|Coming back home, continuing the legacy|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Sunday, 11 November 2012 16:57|
Dan Muller might be a self-described boring guy, but his history with ISU basketball is anything but.
He was hired as the 19th ISU men’s basketball coach and was a member of the last Redbird squad to have gone to the NCAA tournament in 1998. His 1,445 career points scored in a Redbird uniform still ranks 10th all-time for ISU and his 128-consecutive starts, every game of his career, still holds for the most ever.
Muller inherits a team that was on the cusp of an NCAA tournament berth last year, and hopes to make it to the “Big Dance” this year.
“How well he played whenever he was here and the success he had is what he wants for us,” junior Jon Ekey said. “So he knows what it takes to get a mid-major in the tournament, win the [MVC] tournament and get into the NCAA tournament. I think [his history] definitely helps.”
As Muller began his career at ISU, he saw coaching in his future. But following a successful college career, he spent two years playing professionally, including time spent with the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies.
“I played for two years after school and had an opportunity to go to Vanderbilt with my former college coach and start coaching and decided to do it,” Muller said. “Of course, since then it’s just been trying to do the best I can and move up the ladder and it’s all worked out and I’m blessed to be here.”
As a coach, Muller views his job as more than building a winning basketball program and tradition. He also wants his players to be contributing members of society and make the transition from boys to young men.
“We talk a lot about life to our team, not just basketball but what it takes to be successful,” Muller said. “A goal for me is that all my players become great fathers, great husbands, contributors in society that extend beyond basketball … I think basketball and all sports are great teaching tools, but its more important that they are really good basketball players. Hopefully they’re both.”
Muller reads books on sports and coaching to help him live to his mantra of doing the best he can do with the task he has ahead of him. Muller also uses takeaways from Kevin Stallings, who he worked under at Vanderbilt for the past 12 years and was also coached by during his time at ISU.
“I’m unique because I played for one head coach and I worked for that coach for 12 years. Coach Stallings is certainly a big influence in everything, including that,” Muller said. “I also watch other coaches coach, I talk to them on the phone, I talk to them on the road. You get new ideas, you read and I think no matter what you do, you’re always trying to become better and if you can learn from people, that certainly helps.”
Considering the success he had as a player at ISU, the Vanderbilt program he is coming from and the successful season the Redbirds had last year, the expectations are high for this year’s team to succeed. However, Muller is not affected by the pressure and hopes to relieve his players of that pressure as well.
“In this business there’s pressure because you’re bad and need to get better, or there’s pressure because you’re good and you need to win,” Muller said. “My biggest job in regards to that is to make sure our players don’t feel the pressure and the expectations … to keep our team focused on the everyday process is kind of what we talk about and not getting caught up in the expectations or looking down the road is how we’ll have the best year.”
ISU opens its season tonight at Redbird Arena against UC Santa Barbara and is predicted to finish second in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. The Redbirds had practices and workouts in the summer to help them get acquainted with their new coach and get a look at the flare he is adding to the program.
“He’s on the floor with us, running up and down during drills and he’s in the weight room,” senior Jackie Carmichael said. “It’s just great because I think a lot of college players don’t get to see their coach really get in the drills with them and get in the practice, so he’s a really intense guy and we love having him.”
Muller does not view himself as much of a goal setter although he does hope to coach his team to win multiple MVC titles. His history with ISU men’s basketball program is already rich from his time as a player, and now only time and results will tell if that wealth spreads to his role as an ISU coach.