published Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Finding success UNCG gets first wins for new coach Wes Miller

UNC Greensboro coach Wes Miller encourages his team.
UNC Greensboro coach Wes Miller encourages his team.
Photo by Contributed Photo.

The Spartans had a reason to hoot an holler on their trip back from The Citadel on Saturday.

Trevis Simpson converted on a dunk in the last second to give UNC Greensboro a 67-66 win over the Bulldogs.

It was their second win in 48 hours.

It was also their second victory for interim head coach Wes Miller who, at 29-years-old, is the youngest Division I head coach in the country.

"It was a big weekend for this team," Miller said Tuesday on the SoCon teleconference. "We've been through quite a big transition, and it hasn't been easy on our players. Going 11 games without a win is tough on any team."

So is going through a coaching change.

UNCG athletics director Kim Record replaced former coach Mike Dement with Miller on Dec. 13 after the Spartans started the season 2-8 with two SoCon losses.

"I felt that looking after all the factors that Wes would be the best person to take over in the interim role," Record said. "Those decisions are always difficult."

Miller reveled in his first victory as a head coach. His team beat Charleston which has a resume of wins over the likes of Tennessee and Clemson. And the win came over famed coach Bobby Cremins who has 579 career wins and Miller admired as a player at North Carolina for Roy Williams.

"It was relief more than anything," Miller said. "What was really special about it was that Coach Cremins -- who we all know is a legend -- really took some time to congratulate me and talk to me.

"The moment is a bit of a blur."

Simpson loved getting that first win for Williams. He also enjoyed beating The Citadel.

He did not enjoy the mid-season transition from Dement to Miller.

"It hurt so bad because he was like a father-figure," Simpson said. "I'd go in and just chat with him about basketball and everything.

"My last words to Coach Dement were that I didn't want to see him go and that I would miss him and that I would love him like a father-figure."

Junior guard Korey Van Dussen has noticed a difference in the team since the coaching change. It's neither good nor bad. It's just an adjustment.

"[Miller] is the type of guy that says go out there and be relaxed," Van Dussen said. "He doesn't care if we make mistakes if we're being aggressive. As long as we're giving it our all, he'll be satisfied with that."

Such an approach has led to the Spartans play with a more care-free approach which includes intense defensive pressure and a run-and-gun offensive attack whenever the hint of a fast-break rises.

That's what the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will be dealing with when they face the Spartans tonight at 7 p.m.

"They're playing so fast and with a lot of confidence," UTC coach John Shulman said. "They don't mind shooting it quick and running."

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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