Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 1, 2012

MARK MAYNARD: Darius Miller: UK Throwback

LEXINGTON — Darius Miller is a Throwback Cat. Think Richie Farmer, John Pelphrey and Deron Feldhaus. He could have been one of those guys.

Always loved the Blue.

Always True Blue.

Maybe that’s why Kentucky fans love to see Darius Miller succeed. He’s what we used to expect from a UK basketball player from Kentucky.

The consumate team player, understands the tradition of UK, is honored to be wearing the blue-and-white.

The senior has his last home game tonight against Georgia. He’ll probably be wiping away tears when “My Old Kentucky Home” is played.

Like I said, he’s a Throwback.

He grew up following Kentucky basketball from Maysville, one of the many outposts in this great state who have a love affair with those guys dressed in blue.

We have reason to love Darius Miller for choosing Kentucky and staying all four years. He started with Billy Gillespie as a freshman and then moved on to John Calipari. Their vastly different coaching styles has not affected Miller’s game, although both have expressed certain frustration with him at times.

Many think he’s too passive on the floor. But there are those moments when it comes pouring out of him.

Calipari has brought in Gold Standard freshman classes since his arrival. Miller has had to take a secondary role and blend in with the talent around him. He’s done it so well without complaints or jealousy.

If they were going to give UK a better chance to hang another banner, Darius Miller was good with it.

Miller has scored more than 1,000

points in his career and is the only player to have played in all 51 games of Kentucky’s current home winning streak.

He has been a remarkable player in his own right and is arguably one of the most important players on this team’s roster.

Coach Rick Stansbury of Mississippi State went as far as calling him the Cats’ most valuable player.

If Kentucky cuts down the nets and wins the national championship, we will have Darius Miller to thank for it.

He gives the Cats that experience to go along with all that talent.

Usually, it’s experience that wins in the Final Four. Miller provides Kentucky with clutch shooting and playmaking. He’s a senior and he knows it. Miller is not afraid to aim and fire when a basket is desperately needed.

Miller is a tough assignment for anybody.

Coach Billy Donovan of Florida calls him the “Steady Eddie” and the “glue guy” for this Kentucky team.

Miller has always been a winner, even going back to his state championship days at Mason County.

So it was no big surprise when he was named the SEC Tournament MVP after scoring 40 points and collecting 17 rebounds in three games to lead UK to the championship.

It seems like Miller is always there at the right moment for this Kentucky team as well.

Need a big shot?

Give the ball to Darius Miller.

You can be sure that Kentucky’s players know that by now, too. They’ll be leaning on him more and more as the season enters the postseason.

Never fear, Darius Miller will be there for them — and for Kentucky fans everywhere.

He always has been.

We’ve gotten to know Darius Miller because he’s been around the program for four years. That makes him a rare breed in today’s one-and-done recruiting world.

Like I said, he’s a Throwback. And one we won’t forget.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at

mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2648.

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