guys look up to him in terms of attitude and work ethic.

“He has not had a significant amount of minutes, but when he has been called on he has been productive.’’

Miller added he has confidence that sophomore Eric Bryson, an Elkhorn High graduate, will play with cool under pressure.

“Eric has played in big games, and he is a savvy kid,” Miller said. “He is a great defender and does a lot of the little things we need done. We have younger guys, but I put a lot of trust in them.’’

Last updated: 2:23 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

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