By Matt Sugam
NEW YORK – Mike Rice spent most of last season trying to figure out the conundrum that was Dane Miller. Why was the best player on his team so inconsistent? One night Miller was the best player on the court that would take over a game. The next he was a nonfactor.
Rice pocked and prodded Miller in every which way to get the answer, pushing every button to no avail.
Now it appears that Miller has found the solution.
“I lacked a lot of confidence,” Miller said at Big East media day at the New York Athletic Club in New York City. “In some games I would second-guess myself shooting the ball or me having the capability of being able to take anyone off the dribble – I was second guessing myself on that. My strengths – I second-guessed it.”
That deflated confidence stemmed from him losing his joy for the game.
“My last two years I wasn’t having fun,” Miller said, adding, “I really lacked that enjoyment. And right now I think I got it back.”
In turn, Rice has seen a different player. The consistency that fluctuated on a daily basis isn’t anymore.
“I’ve seen a more consistent Dane Miller. That’s all I’ve seen in Dane Miller,” Rice said. “He’s more consistent. Conditioning, strength, with school work – he’s more consistent with everything. And if Dane is consistent, he’ll have a successful year.”
And so will Rutgers.
After being one of the best freshman in the Big East three seasons ago, Miller’s only showed flashes the last two years. Now his mindset is the same it was when he played college basketball for the first two years.
“I haven’t been this hungry probably since my freshman year,” Miller said. “My last two years I was hungry, but I took a step back because I think I was lacking confidence in my own game. I think now I got that confidence back. That edge back.”
But Miller knows his words alone don’t mean anything. He has to go prove it on the court. And for Miller, that can’t come soon enough.
“The offseason I had, I just can’t wait to play to show how much stronger I am, how much faster I am, how much more explosive I am,” Miller said. “So I just can’t wait to play.”