Several others lose their jobs too
Whenever a head coach is fired, no matter what the sport, what is often ignored or overlooked is how the sudden change impacts the remaining members of the coaching staff, who many times are not retained by the new coach.
“When everything went down at Minnesota and we all got let go, I was really concerned about him more than anything because he moved here from a good job at Ohio [University],” said former Minnesota associate WBB coach Shimmy Gray-Miller of Marwan Miller (no relation). He was hired by former coach Lindsay Whalen but was on staff only a year until she was terminated last March.
“I’ve known him for years,” continued Gray-Miller, now a BTN broadcast analyst, on her former colleague. “He was an AAU coach and I was the head coach at St. Louis University. I recruited a couple of his players.
“You don’t meet a lot of great people in this profession, especially on the AAU side, [because] a lot of AAU coaches have an agenda. His agenda was doing what was best for his players. So, when he started coaching in college, him and I stayed in touch.”
Based on her recommendation when an opening occurred on the Gopher staff, Whalen met with Miller: “I told Lindsey about him and she was very intrigued with his personality and his skill set. I’ve never met anyone who had anything negative to say about him. The players love him.”
That love was returned by the Minnesota players who he coached only a year when Michigan State visited the Gophers January 13—Miller is on first-year Coach Robyn Fralick’s staff.
“Being on the visitor’s side is different. Got me a couple times doing pregame,” said Miller after the game, which the home team won by 19 points. “The [U] players were happy to see me. Had a lot of hugs and a lot of kids running up and screaming and things like that. I loved every moment.”
But the sting of losing one’s job doesn’t automatically go away: Gray-Miller is now in broadcasting after over two decades of coaching, and said she probably won’t go back. “People don’t think about [how] when you fired the head coach, anywhere from six to 10 people that work for them [also] get fired.
“I was lucky to know a few people,” continued Miller, who has nearly a decade of coaching at the college, high school, and AAU levels. “It’s not easy at all to uproot your family. Moving to Minnesota was the first time that my wife and I had ever left the state of Ohio together.
“It was a great experience… Then the rug gets pulled underneath us, and now we’re trying to figure it out.
“What happened when Coach Robyn got the job at Michigan State and she was looking for someone that could help her with recruiting?” continued the first-year State assistant coach. “We had some previous knowledge of each other from playing in the MAC together. We recruited against each other a lot.
“I don’t think anyone was happier than me when he called me to tell me that he got hired,” Gray-Miller pointed out. “Just so happy that he ended up in a really, really good spot.”
Finally, Miller couldn’t help but smile at his former players. “Last year was that learning curve for those kids, They took a lot of lumps and bumps and it’s showing that they learned from it this year.”