5/11//20 - 20 Minutes with Curt Miller
Each Fall Hey guys this is Nicky. Colin is is welcome to the WNBA nation. Asian fans. This is Jason Snow editor here at WNBA nation Obviously you guys haven't heard from me in a while it's good to be back on. Might even if it's just for the introduction to this interview so I just wanted to hop on real quick and tell you dis What this interview is is also what we've got coming later this week so we were lucky enough to be able to get in touch with people from Connecticut sign And so we set up a couple of interviews. This is the first one of those interviews that we had With a head coach. Kurt Miller so Today you're GonNa hear from Kurt Miller This interview occurred shortly after the draft so a lot of the questions going to be about his thoughts on the draft. And things like that and then later this week we actually talked both of the Connecticut. Sun Draft Picks That episode should be coming out. Wednesday Thursday will be hearing from Volcano Kayla Charles and juicy Leandra So a lot of really good stuff especially your son famous big way but week. Even if you're not US unfair lots of interesting things these interviews. I think you're really going to like them with no further new. I'm going to toss it over to Logan who is on the phone with coach. Kurt Miller Hey coach Miller Logan Jones with wnba nation. How you doing great hope you are. Well also use well. We hope era. We'll will do him safe and healthy so really appreciate you having the you know making the time to be with us. We talk about Connecticut's in all the time on the show so it's nice that we get to say friend of the show. Kurt Miller now and we. I hope I hope that you'll have bad. I mean we hope to have you on several times. We we really enjoyed the players that you guys took on draft day is there. Is there anything about those players that obviously there was something that stuck out to you? What were those elements in? How excited are you to bring in Charles and Andrew? Yeah you know really excited. A draft night went as well as we could have hoped You know we were a little defensive going into The draft knowing that there would be a lot of chatter about us. But we're really excited about our offseason acquisition and to WanNa Bonner's the most coveted free agent In it during the off season so we there was a reason. We didn't have a first round draft pick but as the draft unfolded As I shared with many people we we had pilot Charles as a potential first round draft picks and you we prepared very very hard All the way into February when free agency started because at that point we still had to late. First round draft picks and so Pilot Charles was someone. That was very much on our radar. We believe that she was at first round talent She's got a pro ready body. We loved her versatility The ability to thrive in an UPTEMPO system. We think she can guard multiple positions. Obviously at Maryland she played some undersized for but also played with particular lineup set Maryland as a three so As we as the draft unfolded we saw her dropping She was actually one of the players on the board that we targeted that After the first four five people top six people of any of the next tier started to drop. Would it be anyone that we would try to make a draft day move? Move off the gift We didn't have any takers on trying to move up on draft night Behind the and the war rooms but to our to our luck Kyla dropped all the way to our at twenty three and so really really excited to have her and in her joining again The only thing that we can think on why she dropped this. She has had a lot of volume three point attempts. She's not a high volume attempt or make three point shooter. Obviously the game and analytics has gone a lot of three point shooting but we love her mechanics. We love her Her touch not only from fifteen feet but around the basket so we certainly believe that she's capable of adding that to her game awesome. You you mentioned war rooms a second ago. What did that look like on on draft night with everything being virtual this year yet? Another dieting leading up to it. I'm obviously at my offseason. Home in Bloomington Indiana My three assistants are all in the same apartment complex backing in Connecticut But we're all separate and then my CEELO and boss That is you know just has great experience in the WNBA. Amber Cops is obviously still in Connecticut so everybody was in Connecticut other than myself. But we were all Individually based and so with a little bit of anxiety about technology failures You know and what a virtual draft would look like for the first time but he went really smooth We were on a zoom call as a staff the whole time My longtime assistant for any whole made our selections when we were on the cloth Leaving my phone three to discuss any draft day movements with other coaches and GM's around the league and so I had my son Who's a senior in college on call in case I had a technology failure But always smooth and all went well that evening. That's that should be here we We wondered how obviously you're in touch with with both rosie drafted and Doina Bonner. But how how are you going about navigating this offseason and scheduling wind actually meet up in person with all the uncertainty going on not really being able to win the preseason leaving start? Communication is obviously still the key if you were together or apart We take the. We've taken a very balanced approach from Connecticut standpoint. While we're in touch with players individually and my assistant coaches informed great relationships or the players They're in touch with them individually We also send out messages at times. But I think we've done a really good job of leaving them alone also during these uncertain times I'm I'm big on the big unintended consequence person and talk about that all the time. So they're not used to having this fine with family We have two mothers on our team. Dewana Wagner and Free Hall that extra time with young children? is invaluable and so. I think we've also done a really good job believing that alone to manage this with family and friends and they're around but giving them the support that they need We're finally starting because training camp would have officially started on Sunday. April twenty six were now into May. We're finally getting get together on some zoom more XS and OS conversations with the team to continue to get basketball on their mind For Potential in hopeful twenty. He's so we're becoming a little bit more formal The only zoom team meeting we really had turned into assume TACO Tuesday a gathering so Other than an April Tuesday zoom where we turned it into an afternoon taco Tuesday with everybody. We really tried not to over communicate with them A trying to find that balance between showing support keeping them updated sane in touch with everyone at the same time. Leaving allow yeah. The show is a big supporter of Taco Tuesday. In all its forms I can speak for. All of my co hosts. Well yeah yesterday laugh with a great Tuesday sinks since it was Cinco de Demayo also For us in my family had a week we decided to order out and the first Restaurant that we went to pick up and ended up losing our order so he had to Try a second restaurant which then without A preorder in obviously waited in line. A long time bomb on Cinco de Mayo but we eventually got our Mexican food last night and turned it into a Taco Tuesday. Kerr show yeah. That's the thing that really kind of builds a team culture. I know cultures buzzy term especially around sports. But how important is that to you? And what makes Connecticut kind of a different place in the league? In that regard without question culture is important. All coaches certainly. In my time as the head coach the thirteen years at the Division One level back in College and then Connecticut all three programs that I've been the head coach on work rebuilding situations and I went in with the same approach at all. Three Greens Indiana University to now Connecticut. Was You had to start your culture building? You had to build it from the locker room out and it didn't if it was collegiate or pro that has been if they're successful blueprint For me in my head. Coaching career in Connecticut with no different We needed to bill. And we needed to rebuild with young core base and one of the things that I sold early on to our ownership was if you allow me to grow this and build this together and allow a core group to stay together for three or four years We have something special development and happen and we had always had that two thousand nineteen season circle from the moment. I was hired before the start of the two thousand sixteen season. And you know we're just minutes away in game five to win a world championship in part of that was allowing that culture to build and grow and the chemistry together And we pushed our chips and last year we knew that with eight creates at the end of two thousand nine thousand nine hundred and our roster was going to have to look different with going to look different in two thousand and twenty. But it's almost energized us now that there's a new New Time for us We're still hungry. We came up just a little. Bit Short We got a chip on our shoulder. That we we at times disrespected or appreciated. And what we've done over the last Three regular season so we're excited about our new pieces were excited about Infusing some of that new talent Between our draft picks between agent Acquire acquiring player so It's always about culture and it's a big part of the success that I've had as head coach. You know that's good to hear and that really shows even just just watching him play from afar on. Tv Like Connecticut is just one of those franchises in the League. That that I think a lot of people wanna play for certainly helps. The guys have been successful as of late obviously came very close last year to to climbing. That mountain definitely wanted to ask you a little bit about that and just how you go about kind of re reinforcing to to make another run in twenty twenty four. If we're able to have a season how do you go about recruiting the locker room to to have the energy in the mental fortitude to make another run comes down attitude right and effort And do we had an edge because of some postseason failures and growth opportunities We had tremendous regular seasons in two thousand seventeen in two thousand eighteen. You could argue that. We were the highest scoring team combined over those two years and became an offensive juggernaut but when we went into the second round of one play playoffs and you played against some of the goats like Diana tracey and Britney Greider and back to back years in Phoenix You know playoff as different in a one and done situation and and through those disappointments screw go through those accidents in the second round To those great phoenix players. We we were really hungry. We were We wanted to use that experience to take the next step and they certainly did that. But part of that was The chip on their shoulder wanting to take the next step so when we walk into a twenty twenty season. We have to be hungry. We have to be as motivated and not feel like we arrived We've added three pieces through free agency and trades that We believe bring championship pedigree to us. Kalina Mesquita Lewis has won championships. Not only at the collegiate level but as one at the WNBA little level with Seattle. Rian January's WanNa Championship in Indiana in the wnba played in that Greek culture at Phoenix. And then obviously the one of honor has won championships so we brought in three experienced championship. Pedigree bringing them in. It's about winning for them at this point in their career about their legacy at what Wanted in January. Who are both in their thirties? Now it's all about winning. That's about submitting their legacy You know the at the tail end of their careers the back end of their career. So we're excited about that maturity that championship pedigree we brought in when it's all gonna come down to our approach our attitude are we hungry It really fueled us in two thousand nineteen and we've got to be just as hungry You know to take that one last step in that. Fourth Quarter in game five We've got to be willing grind day in and day out to put ourselves in position again to make a playoff run. That's you mentioned just a second ago. It kinda championship pedigree of both levels. Salt Lake Filling Women's basketball's hole was getting a lot of momentum going into the NCAA tournament this year Just a lot of really good teams around the country no to me at least no clear-cut number one. Although there were there were a couple of contenders that that were kind of favorites of mine Every time the league gets coverage seems to do well. The draft this year had more viewers than it's had sixteen years. And what does it do to your and crosses the momentum for the WBZ season to not be able to have the bracket tournament this year. And did that affect your your choice in dress elections at all. It really didn't change much for us. we were very aggressive on a very aggressive approach to watch games in person Obviously until mid February we still had Two first round picks so we had been out a great deal in non conference Even early in conference play in late December early January and February. We were continuing to Really be out scouting cursing and so you disappointed anyone to watch a real competitive wide open. Tournament obviously Oregon team was loaded and South. Carolina had established themselves as the number one team in the country. You would have been a great tournament but I I I think could have been tournament. Full of upsets also because There was that no clear cut favor and that you can see on a given night some upsets so but for scouting purposes No tournament why we missed some of those great matchups and what would be great momentum for women's basketball Really on scouting was done and by then we. It obtained one bonner and no longer had first round draft picks. I guess the only thing that affected us is you concentrate. Certainly a little bit more in person on the power five matchups and the power five conference teams the final four which would have taken place in New Orleans this year would have provided an opportunity for combines and that is an opportunity at times to maybe see some of the mid major people that he had seen less in person or maybe amid major person that you didn't get to ever see in person and you did mostly your Saudi by video or TV opportunity so You know that was the only thing that was missing the final four and losing out on the combines maybe with a little bit more work on the mid major players that also provides an opportunity to do some interviewing in person and in you know getting to know the draft prospects a little bit better it just forces us to be on the phone a great deal with the draft prospects and and my staff and I were really aggressive talking to a ton of those potential draft picks and an juicy and Kylo were or to them so You know again. You know very fortunate that we ended up with the draft picks that we did. Let's to hear coach. I won't keep you too much longer but I did want to ask if as far as we know at the time being there's no plan in place for for the WNBA season. Obviously they're talking about in front of fans do we not put in for the fans the NBA is trying to put something together where they all play like Disneyworld for like a month is. Is there anything that you've thought of that might be an option for the WNBA to have a twenty twenty season and and safely go about that? Not I'm not in that. I certainly don't have a seat at the table in the time to Susan's but You know I want to compliment the WNBA communicating with us Consistently and constantly. We know they're working really really hard on modifications and contingency plans But never going to sacrifice our health and well-being not only to everyone associated with our league and all the stakeholders involved with our league but also the general public so I trust the WNBA leadership. They're just doing a tremendous job And if there is a way to have a twenty twenty I know That they're working hard to figure that out You mentioned clean site opportunities. I think a lot of professional sports. Not just the basketball world are talking about senior locations or clean site locations. And you know that has become a new buzzword and we'll leave that all up to the decision makers and and WHO figures that out in all sports if best best BUT We've just gotTA continue to Keep Grinding as coaching staffers organization as players. That do have an opportunity to have a twenty twenty season that we're ready and that's that's my job is the GM and head coaches to keep staff motivated We're were like crazy. It's amazing that I can still find ways to grind for ten to twelve hours a day and in still not Dan my things to do less at times. So it's my job just to keep everybody motivated and keep everybody ready If we get the opportunity to have a season which you mentioned ten to twelve hours of. Are there any of those things like that? The people don't see viewers of the League. They might not understand happened behind the scenes and they have no idea. I mean just like what I spent twenty years at the collegiate level in West grinding twelve hour days and and my parents are asking me early in my career. Do I also teach classes and you know like even your family members at times. Don't understand what we do you know like we're we're very blessed with passionate women's basketball fans passionate fans that follow the WNBA But I think they would be shots at you know how grind on a daily basis and and what we still have to do And you know there's things that are harder when you're separated. You think that delegation would be easier. But we're in the dual half and half are league. Where's the door had both the GM and coach You know I can get really tied up throughout the day and GM duties and not get to my coaching duties. And then there's other days where you know. You're preparing a lot of coaching staff responsibilities and duties and you know have to put off a day or two some of the GM responsibility so without being specific on everything that we do behind the scenes It is it is. I'm trying to down my phone. I'm trying to walk away during these times. And take advantage of it that I am living with my son and I've sacrificed a lot of Family and Personal Opportunity Throughout a thirty year coaching career. And so I'm trying to walk away for an hour or two a day but it's still very very easy in this fastball world kicked Ryan Cannon twelve hours a day can understand that I obviously we. We wish you luck from our show to your program. We hope that we have a season that Connecticut performs well. We appreciate you being on. Is there anything you want to say to Connecticut Sun Fans in general? Before we let you go here I would just again. I think the coach in front of the most amazing fan base in League We like describe ourselves as the women's rafts for capital of the world because of New Con- success also that were blessed to be in a state that really appreciates. Women's basketball is educated about women's basketball and You know just really really fortunate to coach in a state like that that really gets it and I can't wait to the day that we're back with them celebrating with them and and Then cheering on What I believe The championship caliber roster. And so we look forward to get back to work someday with them. Were to to see that happen coach. I'll I'll let you go but I just wanted to thank you again for being a part of our show and obviously we hope we have you on again soon. Hopefully when more to talk about in terms of this season absolutely thank you for having me. They say well to you all your listeners. Man thanks so much. They hope you join that as much as we did. Awesome Guy. We're excited to have him as a friend of the show. Now hopefully we can have them back in the future. That'll be a lot of fun so If you like this episode please let us know rate review on Itunes or whatever you have if they have Rayton rating on review features. We'd love to hear what you think you can connect with us on all of our social at WNBA nation pod Book twitter. And so if you want to stay in touch with the show get up to date news. That's usually where we put stuff first before we had the chance. To run. Over to our microphones in record so they very much. I'm Jason Snow and we got you next time.