The Basketball Podcast: EP313 with Curt Miller on WNBA Coaching

RELEASE DATE : 27/03/2024

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, LA Sparks head coach Curt Miller joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on WNBA coaching, mastering the monotony, and point of attack concepts.

Los Angeles Sparks Head Coach Curt Miller made history on August 6th against the Washington Mystics winning his 150th WNBA game as a head coach. His latest career milestone places him in elite company. Miller, Lin Dunn and Van Chancellor now stand alone as the only head coaches to have won at least 275 collegiate games and 150 WNBA games. Miller is the fifth fastest to 150 WNBA wins.

Before coaching the Sparks, Miller served as the Head Coach of the Connecticut Sun where he was named the WNBA Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2021. Miller led the Sun to two WNBA Finals appearances in 2019 and 2022 and six playoff appearances in seven seasons. Miller also coached at Bowling Green State University (2001-12) and Indiana University (2012-14). In his tenure as a college coach, he won over 290 collegiate games.

Listen Here:

Curt Miller Quotes:

“The difference going from the collegiate level to the pro level is our cadence of games is really difficult at the pro level . .  we’ll play nine games in 18 days in seven different cities . . it’s difficult to practice and you have to manage rest and recovery.”

“We watch film every day, and it’s part of a specific plan because we know we can’t always have the duration or intensity of practices [on the court] to learn that way . . I’m unapologetic to our franchise, to our players, to my staff, that we are going to do a bunch of film work.”

“We didn’t have some of the firepower . . of some of the teams we played. So, we talked about making it messy. We tried to talk about how physical we could be, how much we could disrupt and dictate with our defense, which would create some easier offense . . Dictate with disruption was a really important philosophy.”

“It is hugely important that you have an environment where the players feel empowered to speak and not be afraid to give counter-suggestions. It can lead to some uncomfortable conversations and we have to agree to disagree, ‘No, this is the way we’re going to do it.’ Or there are times where the players are absolutely right and we’re going to go with what they feel.”

“The players that have played longer for me and have played more years for me have equity in the bank. Those players naturally have a little bit longer rope to play through mistakes. Rookies don’t have that long of a rope and they learn that. And at times it’s frustrating . . but the rookies will earn that equity, put trust in that bank and will eventually earn some of those opportunities to play through more mistakes.”

“We call them ‘point of attacks.’ . . It can be ball screens, it can be pin-downs, flares, different types of screening actions, but we call those points of attack and there are only so many in a 24-second shot clock.”

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career. Before I became a head coach, I had some great mentors and people that gave me a chance . . And as I tell young coaches all the time, the hardest thing is getting your foot in the door. Once you get that opportunity, if you’re humble and you’re a servant person to your players and to your coaches and you just grind like crazy, you will take care of your advancement and opportunities.”

Curt Miller Breakdown:

1:00 – Involvement with USA Basketball
5:30 – Unique Places in History
8:30 – Love of Teaching
11:00 – Scout Heavy Philosophy
13:00 – Monotony
17:00 – Collaborative Process
19:00 – Transactional Nature
21:00 – Significant Developments
26:00 – Qualitative Elements
28:00 – Ball Screen
33:00 – Switching
35:00 – Ghost Slip Set Decision
38:00 – Point of Attack
41:30 – Humility

Curt Miller Selected Links from the Podcast:

Curt Miller
Alyssa Thomas
Jasmine Thomas
Jonquel Jones
Jordin Canada
Nneka Ogwumike
Dearica Hamby
Sabrina Ionescu
Jennifer Rizzotti
Becky Hammon
Brionna Jones
Cheryl Reeve
Azura Stevens

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