OMAHA, N.E. (KELO) — It’s a big week for college basketball as March Madness tips off this Thursday. The Creighton University Blue Jays, ranked in the top 25, are hoping to make some noise in the NCAA tournament this year.
If they do, a South Dakota native and now assistant coach for Creighton will play a key role.
Ryan Miller is an assistant coach with Creighton University.
“Unbelievable experience, a community that loves basketball,” Miller said.
Miller, who is an older brother to former NBA player Mike Miller, is in charge of the team’s defense.
Head coach Greg McDermott says he knew Miller and his family’s basketball tradition long before he hired him.
“Yeah I coached against Ryan and Jared, I was coach at Wayne State when Ryan was playing at Northern State and Jared was at Southwest State, so I’ve known the family and of course Mike during high school and college career as well, so I’ve seen a lot of them in the past,” McDermott said.
He says Miller is highly respected in the college ranks.
He also coached at TCU, UNLV, Auburn, Pepperdine, Memphis, and New Mexico.
But his heart is in Creighton.
“Being close to home; parents, brothers-sisters still live in Sioux Falls and get to coach my nephew,” Miller said.
His nephew is Mason Miller, who is a 6’9″ redshirt freshman.
Don: What’s it like playing for your uncle?
Mason: Oh, it’s interesting for sure. At first, is a little different. You know, we like to argue a little bit. We got along and then we started getting a little closer. And it’s kind of a better bond with each other and then like I work out every single day now like after practice for workout. It’s definitely really fun having good dynamics with him.”
Ryan says he’s pretty hard on Mason.
“I will tell you we demand a lot of stuff and I make sure because he has big shoes to fill because you come here we are competing for Big East championships, NCAA championships so with that becomes, you know, some challenges and high demand for his efforts that comes with big time college athletics,” Ryan said.
This is Ryan Miller’s second year at Creighton. As far as his future goes Miller says he’s not thinking that far ahead.
“Right now all I can do is be the best assistant coach for the program, help out our players here and see what happens in the future. If it’s the head coach of the LA Lakers someday great if it’s the assistant coach and Creighton, you just got to live in the moment if you can’t, you can’t I don’t believe you can look too much past that because our profession as a sport is very volatile and once you start doing that you’re not focusing on the moment and focusing on what you can do today to help the team win.”
The Blue Jays open up their tournament schedule by taking on North Carolina State on Friday.