Tim Miles finds success wherever he goes. The 47-year-old Nebraska head coach basically turns around basketball programs for a living.
In his first six years as a head coach, when Miles coached Mayville State of the NAIA and D-II Southwest Minnesota State, he had a 113-61 record and eventually got Southwest Minnesota State to the D-II elite eight. Miles then helped transition North Dakota State from Division II into Division I. While at NDSU, Miles landed huge upsets over Wisconsin and Marquette and was named the 2006 Division I Independent Coach of the Year by CBS Sportsline.
Miles final rebuilding job before coming to Nebraska was at Colorado State. In 2007-08, Miles' first season with the Rams, CSU went 7-25 and didn't win a conference game. In 2011-12, the Rams went 20-12 and made it to the NCAA tournament. The rebuild at Nebraska is already a success. This season Miles took the Cornhuskers to their first NCAA tournament since 1998 and a fourth place finish in the Big Ten.
The Nebraska job isn't an easy one. Firstly, you're in Nebraska. It's not a basketball hotbed nor is it easy to attract recruits there. With zero NCAA tournament wins, there isn't much basketball history in Lincoln either. Nebraska does have several things going for the basketball program. Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Cornhuskers' immaculate new home court, just opened in 2013, and with the decline of the Big 12, the move to the Big Ten comes at the right time.
The Cornhuskers only lose one key contributor, in Ray Gallegos, going into 2014-15. There's no reason they shouldn't be able to get another tourney bid. The question is can they keep that up and perhaps become a competitor in the big dance. So far, Miles hasn't brought in many high-caliber recruits. He added a bunch of 3-stars in 2013 and brings in one 2-star and one 3-star in the class of 2014. The recruiting is going to have to improve for Nebraska to make the dance consistently.
Luckily for Miles, his top three scorers from last season, Terran Petteway, Shavon Shields and Walter Pitchford, are all sophomores. If they don't make the move to the NBA, Miles has at least two seasons to really compete in the B1G and try to make a run in the NCAA tourney. These next couple seasons could determine the future of Nebraska basketball. If they succeed, some recruits will come. They will see the opportunity to play in a flashy new stadium on a competitive team in the country's strongest conference.
All that said, 2014 to 2016 should be Nebraska's best years for a long time. They are going to have some developed talent working in a system that looks like a well-oiled machine. The Cornhuskers have the chance to make a run at a B1G title and go deep in the NCAA tourney, but after Petteway's class departs, they should return to the middle of the pack. Sustaining a top-end Big Ten basketball team is extremely difficult, even for powerhouses like Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State, and that's who Miles will be recruiting against.
Tim Miles will make Nebraska into a contender in the Big Team, a team you won't want to play on the road and a team that will pull some upsets. The Cornhusker will be an average Big Ten team for years to come, but Nebraska simply cannot be a basketball powerhouse. Tim Miles will reach his full potential at Nebraska in 2016 with a sweet 16 run and after that it's back to the middle of the pack.