Editor’s note: Tim Miles was named the new Rams men’s basketball coach three weeks ago. The former North Dakota State University coach sat down Thursday afternoon with men’s basketball beat reporter Sean Star to discuss to possibility of players leaving the program, Jason Smith’s decision to declare eligible for the NBA Draft and the difficulty of replacing Dale Layer among other topics.
Collegian: It’s been three weeks since you were named the new head coach of CSU men’s basketball, have you gotten the chance to settled down yet?
Tim Miles: Not yet. I’m actually still living in a hotel. I still have to wait for the wife and kids to get here, because let’s face it: my wife’s going to be the one picking out the new house.
C: So does Fort Collins really seem like “The Best Place to Live”, as named by Money Magazine last August?
TM: It seems like a great place to live, that’s for sure. Although the weather has been a little chillier than I wanted it to be and it seems to be getting worse.
C: You completed your staff by naming Mark Amaral, Niko Medved and DeMarlo Slocum as your assistant coaches. Tell me about that process.
TM: The first thing I did after being here a couple days, after meeting the players and doing the press conference, was concentrating on hiring a staff. I ended up interviewing 15 guys and hiring four. We’re in good hands with these guys.
C: How have the players adjusted to your new coaching style?
TM: We’re going to run our program and it’s going to have a different identity than the previous coaches. And that’s just the way we do it. It’s not better and it’s not worse. But everywhere we’ve done it, we’ve had great success and so I have a great deal of confidence in what we’re doing. I think the players enjoy it. I think they like the hard work and the interaction.
C: Have any players seem dissatisfied with your program thus far?
TM: There’s going to be some guys (that are going to leave). I think (CSU) is going to make an official announcement in the next week to ten days and we’re just trying to figure all that out right now. And I support them.
C: What is it like coaching players that came to CSU to play for Dale Layer?
TM: The hard part is, that, just being the new guy. But those guys that (like the change) will be the ones that flourish.
C: Your former team, the NDSU Bison, nearly defeated your current team, the CSU Rams, this past season here in Fort Collins. What are your memories from that game?
TM: First of all, I was very impressed with CSU and I really liked Moby Arena. I know it’s a smaller arena in the Mountain West but that’s what I like about it. The people, I thought, we’re always very friendly and nice and supportive. I liked the fans, but we need more of them.
C: CSU is scheduled to play the Bison again next season in Fargo. What are your thoughts about facing your former team?
TM: There’s no question it will be a hotly contested affair. I believe NDSU is 25-2 in the last two years in Division I at home. It’s going to be one of the more difficult road games for us to win. But let’s face it, if we want to prepare for the MWC, we have to go into environments like that. The worst thing that could happen is that we lose the game.
C: How much will emotions play a factor in that match-up?
TM: I want to win. Those guys are going to want to beat us, trust me. Don’t think for one second that we’re not going in there trying to prove that we’re the better team.
C: Your teams have pulled off a pair of impressive upsets against nationally ranked opponents in the past two seasons. When will the Rams pull of one of those upsets?
TM: Soon. As soon as we can get our hands on somebody.
C: For those who have never met you, explain your humorous personality.
TM: I feel like, if you’re going to be in our program, you should have a healthy sense of humor. I don’t mind it when people poke fun at me and I may poke back, most likely. We want an environment that is enjoyable. That’s the way I grew up in my family and it’s the environment that I’ve always flourished in.
C: How has the team taken to this sense of humor?
TM: Sometimes I have to say to them that I’m just joking. It’s OK to just lighten up.
C: When will the Rams be playing in the NCAA tournament?
TM: I wish I had a crystal ball and I wish I could tell you. But that’s the nature of college basketball. you just never know how a team is going to perform down the stretch. I know if it were my choice, we’d be there as soon as possible.
C: What are your thoughts about Jason Smith’s decision to declare eligible for the NBA Draft?
TM: I support Jason 100 percent. I think it’s very good for him. I think he’s doing it the right way. I think if he chooses to come back, it can be very good for him. But if he’s going to be a top-20 pick in the NBA Draft, then I support that. If he’s going to be a second-round pick or late first-round, then that is going to be a difficult environment for him.
C: How much will your opinion influence his decision?
TM: I would say probably that he is going to trust himself and his family before (me). I haven’t built much equity with him, but hopefully we can build trust over time.