The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

January 27, 2013

Miller hits milestone in UPJ victory

JOHNSTOWN — Jordan Miller tried to follow his shot from the top of the key, but a defender brushed the Pitt-Johnstown senior guard, and he tumbled to the floor.

The crowd’s reaction at the UPJ Sports Center left no doubt that the ball swished through the net for the third of four

3-point field goals Miller made in the Mountain Cats’ 78-64 victory over West Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon.

“To be honest, I didn’t think it was going in,” said Miller, a Central Cambria High School graduate. “It was one of those where it came off and didn’t feel real great. But it went in. I’ll take it.”

Miller broke UPJ’s career

3-point field goal mark with the long bomb at 9:45 of the second half and added another 3 later in the game for good measure.

His four 3-pointers on nine attempts Saturday pushed Miller’s career total to 271.

That’s two more 3-pointers than Danny Branch, a 2011 UPJ graduate who was on hand Saturday to pose for a photo with Miller during a brief stoppage to commemorate the milestone.

Prior to Miller and Branch, no other UPJ player had even reached 200 career 3-pointers.

Miller finished with 16 points, six rebounds, an assist and a steal. UPJ also had double-digit scoring by senior guard Nick Novak (23 points, five assists) and Bill Luther (12 points, seven rebounds).

UPJ improved to

11-7 overall and 7-7 in the WVIAC.

West Virginia Wesleyan fell to 8-9, 5-8 despite 32 points and 11 rebounds by Kelsey Williams.

Perhaps it was only appropriate that Novak drove and kicked back a pass to Miller for an assist on the record-breaking shot.

“I told Jordan last night, if it’s not me (with the assist) you better not make it,” Novak said, laughing. “I was joking that I threw Danny Branch his 1,000th point. I threw to Patrick (Grubbs) his 1,000th point, and I threw it to Jordan when he broke the season record (for

3-pointers).

“I drove it to the middle and kicked it out. We had it planned out a little bit.”

Area basketball fans have known Miller for years. A two-time All-State selection, Miller scored 2,105 points at Central Cambria and had 283 3-pointers.

He contributed immediately at UPJ, appearing in 29 games as a freshman.

Coach Bob Rukavina marvels at Miller’s poise, grit and, of course, his shooting ability.

“When Jordan’s open and he shoots it, when he misses I get mad because I expect it to go in,” Rukavina said. “You’re so used to it going in almost every time he shoots the ball when he’s open.”

Miller initially had made a verbal commitment to Division I St. Francis during his freshman year at Central Cambria.

He later committed to UPJ and has been a mainstay of the NCAA Division II program.

“His first year here Jordan had 10 3’s against Salem International,” Rukavina said of a UPJ single-game record night in December 2009. “We had Andy Byer, who was a senior. Jordan backed up Andy his freshman year.

“Jordan was frustrated at the end of the year. I told him, ‘Jordan, you’re going to shatter every 3-point record here by the time you’re done. You’re going to have a great career and be in the top-10 scoring.’ Basically, everything I told him is coming true.

“He’s just a weapon.”

Miller, who made a UPJ single-season record 92 3-pointers last year, said his shooting ability results from his working with great teachers from a young age and sticking with it.

“It starts out from when I was young and went to Dave Roman camps and in the backyard with my dad working on my shots,” Miller said.

“There are a lot of people responsible for teaching me how to shoot, but it’s just really working hard.”

Miller credited his teammates for making the mark possible.

He said he was a bit nervous on Saturday, but played through the pressure brought on by expectations that the record would fall.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Miller said. “When I came up here it’s something I wanted to shoot for. I think it’s good to have goals. Whether I got it or I didn’t, that’s what I wanted to shoot for.

“It means a lot with all the great players who have come through this school. I’m good friends with Danny Branch. I don’t think it will hit me until later on though.”

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