Knowing the Newcomers 2012: Joey Miller
July 13, 2012
UICFlames.com: You are in a unique situation in that you'll be able to play immediately after transferring from another Division I university. How excited were you when finding out that you would be able to contribute at UIC right away?
Joey Miller: My family and I were very excited. We were happy to hear from the NCAA that they had decided to grant us our waiver. I'm blessed to be able to play for this team right away.
UICFlames.com: Another unique tidbit is that in your first game at UIC, when the Flames host UC Riverside, you'll be playing against your dad, Mike, who is an assistant coach with the Highlanders. What do you think that will be like?
Joey Miller: It will definitely be a little different - I've never played against him before. I also know the head coach at UC Riverside (Jim Wooldridge) pretty well, because he was around when I was growing up. My dad and he coached together at both Texas State and Kansas State, so coach Wooldridge goes way back with our family.
UICFlames.com: Describe growing up as a coach's son. When did you start playing basketball?
Joey Miller: Being a coach's son was sometimes easy, and sometimes hard. People tend to think that you receive preferential treatment when you are the son of the coach, but that definitely wasn't the case with me. What was great was that I was able to work out when I wanted, and was able to be around the game when I was growing up. I really learned a lot by watching practices as a kid, learning what to do, and what not to do. I remember starting to play when I was really young - my brother is older than me, and was always shooting outside with my dad. That always made me want to shoot with them.
UICFlames.com: Did your older brother play college basketball as well?
Joey Miller: No, he played baseball at Eastern Illinois. Right now he's playing for the Traverse City Beach Bums, an independent Minor League (Frontier League) team in Michigan. He's a pitcher.
UICFlames.com: What made you choose UIC when exploring your options upon deciding to transfer?
Joey Miller: A couple of schools called right after I made my decision not to return to Eastern, but the main thing I did was sit down with my dad, and take a look at leagues that we thought fit the way I played. We really respected both the Horizon League and the Missouri Valley Conference, and thought I would fit in well with a number of schools in those leagues. When I came on my unofficial visit to UIC, I loved everything about it, and decided not to wait. I committed right away.
UICFlames.com: UIC was able to post a 67-63 win over Eastern Illinois on BracketBuster Saturday last year. You scored 10 points in that game. What else do you remember about that contest and the way that UIC played?
Joey Miller: UIC really started off that game hot, and we got off to a slow start. I liked the way they played, and Danny (Barnes) obviously made a big shot at the end to win the game.
UICFlames.com: Who were some of your basketball idols growing up? If anyone, who did you model your game after?
Joey Miller: I didn't really model my game after any particular player. I just enjoy watching players and picking up some of the little things to incorporate into the way I play. I always liked to watch J.J. Redick when he was at Duke, because he is such a great shooter. My mom was a huge Maverick fan when Steve Nash was there, so he was always a popular player in our household.
UICFlames.com: From playing in a handful of pick-up games with all of your teammates and working out with the guys, what do you feel will be one of the main strengths of this team when the season tips off in November?
Joey Miller: We've got some pretty big guys on this team; we're a much bigger team that what I'm used to playing with. I think that's going to help us defensively, our big guys are pretty active on defense. I also think we've got some good basketball IQ on this roster, and I think if we run our system well, it's going to be difficult for other teams to defend.
UICFlames.com: You started 24 games for Eastern Illinois last year, scored in double figures 15 times, and some of your standout games were against the top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, like Murray State and Morehead State. How much do you think that having one year of Division I experience under your belt is going to help during your first year at UIC and playing in the Horizon League?
Joey Miller: It's already helping. When I went home last week to visit my family, I talked to my dad about how last year is already helping me - I picked up on a lot of things that is helping me getting adjusted to this team during open gym. I was lucky to be able to play a lot of minutes last year, and that experience is really going to help me this year. The Ohio Valley is a guard-driven league; you had guards playing the "four" sometimes. I was able to gain experience playing a variety of positions, and also defended more than one position.
UICFlames.com: How would you describe your game to fans that weren't able to see you play last year? Do do you feel that playing off the ball is your natural position, or are you more comfortable running the point?
Joey Miller: I played the point sometimes, I played the "two," and when we went little, I played the "three." But most of the teams in the Ohio Valley played that way, with several guards on the floor. It really depended who else was in the game as to how I was used. A lot of times in the second half, we would run a one-side action, and I was usually the one with the ball, trying to run a pick-and-roll and get us into our offense. But I also played a lot off the ball. I was able to learn a lot from every position I was put in last year. No one has ever sat me down to tell say, "you're a point guard, look for your teammates," or "you need to be more aggressive shooting the ball." It's tough for me to say what my natural position is - I like to let the game come to me.
UICFlames.com: How have you adjusted to living in the city of Chicago the past month or so? How often had you visited the city prior to transferring to UIC?
Joey Miller: I had been to Chicago a few times before deciding to transfer to UIC, but I had never been to the campus. I came here for my unofficial visit, when I ended up committing, and then visited a couple more times before moving here for summer classes. It has taken me a little while to get used to the surroundings and the street names; I'm still not familiar with all of the streets around campus. Where I've lived before, you haven't had to be real concerned with street names. Here it's a little different. I'm continually becoming more used to both the bus and train systems, so I'm learning and enjoying it.