Connecticut Sun head coach, Curt Miller, has an impeccable reputation across the league for being one of – if not the – most detail-oriented and organized coaches in the WNBA.
If he could, he’d live in a gym.
In fact, based on his grueling daily schedule and routine, living in a gym would probably make his life easier.
During the season, a typical day for Miller includes waking up early (like, 5 a.m. early), looking at film, scouting other players and teams, creating a practice plan, meeting with his assistant coaches, running practice, meeting with his staff again, looking at more film and providing his players with every possible piece of information to put them in the best situation to succeed.
Somewhere in between all of that, he eats and sleeps.
Thus, when the schedule is released each year, Miller is finally able to plot out practice time for the entire season – something that is much easier said than done in the WNBA, especially now.
“The first thing I noticed when I saw the 2018 WNBA schedule is how condensed it was because of the World Championship in September,” Curt Miller said. “Along with that, the amount of time we have to prepare and practice both before and during the season is considerably shorter.”
Miller is right.
Cumulatively, the 2018 season is just under a month shorter than the 2017 season. That means each team has, roughly, 30 fewer days to play their 34 regular season games (and we’re not even talking about the playoffs).
Playing the 34 games in a shorter calendar period isn’t necessarily the concern; it’s the amount of practice time.
“For us, practice is everything,” Miller added. “With such a young team, every second of preparation is important. There is no, ‘We’ll put that in tomorrow.’ There’s just not enough time, especially on the road. For example, we play 13 of 16 games away from home in June and early July. With travel, it’s really difficult to have scheduled three-hour practices to implement new systems or work on things we need to improve. We get creative, though. We meet in the hotel, on the plane, at dinner … anywhere.
“Time is a valued commodity in the WNBA.”
That is to say, the exhaustive preparation work from Miller and his staff (assistant coach, Steve Smith, video coordinator, Chris Koclanes, and a soon-to-be-named assistant coach) will be even more vital this season.
Before every game, the staff provides each player with a custom individual and team scouting report directly to their phone/tablet for convenience.
“Each report is unique to the player,” Miller added. “We have a remarkable staff that is committed to ensuring each player has the tools to succeed. The reports we send to players includes individual and team strengths and weaknesses, player tendencies, trends, plays to watch for … anything we feel will help them prepare for each game.”
Miller will be the first to tell you the work he and his staff put into scouting opponents doesn’t amount to much if the players aren’t responsive and work equally as hard.
“What they do is super helpful for us as players,” Alyssa Thomas has said of the scouting reports prepared by Miller and his staff. “I know each game we play that we are going to be as prepared as we possibly can be as a team. There’s definitely an added confidence we have because of it.”
Ultimately, regardless of how much practice time the Sun has, expectations are high following an impressive 2017.
“We want to take the next step this season,” Miller said with confidence. “We’re doing everything we can to continue the momentum we built last year.
“I’m excited to dive in.”