Progression is a beautiful thing. Ever since taking the head coaching job on an interim basis in December of 2011, that’s what it seems like Head Basketball Coach Wes Miller has been doing. Even if the win/loss column didn’t reflect the growth of the Men’s Basketball team, it can be seen that there was something bigger that was being pieced together year after year. This season, all of that progression came to fruition as UNCG had their best season ever with a 25-10 record, a regular season SoCon title and a berth to the National Invitational Tournament.
In regards to said progression, especially considering their 15-19 season just a year ago, Miller had realized the pieces were already in place, it was just about the execution.
“I think we been building up for this type of year for the past couple years and we’ve had a really strong finish a season ago and I think we’ve been able to carry over some of the things we did from last year to this year. I guess it’s two years ago into the previous year now” he said “I think we finish off the season in 2015-16 and we were more prepared going into 2016-17 than we’ve ever been before. Certainly, having a team with some experience and our leadership was a big factor as well. Diante Baldwin being the best example of that”
Speaking of Baldwin, him and center RJ White will be graduating in May, which certainly leaves a void to be filled in the lineup as they were two integral parts of this record setting team. In terms of the impact they have left on the culture of the basketball team, Wes said of the two seniors, “Both Diante and RJ have left a legacy here. In the sense the program wasn’t in a good place competitively when they arrive and now they left it in a strong place competitively as they walk out the door. I think that legacy will carry on forever and I’m really in what they accomplished and how they changed our program.”
As for replacing them, Coach Miller then went on to add “I think what we’ll have to do is not try to replace them with one or two players but everyone that’s returning, and thank goodness we have the rest of the team returning, but everyone that’s returning has to improve a little bit more. And I think that if all our returning players have strong, incremental improvements over the offseason and the guys we add to the program come in ready to contribute, I do think we can move forward with our program and continue to have more success even when losing two important pieces.”
“Whether that’s Demetrius Troy stepping into a much bigger role at the point guard position or Jordy Kuiper stepping into a much bigger role in our front court, or Marvin Smith stepping into a bigger leadership role for this team. I expect all the guys who played significant roles to be able to give us a little more.”
Driving it home in terms of preparation of the 2017-18 season, Miller responds “I think for us to be successful, we need to build on the success we had now. We don’t talk a lot about the end result here, we spend a lot of time talking about what we’re going to do every day. We always say we’re a one day at a time program and we want to approach trying to get better and push our standards that we set here every single day. We do have ways we measure that. For us to be successful next year, we have to improve on a day to day basis. That’s boring to some people but that’s really how we try to approach it and we do believe if we approach it that way, the positive results will follow.”