Terps lose sixth man

Forward Miller decides to leave for Notre Dame

College Basketball

April 20, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Junior forward Danny Miller, who helped Maryland reach its first men's basketball Final Four in school history this year with some key contributions in a backup role, is transferring to Notre Dame.

Miller announced his intentions to leave Maryland in a meeting yesterday with Terps coach Gary Williams.

"We wish Danny the best of luck in the future. He played an integral part of three very good basketball teams at the University of Maryland. We wish him well," Williams said in a statement released by the school.

Miller, 6 feet 8, 220 pounds, was believed to be in South Bend, Ind., last night and could not be reached for comment.

Under NCAA transfer regulations, Miller must sit out the 2001-02 season before using his final year of collegiate eligibility.

Miller, a native of Mount Holly, N.J., and the only member of the Terps who was a McDonald's High School All-American, starting all 34 games as a sophomore, then lost his spot when junior Byron Mouton, a transfer from Tulane, replaced him in the starting lineup five games into last season. At that point, Maryland was 1-3 and Miller was struggling.

Mouton started for the rest of the season, which the Terps concluded with a 25-11 record and a loss to Duke in the NCAA tournament semifinals.

Miller averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds and led the Terps' reserves with an average of 18.8 minutes of playing time. Mouton averaged 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 22.7 minutes. Miller actually logged more postseason minutes than Mouton.

Mouton said he was shocked to hear about Miller's imminent departure from College Park. Mouton figured Miller was angling for a starting position with the Fighting Irish in two years.

"I guess Danny is looking for major minutes, with him not getting the minutes this year that he got as a sophomore. I think he wants to be a starter in his senior year," Mouton said. "I had no idea [Miller was transferring]," added Mouton, who said he worked out with Miller on Tuesday. "Everybody was getting along, having fun, coming off the Final Four. I didn't expect anything like this."

Miller, who played in 104 games at Maryland and was part of 78 victories over that stretch while averaging 5.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in three seasons, has a connection to Notre Dame in the form of Irish coach Mike Brey.

Before taking the Notre Dame job last year and replacing Matt Doherty when he left for North Carolina, Brey had coached Miller's older brother, Greg, at Delaware. Miller's parents are said to be friends of Brey's.

Miller was named the Terps' Sixth Man of the Year at the team's recent postseason awards banquet. During Maryland's Final Four season, he offset his shooting problems -- Miller shot only 43.2 percent from the field, 27.7 percent from three-point range and 55.6 percent at the free-throw line -- with his versatility.

He was one of the team's better defenders and ballhandlers, and Miller occasionally moved to guard. He also had some great games down the stretch. He scored seven points to help the Terps knock off Duke on Feb. 27 in Durham, then had 14 points and six assists in a rout over Virginia four days later. In the NCAA tournament, Miller's 10-point, seven-rebound effort helped the Terps beat Georgia State and reach the Sweet 16.

"To me, he was like a sixth starter," Mouton said. "We guarded each other every day in practice. The things Danny did for us, you can't always look at the stat sheet and see. A lot of teams don't have a big, tough player like that coming off the bench. I think this will hurt us."

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