In this week’s coaching conversation, Grand Canyon University head coach Molly Miller joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss full-court pressure and playing uptempo.
Miller holds the highest career winning percentage (.892) of any NCAA men’s or women’s basketball coach at the Division I, II or III levels with at least five years of experience. The two-time Division II Coach of the Year ended her Drury career with the DII national runner-up in 2019 and an undefeated, top-ranked 2020 team when the national tournament was canceled because of COVID-19.
Miller made an immediate impact at GCU by guiding her Lopes to the program’s first WAC Tournament championship game appearance. She did it by instituting her style of full-court pressure defense and uptempo offense.
In 2020-21, GCU ranked second nationally for steals (13.4 per game) and turnover margin (plus-8.4 per game) while also coming in fourth for turnovers forced (23.3 per game).
Miller maintained Drury’s tradition upon becoming head coach at age 28 and she ascended the program to reach the 2019 Division II Final Four and post a 32-0 record in 2019-20, when the Panthers were ranked No. 1 every week in the Division II poll. If an undefeated mark does not state Drury’s dominance under Miller enough, the Panthers also led Division II in scoring margin for her last two seasons there. Drury won by 27.9 points per game in 2018-19 and 28.5 per game in 2019-20.
Molly Miller Quotes:
“It’s one thing I had to get when I talked about buy-in . . defensively is where we’re going to make a splash and win ball games.”
“You always have to reinforce things if you want buy-in; you can’t just talk about it and expect it to happen, there has to be some positive reinforcement.”
“I think explaining the ‘why’ is a big part of teaching and learning instead of just, ‘Let’s go out and do this drill.’ They [the players] have got to understand how it works into the grand scheme of things.”
“The last thing you need to do to complete a great defensive possession is get a rebound. But the very first thing you need to do to start a great offensive possession is the rebound . . taking some time to explain those things makes all the difference in the world.”
“We recruit to play right away, because we have to go deep into our bench . . we try to just stay fresh all the time on the defensive end.”
“I’m slow to offer [scholarships] . . because relationships are so important to me and I want it to be a good fit on both sides. I want them [players] to feel like they can come here and succeed as a student-athlete but I also want my staff and the other kids that I have a commitment to know we’re bringing in like-minded people, good character, people that are going to work hard like them and complement them and add to the culture.”
“Culture is a tough thing to get to but it’s an even harder thing to maintain.”
“What do you want to be good at? You want to hang your hat on that. I don’t I don’t want to be a jack of all trades, master of none type team, I want to master a few things and have that be our identity . . and be really, really good at it.”
“I’ve got four rules; you have to check each one of them off to be able to shoot the three. Are you open? Are you on balance? Are you in rhythm and are you in range?”
“I’m very, very fortunate that I’ve got such a supportive group at GCU and then at home to allow me to be able to be a mom and to be a coach.”
Molly Miller Breakdown:
1:00 – Buy-In
5:00 – Starting with Defense
8:00 – Building Up Drills
12:00 – Getting the Ball Over Halfway
14:00 – Full Court Pressure Preference
17:00 – Run Jump
20:00 – Randomness
21:00 – Using Different Terminologies
24:00 – The Tagging Concept
26:00 – Attacking the Weak Side
29:00 – Tools for Better Switching
32:00 – Managing Substitution
35:00 – Analytics
37:00 – Unorthodox Approach in Recruiting
39:00 – Defense is the Priority
42:00 – Unstructured Offensive Possessions
47:00 – Scouting Reports
50:00 – Inbound Set Plays
54:00 – Conclusion
Molly Miller Links from the Podcast:
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