By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – At least once every home game, during a moment when the crowd grows quiet, a voice bellows from the mezzanine section with a message that’s sent by one, but felt by many as it echoes through the arena.
“SHOOT THE BALL DANE,” the fan screeches.
Dane Miller hears it. From the guy sitting in the 100 level seats and beyond.
“I hear everybody say it,” Miller told SNY.tv. “It is what it is.”
Miller – who’s oozing with natural talent and the ability to take over a game on a nightly basis – isn’t a pure scorer. He has the skills to be one, but that’s not his game.
As Rutgers’ best passer and a dynamic athlete which is displayed by his steals and blocks as much as his dunks, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound wing showcases an overall game rather than that of a pure scorer.
“I was always told in high school and AAU that versatile players get more attention and help a team more than a player of one dimension that can only do one thing,” Miller said. ”So I’m happy with what I’m doing.”
Right now, that includes coming off the bench.
After 44-straight starts, Miller came off the bench against Louisville, and has continued to do so in the two games since.
“I’m not worried about it,” Miller said. “Whatever is thrown my way, I feel like I can handle it. I was never mad about it. I’m a laid back person. Nothing really bothers me.”
Whether it be good or bad.
Despite his not having much of an affinity for scoring – which is displayed by the fact that he’s averaging just 5.5 shots per game this season – Miller hit a major milestone in Rutgers’ win over Seton Hall.
The senior reached the 1,000 point plateau, becoming just the 39th player in school history to do so. Something he – not surprisingly – wasn’t even aware of at the time.
The feat was only brought to Miller’s attention when of the official stat keeper acknowledged the accomplishment. Even then, it took Miller a few seconds to realize what he was being lauded for.
Two days later, the achievement still isn’t something Miller has thought much about or cares much about. Typical of his demeanor.
“That’s just how I am. Nothing really excites me really as far as stuff like that,” Miller said. “I’m happy I got it, but it’s a team sport. I couldn’t have got it if I didn’t play with guys like Mike Rosario, Hamady [N’Diaye], J-Mitch [Jonathan Mitchell], guys like that. I couldn’t have got it if I didn’t play with these guys [on the team now], so it’s more so a team thing than an individual achievement.”
And Miller would rather help this team attain its overall goal than shoot the ball more.
With six games left in the regular season, starting with a game at DePaul on Saturday, Rutgers needs to go 4-2 down the stretch to all but lock up an NIT bid. An achievement that would be the school’s first post-season appearance since 2006.
Which is why one stat means more than any other to Miller.
“Winning does,” Miller said when asked if any stat matters to him. “Winning holds a higher standard. I just try and do everything to my best ability – hustle plays, now I’m coming off the bench I try to come off the bench with enough energy. I’m not really worried about anything else…Right now I got a bigger objective in front of me with this team trying to make a run.”