It's been a demanding week for Myles, and he's absolutely loving it.
In his second year as coach, his No. 2 Panthers are undefeated at 8-0 and this week in particular has shown what the team is made of. On Monday, the Panthers outdid Aquille Carr-led Princeton Day Academy, 72-66, and then came back on Wednesday to beat rival John Carroll, 40-39.
In Friday's I-95 Invitational at Loyola University, the Panthers will take on highly touted Travis High (Texas), which features two of the nation's top recruits in twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
Myles, who played basketball at Dunbar and Bowie State, has been at St. Frances for eight years. After spending his first six years as the school's JV coach, he took over the varisty program under trying circumstances when former coach Mark Karcher stepped down just before the start of last season. The Panthers had an uneven season by their standards, finishing 21-9, but Myles has seen a greater comfort level with this year's group and the results show.
When he's not coaching or handling his duties as the school's athletic director, Myles enjoys spending time with his 6-year-old twin sons, Nicholas and Richad. Friday's game is the second of a doubleheader at Loyola with Chester (Pa.) meeting Lincoln (N.Y.) in the opener at 6.
How valuable is this opportunity to play in Friday's 1-95 Invitational?
It's what the kids wanted. When we first got together and started looking at the goals we wanted to accomplish, we thought we had a special group and they said they wanted to be challenged, wanted to be pushed. The team really felt that we could be a Top 25 team in the nation, and in order to do that, you have to play this kind of schedule. With us not having a typical St. Frances-like season last year, we felt like we really had to bump up the schedule to get people to notice, so that's what we did. That's what the kids wanted and I had to trust in them to do it. When practice started and we had a bad one, my thing with them was we asked for this schedule so we have to prepare hard for it. It gave us a goal to work harder and harder to be ready for the season.
What will be the key to beating Travis and handling the Harrison twins?
They're great players, they're great scorers. They have good size. I think they're two future NBA players, but i think we have nine or 10 Division I players, so i think we can play with anybody in the country. On any given night, we can play big, we can play small, we can play quick and we can even play a slow-down game. I think we have to defend with so much offensive talent on the floor.
What has been the biggest key to the successful start to the season?
The kids are being very unselfish. On certain nights, the kids are sacrificing personal numbers for the team game. We have three to four guys that could average 20 points a game at most high schools. So it just comes down to being able to buy into the roles, share the ball, and know when it's your night and when it's not. I got 12 kids and out of those 12 kids, nine have a serious shot at being Division I players. You can't say for sure because things happen, but we have nine legitimate D-I kids, so there has to be a lot of unselfish play and sacrifices.
How are things different with the program this season from last?
It's night and day. I think the key to coaching is the kids having confidence in what you say is going to work. If the kids don't have that confidence, you can have all the talent in the world, but it doesn't matter. Last year, I don't want to say the kids didn't have any confidence, but not to the level of trust that this group has for everything we're doing. The level of trust I have in these kids makes it a mutual thing. With us being together since last year and the new kids coming in and starting in the summer for three hours a week, it's building that confidence and building that trust. I think it's totally different. Kids like consistency, so when there's change ... I don't care how good they may be, it's going to bother the chemistry for the team.
How nice is getting the tight win over John Carroll on Wednesday night?
It's very rewarding. We played our worst offensive game, but one of our best defensive games. You really have to give [John Carroll coach Tony] Martin a lot of credit, he's a great coach. To see the way he slowed us down, from a coaching standpoint, was remarkable. We have two kids that were averaging 16-17 points a game and they both had five points each. So he turned it into a defensive battle and we happened to win.
How can winning a close game like that against a key rival help the team down the road?
It's character building. Like I told the kids after the game, we have to understand that some of our guys are going to have off nights. To know that our shots aren't falling and be able to win a game defensively is big. We only scored 40, but we held them to 39. So that says we can win games in different ways and that's what good teams do.
What is the biggest reward you receive from coaching?
Just seeing the kids go to college. We just had Tevon Saddler sign his letter of intent [to UNC-Greensboro] and to see the kids and the family enjoy that moment and know that they're going to get a college education for free is special. That's the one thing I tell the kids at practice all the time -- that I'm going to work my hardest to make sure you can get to college. The basketball part is good, the travel part is fun, but the biggest reward is seeing them go to college.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun