Miles and his ‘Fab Four’ soak up the spotlight at Big Ten media day

October 13, 2018

CHICAGO — As usual, Tim Miles opened with a joke. And then another. And another.“Last night at dinner, at least three coaches (said they) weren’t going to win one game all year,” Miles said, grinning live on BTN. “So the Huskers are moving up the notch.”The reporters who filled a ballroom for Big Ten media day typed and sipped coffee in silence.“Kind of a stiff crowd,” Miles said.But not even a cold reception at 9 a.m. could wipe the smile off Miles’ face. He’s got one of the best teams in the conference. And he’s not shy about it.“We have four guys I think anybody in the league would take. That’s not always been the case in the past,” Miles said. “I like this group because I really think that all of these guys are getting better.”Nebraska was picked to finish fourth in a media poll Wednesday, a repeat of where the Huskers were projected after reaching the 2014 NCAA tournament. But Miles insists this team is much, much different. This team is better equipped. Its work ethic is better.And they’re really fun to talk about, which Miles did for an entire morning Thursday. He delivered monologues and speeches about his team’s chances, stopping only to drink water and keep his throat moist.“When you look at James Palmer Jr., Isaac Copeland playing better than I have ever seen,” Miles said. “Glynn Watson, I think he realizes where he fits in with this group after having to carry a big load for a couple years as a younger player, then fitting in later in life. Isaiah Roby is getting better and better, too. I just like the direction of their work ethic, of their leadership. That’s why I feel so strongly about them.”All four of those players were in Chicago with Miles on Thursday. Watson, a three-year starter, wore a pink bow tie he bought Wednesday. At one point during an interview, Miles interrupted and adjusted Roby’s lavender tie, one of two the junior forward owns. Palmer, who was named to the preseason all-conference team Thursday, rocked the no-socks look and had a schedule full of interviews. And Copeland posed on the conference’s Instagram feed all afternoon in a maroon striped suit.“I’m having fun with my teammates and just enjoying the moment,” Watson said.The four guys — or as Miles calls them, his “Fab Four” — are more subdued. None is really keen on grabbing the spotlight.Which is fine, because Miles did it for them. He wore a red tie he was pretty sure Dwyane Wade sent him. He fielded questions about missing the NCAA tournament a year ago, being on the hot seat and being the only high-major school to have never won an NCAA tournament game.“I’m only part of that problem, by the way,” Miles joked.But when he got serious, he talked about history and the opportunity in front of his team.“I look at it as a chance to be special,” Miles said. “As a chance for you guys to be something that’s never been done. And there’s nothing like that. Making history in the right way is an awesome thing. It’s a new year, a new opportunity. We’re excited to move forward.”But what the coach loved most about Thursday wasn’t his platform to build up his team. It was the interest others had in his guys.At one point, all four Nebraska players were talking with at least one reporter, something that hasn’t always happened in the past.“We always blab as coaches. It’s what we’re paid to do, it seems like,” Miles said. “So for me, it is great.”He then pointed toward the table of his players, all locked in interviews.“But I think it’s better when it looks like that.”