LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) It's too early to know what Nebraska will do for an encore after last season's late surge carried the Cornhuskers to the NCAA tournament.
What's certain is that Tim Miles will make it a fun ride.
Miles is as intense as any coach when his team is on the court, and his results through two seasons have been consistent with his reputation as a program builder. It's the way he's gone about his business off the court that has done as much to earn him statewide popularity and breathe fresh air into a program in need of a pulse.
A youthful 48, Miles flashes a quick wit and smile with the fans and media, scores big with his social-media acumen and isn't above hijinks such as submitting a tongue-in-cheek application for the job as leader of the student section at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Yeah, this guy likes to have a good time. And he said he would be no different if he were, say, an accountant.
''We'd have a fun accounting firm, I think,'' he said, ''as long as they didn't have me doing the math.''
After Miles made that comment during an hour-long interview with The Associated Press, he started spinning a yarn about how his personal accountant every year counsels him on the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.
That's typical Miles. He tells one story, and it flows into another. He said his people-person persona goes back to his upbringing in a small South Dakota town where his parents ran a weekly newspaper out of the house and folks were always coming and going.
As a result, fan outreach always has come effortlessly.
''What I like about him is that what you see is what you get,'' said Omaha investment adviser Mick Shonsey, a basketball booster since the 1970s. ''There is nothing fake about him. The guy remembers his roots, where he came from. He's a kid from Doland, South Dakota, and he's just as genuine as he can be.''
Radio play-by-play announcer Kent Pavelka said Miles was just what the Cornhuskers needed after Doc Sadler was let go following the 2011-12 season. Interest in the program was as low as ever, but new facilities offered hope.
Miles had taken over a dysfunctional Colorado State program in 2007, had the Rams playing in the postseason by his third year and in the NCAA tournament by his fifth. He's using the same template at Nebraska. He prefers a motion offense and demands excellence on defense, and he's attracting higher-level recruits.
''You'll see coaches who are good at X's and O's and don't have much personality,'' Pavelka said. ''You'll see guys who have a lot of personality who haven't done what he's done in terms of affecting the product. His combination of that is what astonishes me. I've never seen anyone who matches what he suggests to the public in reality. It's not some act. You don't see a different Tim Miles on the bus.''
It was at Colorado State that Miles turned to social media to keep his program in the public eye. In 2009, the CSU athletic marketing director thought it would be a good idea to have Miles use Twitter and Facebook to engage fans. Miles said he would do one, not both, and he chose Twitter.
The marketing director, Ben Chulick, set up Miles' handle and password, gave him a quick Twitter lesson, and Miles took it from there. On Chulick's recommendation, Miles began tweeting at halftime to offer a quick thought about how the game was going. He continues to send out those halftime tweets at Nebraska through a media assistant who has access to his account.
(at)CoachMiles now has more than 75,000 followers. And though that's but a small fraction of Kentucky coach John Calipari's 1.3 million, and less than the 96,000 following the little-used account of Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini, Miles' reach is notable at a school with such little basketball tradition.
''I'm not surprised at all,'' said Chulick, now in athletic marketing at Arizona. ''I knew once he got that job at Nebraska, with the amount of fans they have, he was about to blow up on Twitter.''
Miles regularly posts random thoughts, interesting or funny pictures, and responds to tweets from his followers if they are not disparaging. He even responds to wayward tweets meant for LSU football coach Les Miles, redirecting them to the handle (at)LSUCoachMiles.
Beyond social media, Miles uses old-fashioned, face-to-face interaction to cultivate and keep fans. He won't blow off someone who wants to chat him up. He won't refuse someone who wants to take a picture with him.
''This has got to be great for the fans because, A, we've got a long-suffering fan base and B, we've got one of the most loyal fan bases you can imagine,'' he said. ''I'm just excited to be their coach, and I really want to build a winner for them and exceed their expectations.''
Miles said coaching is more a lifestyle than a job, especially at the highest levels. He said he won't let it consume him or become detrimental to his family life. He and his wife, Kari, have a daughter in high school and a son in grade school
''I'm not going to let my job be bigger than my life,'' he said. ''I want my job to be part of my life, and a huge part of my life, but I'm going to enjoy life. I'm going to enjoy the job. I'm going to do the right thing for the job and work my butt off for that university and fan base and student-athletes and my staff. But I'm going to have fun doing it, bottom line.''