Hoops happy

Brian and Terry Miller of Saukville are both basketball coaches, so it figures that ‘basketball is our life’
Ozaukee Press staff

Basketball would be a natural topic of conversation around the dinner table at the Brian and Terri Miller household in Saukville.

Brian has been the men’s coach at the Milwaukee School of Engineering the past 14 years and this year was named conference coach of the year. Terri has served as director of the Port Hoops Club and coach one of the girls’ teams the past three seasons.

Dinner, however, is the one escape from basketball discussions.

“We try to turn that off,” Brian said. “That’s the way to get away from it.”

Terri admits, “basketball is our life,” but added, “I feel like we manage it really well because family is very important to us.”

Even so, supper with the couple and their two daughters who play on Terri’s team can be few and far between during the season.

“There’s days where it’s breakfast and that’s it,” Brian said.

“He takes mornings and I take evenings hauling them around,” Terri said.

For Brian, a Port native whose family moved to Fond du Lac when he was 10, coaching has been a goal since he was a teen. While others’ role models were players, he followed Marquette legend Al McGuire. Brian started coaching in high school and worked his way up to college.

For the last four years, he has served as MSOE’s athletic director, after 10 years as associate director.

He met Terri while at an MSOE new faculty and staff event while she catered as the university’s food service director. Her 90-hour weeks eventually wore on the family, and she became the nutrition services director for the Kewaskum School District, which allows her time to coach.

Terri grew up grew up in a small town in Minnesota enjoying the competitiveness of sports and played volleyball, basketball and softball.

When she learned about Port Hoops Club, she noticed the boys’ program had been strong for years, but the girls’ was inconsistent.

She started a membership drive and got help from Port High girls’ coach Jakob Wahl and his staff.

Once people signed up, there was one more position to fill.

“‘Who wants to coach?’” Terri asked. “Nobody wanted to.”

So she agreed to take the volunteer position in addition to serving as secretary on the club’s board.

There was just one glitch. Terri had never coached before.

Fortunately, she had help.

“Having a college coach in my back pocket is helpful,” Terri said.

“The pay is bad,” Brian said with a laugh.

Brian helped develop a practice plan of skill building and how to be a teammate.

“It’s like writing a curriculum,” he said  “In the end it’s all about the development of the youth through the sport, not for the sport.”

After MSOE’s season is over, Brian comes to practices to help his wife and assistant coach Carl Scheunemann.

Despite the expertise, the team got off to a slow start. They went 1-20 in their first year as fourth-graders and 6-21 as fifth-graders.

This year, however, with one week left, the nine-member team is 21-12.

“What makes me excited is seeing the girls grow,” Terri said. “We’re growing together.”

“It’s rewarding,” Brian said, “to see their confidence grow.”

The team runs the same offense Wahl uses for the varsity team.

“We’re trying to get girls interested and keep them interested, make it fun for them, building the skills for high school,” Terri said.

After taking their lumps early, Terri and Brian realized the girls were behind in fundamentals and decided to start a third-grade skills and development program. Girls don’t play games —

Terri thinks third grade is too early to compete — but they learn basketball.

“You’ve just got to keep pounding away at it,” Brian said.

Besides providing basketball expertise, Brian provides some inspiration. The girls have attended several MSOE games and got a women’s locker room tour.

“Their eyes get so wide when they step into a college locker room,” Terri said.

Brian worried that the girls might get bored during a doubleheader women-men’s game, but they loved it.

“They ask to come to games,” Terri said.

Team building events like bowling have been held, and at sleepovers the girls’ passion is evident; Disney movies are pushed aside in favor of Milwaukee Bucks’ games.

Terri and Brian’s goal for the girls goes beyond basketball. The entire team excels in the classroom, and the pair encourage players to participate in other sports. Brian helps coach some of the same girls in softball in spring.

In winter, he works at building MSOE into a powerhouse. Before his arrival, the men’s program had one winning season. In the 15 years since the Raiders have had 12 and this year set a school record for victories with 21. MSOE tied Concordia University Wisconsin to win the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference with a 16-4 record.

Recruiting now spans the country. After only having players from Wisconsin and Illinois, Brian lures talent from Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and Charlotte.

“There are a ton of states that don’t have Division 3 colleges,” he said.

The national focus on science, technology, engineering and math curriculum has helped.

“We just chase the engineers,” he said, adding some of the recruits are lost to the University of Wisconsin-Madison or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

MSOE’s reputation — “the school is phenomenal,” Brian said — and its location in downtown Milwaukee next to the Fiserv Forum both make it an attractive choice.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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