Cincinnati's Robert Miller (above) has been unduly under-publicized. For three years the 6'10" center-forward has been a scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking machine for the Bearcats. But, because of Coach Gale Catlett's emphasis on teamwork, Miller's statistics (last season he averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs) have not been sparkling enough to earn him the recognition he deserves. This fall one forecast even failed to list him as an honorable mention All-America candidate. "I figure the best way to get recognition is to be part of a good team," says Miller, "and this year I think we have the talent to win the NCAA title."
So does Catlett. In his first five seasons at Cincinnati, injuries have thwarted the pugnacious young coach's grand design to return the Bearcats to glory. Last season, for example, 6'9" Pivot Pat Cummings, who looks and plays a lot like Dave Cowens, was out for the season with a bad foot. He is hale now.
"I probably shouldn't say this," Catlett says, "but my first eight will be as good as any eight in the country. We've got experience, shooting ability, attitude, quickness, everything. This is the first time I've had them all together. Now we can play with anybody."
Catlett got a scare during pre-season practice when Miller tore cartilage in his left knee. However, with heat treatment and a protective pad, the knee now has been declared ready for action. To Catlett, a sound Miller is the key to what he hopes will be a sensational season. At 220 pounds, Miller is not brawny, but he compensates with quickness and leaping ability. His vertical jump has been measured at 42 inches. Says Catlett: "If we'd feature him, he could average 35 a game. But we keep the scoring balanced and, with our system, we've won more than 70% of our games."
When the Bearcats have the ball, Cummings and Miller play a high-low post, with Steve Collier and Mike Jones on the wings and Eddie Lee at the point. Miller likes to stay down low, so he can use his quickness to befuddle heavier, slower opponents. On defense, he is the goalie in Cincinnati's full-court press.
The Bearcats have a couple of nice streaks going—24 straight winning seasons, 60 consecutive victories at home. This season's schedule is not too difficult. At the end of it they ought to win the Metro Seven tournament, which will be played in Cincinnati, and proceed directly to the NCAAs. That will suit Miller, because he says he would rather play on a national champion than be an All-America any day.