Huskers' Miles hopes players respond to punishment right way
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska basketball coach Tim Miles is about to find out if his tough love gets the results he desires.
The Cornhuskers (13-14, 5-10 Big Ten) have lost five straight and seven of eight heading into Thursday night's game at Ohio State (19-8, 8-6). They hit bottom with a 28-point home loss to Iowa on Sunday, and Miles responded by locking his players out of their posh locker room and lounge and cutting off media access to them.
''I believe the message was received,'' Miles said Wednesday.
The embarrassing home performance motivated Miles to say his players don't deserve the many amenities of the locker room and lounge in the practice facility, which is regarded as one of the nation's best.
Team managers Monday lined up individual bags of gear for the players and set them in the corridor outside the locker room. Players have been dressing and showering in an equipment room.
''All I want them to do is to think about what it means to be a Husker basketball player,'' Miles said. ''If the only way to do that is to remove them from an everyday circumstance or everyday physical environment, so it's not the same old, same old... They really have to think about, `Why am I here? Is this really important to me? What am I about?'''
Miles said he hadn't decided when to end the lockout and that the team showed ''outstanding'' effort in the two practices after the Iowa game.
''One player said he thought he had his most fun practicing the day after the Iowa game,'' Miles said. ''I said, `Great, you should have tried that 20 hours earlier.' And we practiced hard. It was not a fun practice, if you know what I mean.''
The Iowa performance was a breaking point for Miles, who arrived three years ago with a reputation as a program builder. This is his 10th season as a Division I head coach, and all of his teams at North Dakota State, Colorado State and Nebraska improved their records each year. The streak will end this season unless the Huskers go on an improbable run.
Last season's team finished 19-13 and won eight of its last nine in the regular season to make the NCAA tournament. The Huskers returned almost everybody and were ranked No. 21 in the preseason.
The offense has gotten worse. The Huskers are 336th nationally in 3-point shooting (28.7 percent), and that has allowed opponents to pack the lane and cut off driving lanes.
The Huskers have scored 46 or fewer points in four of the last eight games. While going 0-7 in Big Ten road games, the Huskers are shooting 22.7 percent on 3s and averaging 51.7 points.
Miles said his coaching friends and others have been supportive of the lockout. He said he also knows some people think he's showboating.
''I've seen people say, `Is Miles kicked out of his office?' Well, we're not equals. This is not a marriage. It's like a parent and child,'' Miles said. ''There's actually an authority figure called a coach nowadays that's still hanging around on occasion.''
Miles said he was surprised how much national attention the lockout received.
''If we're that big a story,'' he said, ''the Oscars must have really stunk.''