SportsProf

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Penn Should be Patient with Coach Glen Miller

Yes, the Penn Quakers aren't having a good year.

Yes, the Penn Quakers will not win the Ivy League for the second year in a row.

Yes, Coach Glen Miller will "only" have won one title in his three years at Penn, and then only with a great group of seniors that his predecessor, Fran Dunphy, left behind.

Yes, Coach Miller had 19 players on the pre-season roster.

Yes, Coach Miller has had a couple of good recruiting classes.

But. . .

First, he was counting on three players to bring it home for Penn this year -- senior Tommy McMahon and juniors Darren Smith and Andreas Schreiber, none of whom have played a minute this season. Remember how touted McMahon and Smith were, and that Smith was supposed to be the heir apparent to Ibby Jaaber (who was one of the best players in the Ivies in a long while).

Second, he is relying on a bunch of young players -- sophomores and freshmen, mostly, to get it done this year (he isn't getting much from the remaining upperclassmen).

Third, Cornell was really patient with Steve Donahue, who had won only a third of his games at Cornell in about 7 seasons until last season, and it looks like Donahue will reward the Big Red's patience with a second straight Ivy title.

Fourth, would you have wanted to have replaced someone as beloved and successful as Fran Dunphy?

As to points three and four, let me elaborate. Yes, you'll be right if you argue that the Donahue and Miller situations are different, that Donahue had to go into a situation that didn't have much of a history and build from scratch while Miller inherited something special in a unique program and shouldn't have had the difficulty that Donahue did. Still, Miller is different from Dunphy, and adjustments take time, and, no, he is not Joe Scott (in that he's not a transplant who just doesn't fit). I know some fans think of Miller as their version of former Princeton coach Joe Scott, but is that really fair?

As to point four, compare Dunphy's departure a few years back to Pete Carril's departure from Princeton in 1996. Princeton anointed long-time top assistant Bill Carmody, who was a natural successor and who got out of the gate quickly. Carmody excelled at Princeton and was the logical choice. Penn, on the other hand, didn't have a logical successor to Dunphy other than his former top aides Steve Donahuse (who opted to remain at Cornell) and Fran O'Hanlon (the Lafayette coach, whom the Quakers somehow couldn't lure the Palestra from Easton, Pennsylvania). After those two, the Quakers didn't have logical choices and settled on Miller, a former Jim Calhoun assistant more known for being an offensive coach. There was no great logic to that move other than Miller was reasonably successful at Brown.

But that's not fair to Coach Miller, is it? He did a good job at Brown, and he won a title at Penn in his first year. He's in the process of bringing in his third recruiting class, and knowing Penn it should be a pretty good one. Yes, Princeton is improving, as are Harvard and Dartmouth, and Cornell is pretty good, but it doesn't seem to make sense to axe Miller because he has a young team and isn't Fran Dunphy.

That's my reasoning, but, Penn fans, what's yours? What's the scuttlebutt around the Palestra? How happy or unhappy is A.D. Steve Bilsky with Miller? How happy are you with him? What do you hear about recruiting? What do you think?

All typos are mine.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sportsprof

Your erstwhile fairness is admirable.

The reality for Miller remains: He won a championship with Dunphy's already gelled team. In the next two years, as his recriuiting classes have come on board, he has been unable to settle on stable line-ups and unable to help these young men work together. He has had no shortage of talent.

Most tellingly, defense has not been his strong suit.

Yes the cool, collegial team-centric Dunphy is a very hard act to follow. Some blame AD Steve Bilsky for losing him--that he would have stayed had they met his requests.

The tolerance at Cornell was longstanding because they had nowhere to go but up. Princeton did not tolerate Joe Scott very long, and Penn--likewise used to winning and with a great tradition--will give Miller another season to get it together...but after that?

1:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post; interesting comment.

Did Princeton really "fail to tolerate Joe Scott"? Wasn't it really the other way around?

As I recall, he up and left. Of course he was facing a great deal of criticism from the fans.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose it was a chicken-egg situation...or maybe, to extend the cliches, he chose to fall on his sword. Perhaps it would have been untoward for the P-ton AD to boot him, but clearly the "please go" vibe seemed pretty thick.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As much as Joe Scott was disastrous to Princeton on a historic level, I actually give the man credit for leaving on his own initiative, saving the University from what would have become an increasingly awkward situation.

Had he posted another losing season at Princeton, Scott would likely have been unemployable elsewhere. The fact that he could cull an offer from Denver after three terrible years is impressive; that he "solved" the problem of his failed tenure at his alma mater is, in my eyes, admirable.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It helped that he'd done so well at Air Force in CO Springs and hence was not damaged goods "out where the states are square" when Denver became an option.

But hey, look, the Tigers have a shot at the Ivy title this year if Cornell falters a bit. And my poor (dear) old Penn is bottom fishing.

The only good the Quakers can find is winning out(unlikely) or beating Princeton a second time (possible, but they seem to be finding ways to lose).

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a. I agree, Miller is an offensive coach.
b. If you think Miller has a chance to succeed at Penn, you were not at the Fl Gulf Coast game last year.

4:42 PM  
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11:35 AM  

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