Senior Darius Miller wants to pilot Kentucky starship

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Senior Darius Miller wants to pilot Kentucky starship

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:17 pm

Senior Darius Miller wants to pilot Kentucky starship

Kentucky's Darius Miller is going to be surrounded by another cast of one-and-dones, but this time, if he has some room with the ball, he is going to hunt his points and make his plays.

This isn't going to be like 2009-10, when he submerged his ego — just stuffed it in his back pocket — and watched John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe play with the ball.

"I'm going to play my game, be aggressive," Miller said.

You know what he is going to hear, right?

"Miller is trying to shoot his way on to the NBA draft board."

Miller, a 6-8 senior, will not be bothered by that talk or the talk that he will eventually become a bench player, a role guy behind a starting five that will include returnees Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones and freshman sensations Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.

"I got to stay away from trying to get my points. At the same time, I have to play my game and play aggressive, and I can't defer to others," Miller said. "I can't focus on trying to be drafted; I have to focus on a team game and winning a national championship."

Miller said his goal was to string together offensive bursts, not score a bucket and disappear as in previous seasons. He understands UK has talent and he is part of a team, but the heck with this business of being a subservient player.

Asked whether he wanted to make this his team, Miller didn't even hesitate. "Definitely," he said. "I'm the senior."

Miller is a proud player, but what's really going to happen when 6-11 Davis starts to demand the ball in the post?

The Chicago phenom is already being labeled as a heralded NBA 1/1, first pick, first round. Kidd-Gilchrist, a 6-7 forward, is athletic. Then there is Lamb, a 6-4 sophomore who averaged 12.3 points as a freshman, and Jones, a 6-9 sophomore who averaged 15.7.

Miller is already being discounted. He averaged 10.9 points as a junior, but where he does he fit in with this crew?

Two seasons ago, when Kentucky finished 35-3 with first-round picks Wall and Cousins, Miller averaged 6.5 points as a sophomore. He didn't know where he fit.

"At first, it was kind of hard for me how to figure out how to play with this much talent on the team," Miller said of the 2009-10 season. "I didn't know if I should be more laid back and let them do what they do or if at times I should play my game.

"I did a much better job the second half of last season, just playing ball the way I know how to play. I'm going to have to play more aggressive this year and try and put those strings together more consistently."

Davis and Jones should be the focal points of the offense, along with Lamb. Miller insists he is not going to be an afterthought.

"It really doesn't affect me," Miller said of suggestions he has to make way for the freshmen. "They have been saying that about me for the last two years. I don't have too much to say about it. I figure, if I can play with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and the rest of them, I feel like I can play with anybody."

One of the issues with a lineup overhaul is chemistry. When Wall, Cousins and Bledsoe entered the mix in 2009-10, there were issues at first of who got what shots and how many. Those November-December issues were cleared away, and UK won 35 of 38 games. The Wildcats had a bad game at the wrong time — the NCAA tournament — and fell short of a national title.

"When they first got here, we had trouble being a team," Miller said of the 2009-10 team. "There was a jealously among teammates. That kind of tore us apart at first. I think this team has done a really good job of sticking together. We have some leadership in returning guys."

Miller's versatility — he can play shooting guard, small forward or power forward — will be an asset to coach John Calipari, who usually prefers a regular rotation of seven or eight players. Davis and Jones will be the team's best rebounders, but Miller could step in at power forward in the event of foul trouble.

Kidd-Gilchrist and Lamb look like capable swingmen, but Miller can step out, too. He made 44% of his three-point shots last season.

Kentucky might have the best collection of talent in the country and be a title contender throughout the season with North Carolina and Ohio State. Many people might not see Miller as indispensable to that expected run, but he has plenty to offer besides skill.

He has seen the one-and-done team come unraveled in a close tournament game. Miller is not going to stand by and watch it happen this season just because the spotlights are being wheeled toward the freshmen.

"I'm the leader," said Miller, who is from Maysville, Ky., and is that rare home-state starter in a program that depends on national talent these days. "I've been through the ups and downs of Kentucky basketball. My freshman year we went to the NIT. Last year we went to the Final Four. I've seen it all, and I'm ready to take on the leadership.

"Coach Cal has talked to me about it. I believe him when he says he wants me to be a leader."

Posts : 2457
Join date : 2010-01-06
Age : 47
Location : Elizabethtown,Ky
Favorite College team: : Kentucky Wildcats
Favorite NFL team: : New England Patriots

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