KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Oregon Tech head coach Danny Miles is one of two men’s basketball coaches to reach 1,000 career wins. What’s the formula for building 1,000 wins? For Miles, it started with a very modest beginning.
“That year I remember we went 0-9 in football as an assistant,” he said, “1-21 in basketball and 3-21 in baseball. The next year I was named head basketball and head baseball coach and offensive coordinator in football. It was fun kinda starting at the lowest point.”
But Miles wouldn’t come to be known as one of the greatest football or baseball coaches of all time. After a few years, he realized his future was in basketball.
“Early in my career I wanted to go be a D-I football coach,” Miles said, “and as it turned out I got the basketball job early on and it’s a lot warmer in the gym than it is outside so that made a difference too.”
43 years, three national championships and 1,000 wins later, Miles is still doing what he loves. To last in coaching that long, you have to be a student of the game.
“He’s really adaptable,” Oregon Tech assistant coach Mike Pisan said. “He’s been able to change through the eras and through the decades.”
“In 43 years, basketball has changed,” former OIT player Marvin Woodard said. “The players have changed, the style of play has changed and if anyone thinks that Coach Miles has only stayed in one spot, you haven’t watched the game enough.”
You also have to be able to admit when things aren’t working.
“We changed for two games,” Miles said. “Tom McCracken was coaching over at Southern Oregon, and we changed over to the Loyola style and we got beat 126-113 and 120-110. I came back and changed the next day. That was probably the biggest mistake I made.”
More than that, however, you have to be able to connect with your players on a personal level. Those who have played for Miles not only talk about what a great coach he is, but also what a great person.
“My connection with Coach Miles was a player that used to play here,” Oregon Tech forward Mihajlo Matic said. “I never heard anyone speaking so highly of anyone until he started talking about Coach Miles, and he just said he’s the best coach ever and the best person ever. He cares. Coach Miles cares. A lot of coaches are going to claim that they do care about your progress in life, progress in school, but in fact they just want you to perform well on the court so they can get wins. With Coach Miles, it’s a completely different story.”
“One of my top three people,” Woodard said. “When I think of men in my life, I think of my father, I think of my father-in-law and I think of Coach Miles. My daughters know who Coach Miles is. My 8th grade girls, the team that I coach. We went to Klamath Falls for a tournament and on the way over it was, ‘Hey Dad, can I call Coach and see if he’ll come watch and tell me some pointers?’ I said ‘Yes, call him, what a great idea!’ So they understand that profound respect and love that I have for him, and he showed up. He was there, an early morning game.”