GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Trevis Simpson admits he had his doubts.
Huddled in front of the visiting bench with his UNC Greensboro teammates last January -- trailing The Citadel by a point with less than a second left on the clock -- the Spartans' leading scorer raised his eyebrows when he saw what 28-year-old interim head coach Wes Miller had scribbled on his clipboard.
"He draws up this play that none of us had ever seen before," Simpson said, shaking his head as he remembered. "And we're kind of like, 'Ahhhhhhh … they're going to be all over that.'"
Instead, with 0.5 seconds left on the clock, guard Drew Parker inbounded a perfect alley-oop pass to Simpson, who jammed home the Spartans' second straight victory. It jump-started what would become a seven-game winning streak, an 11-5 late-season surge, a Southern Conference North division title, and the removal of 'interim' from Miller's title.
This coming from a team that started the season 2-14, with wins against a Division II team and hapless Towson.
"I don't know that that's what got me the job," Miller said recently, sitting in his still-half-decorated office in the HHP Building on UNCG's campus. "But looking back, it was huge. We had lost six in a row since I took over as interim head coach -- and we had lost our last 11, total, looking further back -- and when we finally won at Charleston to break that streak, it felt as good to me as winning the national championship in 2005.
"But the win at The Citadel, winning that way, I think that was the moment when everyone jumped in with both feet, completely. When everyone started to believe in each other."
It has only been the last four weeks or so that Miller -- who signed a five-year contract in March and has been focused on hiring staff and recruiting ever since -- has had time to contemplate, and (try to) put into perspective, the importance of that play. Not to mention his roller-coaster rise over the past nine months.
Last December, the former North Carolina guard was in his second year as an assistant coach for UNCG when athletic director Kim Record called him into her office and asked if he would take over for fired head coach Mike Dement for the rest of the season. The school would conduct a national search for a full-time replacement, and Miller would be a candidate, "but we needed someone who could hold the team together," Record said.
Since he was knee-high, Miller dreamed of being a Division I head basketball coach.
Just not quite like that. And not quite that fast.