published Saturday, February 11th, 2012

UNC Greensboro coach Wes Miller giving youthful spark to Spartans

UNC Greensboro coach Wes Miller hopped on the balls of his feet while his Spartans fired up shots in McKenzie Arena on Friday.

The head coach of the Spartans had rebounding responsibilities during their shoot-around in McKenzie Arena. That's rare.

Also rare is a Division I school having a coach younger than 30 years old. And Miller is the youngest in the country after taking over for former Mike Dement in December.

Miller is 29. He looks younger than some of his players, shoots better than half of them and passes better than most of them. At least he did in the final period of the Spartans' practice Friday in McKenzie Arena.

"That's my chance to get a workout," said Miller, who finished his college career in 2007 at North Carolina.

"I think that if there's any positive to being a head coach at my age, it's that you can remember what it was like to be a player and you can relate to these guys are going through on a day-to-day basis."

Miller became interim head coach on Dec. 13 when Dement had a mutual parting of ways with athletic director Kim Record.

The Spartans lost their first six games with Miller at the helm. Then they won seven straight before a hiccup at Furman, and they share first place with Elon in the Southern Conference North Division.

Miller has done it his way -- the North Carolina way. He's coached this season based on his experiences as a player for Roy Williams and has adopted some UNC traditions such as "Plus Points." They are earned by taking charges and making hustle plays in practice that can be cashed in to avoid end-of-practice sprints.

"I've really tried not to reinvent the wheel, and our focus has been getting players to play with great energy, effort and passion," Miller said. "Getting them to play with confidence and getting them to play together is the third thing we talk about every day.

"There are some changes that I made since the transition that I'm comfortable with and I think make me a better coach."

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