Craig Smith, left, and Tim Miles have worked together since Miles became a head coach.
Photo by Travis Shafer/NU Media Relations

Charleston: Part One of Future Triple Play

By NU Athletic Communications

Randy York’s N-Sider

Tim Miles wears a lot of hats and plays a lot of roles for Nebraska basketball … head coach … chief recruiter … top Tweeter … team disciplinarian … leading motivator … comical character … main media man … even special schedule-maker. The Huskers will play three games in the Charleston Classic Thursday, Friday and Sunday in South Carolina because Miles believes part of his job is finding events that will create memories to inspire his players and coaches. The Huskers’ three pre-Thanksgiving games in Charleston are a testament to the relationships Miles has and his willingness to play top-tier teams instead of pad his record with lesser opponents.

When Miles was head coach at Colorado State, his team won a similar tournament on Christmas Eve in Cancun, Mexico. The Rams beat Appalachian State and Ole Miss in the first two rounds and then defeated Southern Miss for the title. “We were the Mississippi state champs that year,” Miles said. “It was a great experience for everyone who got to mix some basketball in with some beach time. I developed a relationship with a couple of ESPN guys who sponsored the tournament, and I reached out to those same guys who helped us get into this week’s tournament in Charleston.”

The Charm of Charleston; the Exposure of ESPN

Husker fans and UNL alums have circled Charleston on their calendars for months. The plan is to follow the team while gathering in a historic city that ranks among the nation’s most visited because of its unique charm and special attractions. With Charleston Harbor and Boone Hall Plantation, a sizable number of Husker fans made the trip to sample the local restaurants, take a carriage ride or two and see how a Big Ten team selected to finish in the conference’s lower level stacks up against teams from the SEC, the ACC, the Mountain West and the Atlantic 10. “We get the whole gamut of everything,” Miles told me Tuesday morning before boarding the team plane for South Carolina. “The competition’s good and the exposure’s good, too, because it’s an ESPN-sponsored event. This will be an important experience for our team.”

In line with Miles’ visionary style, the Nebraska basketball program didn’t just land in Charleston for an isolated weekend to play in a 5,100-seat facility on the campus of the College of Charleston. Miles told me Charleston is Part One of a three-year Husker Triple Play for ESPN. Next year, Nebraska will play in a tournament in Hawaii. “It’ll be a Blue Christmas for us because we’ll play the last game of that tournament on December 24th,” Miles said before adding that the Huskers also have committed to an ESPN-sponsored tournament in Anaheim in 2015.

Building Memories; Recruiting, Coaching Right

Yes, Tim Miles likes playing the role of schedule maker. He sees it as part of his obligation as a head coach. He puts “building memories” in the same category as “recruiting the right kind of players” and then “coaching them the right way.” Miles always wants his players to look forward to marquee events. “We try to find the most competitive ones we can, so we can compete and have fun at the same time,” he said.

Craig Smith, a member of Miles’ coaching staff at all stops of his career, told me that his longtime boss constantly strives to “play up” in every possible way.

“When I was an NAIA coach, seven of the first nine games we played were against NCAA Division II opponents in our region,” Miles said. “We lost them all.” But his team won in other ways. “We learned how to be more competitive by challenging our coaches and our players to compete at the higher standard,” Miles said. “We always want to try to beat the best teams we can. Eventually, you have to see what it takes to beat the best, and if you don’t play the best, you can never be the best.”

NU Opens against UMass Thursday Morning

The four teams in Nebraska’s bracket at the Charleston Classic are a combined 11-0 this season. The 3-0 Huskers play 3-0 Massachusetts (UMass) at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. If they win, the Huskers will meet the winner of Thursday’s No. 19 New Mexico (2-0) vs. UAB (3-0) game at 1:30 p.m. Friday. If Nebraska loses Thursday’s opener, it will play the other side of the bracket loser at 11 a.m. Friday. Saturday is a day off for all eight teams. Clemson, Temple, Georgia and Davidson are the four teams in the opposite bracket. All eight teams will wrap up the tournament with four games on Sunday.

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