By Jason Schott - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19
Reggie Miller will be calling the NCAA Tournament for CBS and Turner Sports. Throughout the season, he can be heard calling games for the NBA on TNT. Recently, he was at a media event detailing the March Madness broadcast coverage, and he discussed college basketball and NBA issues.
When asked when he starts intensely preparing to cover the Tournament, Reggie said, "All year! If you're a true hoops junkie, it doesn't matter if it's high school, collegiate, or the NBA, you're watching basketball, which I do. So, if there's a game on TV, whether it's college, even a high school all-star game, you want to see where these kids go to school potentially, you're going to watch it. So it really starts in November, just looking at teams and you kind of ramp up your study materials more come conference play in January, start looking at more match-ups and things like that because it means more in conference play. If you're a true hoops junkie, you're watching basketball year-round at all levels."
Miller's battles with the New York Knicks are legendary, but one of his most memorable games came against the other New York area team. In the deciding Game 5 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets, Miller tied the game on a three-pointer at the end of regulation and a leaping dunk at the end of overtime. The Nets won in double overtime, but Miller's heroics are the lasting memory of that night.
|Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd|
On how Jason Kidd has done in his first year coaching the Brooklyn Nets, Miller said, "He got off to a slow start, and I think the problems he had with Lawrence Frank and them working that out kind of caused it a little bit, but he has the respect...Any time you have Hall of Famers like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and guys like that on your team to help in the locker room and all you have to deal with is Xs and Os, it means a lot, especially as a first-time coach that's never done it."
"So, they got through the bumpy and the rough patch, now I think they're starting to play their best basketball. They're getting healthy. This team won't go anywhere unless Deron Williams plays at a high level, like his Utah days - he has to play at that level. The loss of Brook was huge, we'll see how they do going forward with that. They have a shot, there's no back-to-backs in the playoffs, which is good for the second oldest team in the league. Joe Johnson is a big-time player in crunch. To me, it will depend on who they play. They can't finish seventh or eighth, they have no shot against Miami or Indiana, but anybody else, I'll take my gamble with Chicago, Toronto, Washington,. If I'm Brooklyn, I'm not scared of those teams."
Miller is close with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who nearly got him to join the Boston Celtics in 2007-08, and Reggie said of that, "Almost...."
On how he prepares to cover the Tournament, Miller said, "It will be even more challenging because I'm starting out in Dayton for the First Four on Wednesday, then we go to Friday, Sunday, so really 12 teams to prepare for in such a short amount of time. Try to read as much as possible, you call as many of the SIDs (sports information directors), the good thing about is mostly everyone's game in the digital age we live in has been on TV and you can go back and watch film and tape and formulate your stories, look at common opponents."
"You just let the game tell the story itself, just try to read as much as possible, which I have no problem doing, and watch as much film as possible to try to formulate a game plan of how a team plays, what style they play, who they're going against and how does that mesh with who they're playing. You just try to tell the stories of the kids, look at the personal information, are there any cross matches, guys that know one another on teams that will play each other and go from there," said Miller.
|Reggie with UCLA|
"What's different in today's age from 25, 30 years ago when I was in the tournament, there wasn't the one-and-done, and you had more powerhouse teams. You knew it was St. John's, Georgetown, UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, Villanova, Pitt, DePaul, those were your major teams. Florida Gulf Coast, you didn't have to worry about them because you had Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, you had Syracuse, The Pearl and Rony Seikaly, and Derrick Coleman. You had all these guys staying their junior and senior years. The best of Florida Gulf Coast going against those Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, and John Thompson teams, it wouldn't have even been close. So you really didn't need the scouting then because of all these powerhouse teams."
On Stephen Curry, who plays for Miller's former teammate Mark Jackson in Golden State, Miller said, "Number one, he's having an unbelievable year. I think what gets lost in translation and underrated in his game is his ability, because everyone talks about his shooting, he's the best shooter in the game today. What gets lost in translation and overrides and overshadows his shooting is his passing ability. I don't like the turnovers, he still turns the ball over too much, but his ability to see the floor I think gets lost. He's just as good a passer as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, those guys usually at the leaderboards of assists, you know, Steph is right up there. I think when it's all said and done, he could be knocking on the door of Ray Allen. That's saying a lot because Ray's getting ready to go over 3,000 made threes...Three thousand made threes, I thought 2,500 was a lot! 3,000 made threes, I mean, number one, you got to stay healthy, Steph was injured early in his career with ankle injuries, so he has a lot of missed time. If he hadn't been injured, I would say potentially he has a shot at that. He has to stay healthy for such a long time in order to catch Ray, but still today's best shooter."
Is Reggie amazed at how Ray Allen is still going strong at 38 years old? "Yes. It lets you know that shooting is a lost art, and if you can shoot, you will always have a job in the NBA. You can go to all the pick-and-rolls and everything you want to talk about and the inside play, but if you can make a wide open 15- to 23-footer on a consistent basis, you will always get a paycheck on the 1st and 15th of every month. He prepares himself a lot like I did, showing up early, putting up shots before and after practice, before games, so it's no secret why he's had this longevity."
Miller hit on something in his comments on Allen and I recounted how, during a recent Nets game, a player missed a shot when there was nobody within 15 feet on him. It seems like players need someone on them to hit a shot. Miller said of that, "Again, it being a lost art, most shooters do like to have people close to them because it's more of a reactionary thing, as opposed to, if you're all wide open, people like you expect them to make it, so it adds some pressure. It's all about time in the gym and so forth."
|Miller and Mark Jackson with Indiana|
On his former Indiana teammate Mark Jackson and the job he has done in Golden State, Miller said, "Wonderful job, but I'm not surprised. When you have 12 guys, really 14 if you count guys that are on the injured list, he has changed the culture of the Warriors. You guys know, the Warriors for so many years, back to the Nellie (Don Nelson) days, was all about Run TMC, run and gun, no defense, we're going to try to outscore you and he's changed the culture there."
"You want to be successful, make deep playoff runs, you've got to be able to play defense, and the Warriors are one of the better defensive teams, not only in the Western Conference but in the league, and on top of that, they've got firepower, obviously, with Steph, David Lee, and Klay Thompson. They hang their hat at the defensive end, and a lot of that has to be credited to Mark Jackson. Think about all the Hall of Fame coaches that have preached that to him, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Louie Carnesecca, so he understands the importance of winning and the importance of getting it done at the defensive end."