Ralph Miller

For other people named Ralph Miller, see Ralph Miller (disambiguation).
Ralph Miller

Miller from 1968 Hawkeye
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1919-03-09)March 9, 1919
Chanute, Kansas
Died May 15, 2001(2001-05-15) (aged 82)
Bend, Oregon
Playing career
1937–1941 Kansas
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1951–1964 Wichita
1964–1970 Iowa
1970–1989 Oregon State
Head coaching record
Overall 657–382 (.632)
Accomplishments and honors
2× National Coach of the Year (1981, 1982)
Pac-10 Coach of the Year (1981, 1989)
9× NCAA Tournament
6× National Invitation Tournament
4× Pac-10 Championship (1980, 1981, 1982, 1984)
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1988
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Ralph H. Miller (March 9, 1919 – May 15, 2001) was an American basketball coach. A native of Chanute, Kansas, Miller coached at the University of Wichita (1951–1964), the University of Iowa (1964–1970) and Oregon State University (1970–1989), compiling a 657-382 (.632) overall record in 38 seasons combined. He was enshrined to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach on May 3, 1988. His teams had losing records only three times.

Early life

Miller was a standout athlete in high school and college. At Chanute High School in Kansas, he won letters in football, track, basketball, golf and tennis. He was an all-state basketball player for three years.

In college at the University of Kansas, he won three letters as a football quarterback and three in basketball. He set the state record in the low hurdles in 1937. He was all-state three consecutive years in football and basketball. By 1940, he was beating the 1932 gold medalist in the decathlon Jim Baush in seven of 10 events.

As an undergraduate, he was coached by the legendary Phog Allen. In one of Miller's classes, a guest lecturer was Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. Miller was also a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity at KU.[1]

After he earned a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1942, he spent three years in the Army Air Forces, leaving as a First Lieutenant.

Miller's first coaching position was at Mount Oread High School in Lawrence, and the team consisted primarily of professors' sons. The season did not go well and left a sour taste in his mouth towards coaching basketball.

Miller didn't have to go overseas during World War II because of knee problems that began at KU. He enlisted in the Air Force and held desk jobs in Florida, Texas and California. After the war, he became an assistant director of recreation and oversaw a swimming pool and playground in Redlands, California. Soon, he joined a friend in the business of hauling fruit.

In 1949, eight years after his ill-fated first attempt at coaching, a friend from Wichita, Kansas named Fritz Snodgrass sent Miller a telegram asking if he might be interested in returning to guide his son's team at East High School. At East, Miller became a student of the game. He was fascinated by the full-court press zone defense that had been developed at Kansas in 1930, but he wondered why it was only used after a basket was made. Nobody could give Miller a solid answer, and so he began tinkering with ways to press after missed shots, too. His idea was to assign each player a man to guard, and when an errant shot went up, they were immediately to pick up their man. His ideas were very successful. In three years at East High, Miller's teams finished second, third and first in the state using his system of execution and pressure basketball.

College coaching

University of Wichita

In 1951, the president of the University of Wichita (now Wichita State University) offered him a job. Miller spent 13 years at Wichita, winning 220 games, earning three NIT berths and a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 1964.

University of Iowa

In the spring of 1964, Miller left for the University of Iowa of the Big Ten Conference, where he built one of the greatest offensive juggernauts in NCAA history. The Hawkeyes averaged more than 100 points a game in Big Ten play in 1970 and went undefeated in the Big Ten en route to an NCAA Tournament berth.

Oregon State University

In 1970, Miller was offered the job at Oregon State after Paul Valenti stepped down. Miller had only two losing seasons in 19 years at OSU. He retired as the second all-time winningest coach in Oregon State history with 359 victories.


Miller retired at age 70 in 1989, with a record of 657–382 (.632).[2] The 657 victories were the most by an active coach and ranked him seventh among major-college coaches, trailing only Adolph Rupp (876), Hank Iba (767), Ed Diddle (759), Phog Allen (746), Ray Meyer (724), and John Wooden (664). Miller's teams actually won 674 games, but the total was reduced by forfeits because one of his players, Lonnie Shelton, had signed with an agent while still in college in 1976.

The floor of Gill Coliseum, Oregon State's basketball arena, is named Ralph Miller Court. The street in front of Gill Coliseum was renamed Ralph Miller Drive shortly upon his retirement.

Personal life

In the fall of 1937, while at the University of Kansas, he took a physiology class, and the students were seated alphabetically. Next to him was an attractive co-ed from Topeka named Emily Jean Milam; five years later they were married. The couple had two sons, Ralph Jr. and Paul, and two daughters, Susan Langer and Shannon Jakosky.

The gymnasium at Chanute High School is named after Ralph Miller, and is home to the Ralph Miller Classic, an eight-team tournament.

Miller had an unequaled addiction to cigarettes, and chain-smoked More brand cigarettes during practices, on team buses and in his office.[3]

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Wichita Shockers (Missouri Valley Conference) (1951–1964)
1951–52 Wichita 11–19 2–8 6th
1952–53 Wichita 16–11 3–7 6th
1953–54 Wichita 27–4 8–2 2nd NIT 1st round
1954–55 Wichita 17–9 4–6 4th
1955–56 Wichita 14–12 7–5 4th
1956–57 Wichita 15–11 8–6 4th
1957–58 Wichita 14–12 6–8 4th
1958–59 Wichita 14–12 7–7 4th
1959–60 Wichita 14–12 6–8 4th
1960–61 Wichita 18–8 6–6 4th
1961–62 Wichita 18–9 7–5 3rd NIT 1st round
1962–63 Wichita 19–8 7–5 2nd NIT 1st round
1963–64 Wichita 23–5 10–2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
Wichita: 220–133 81–75
Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1964–1970)
1964–65 Iowa 14–10 8–6 5th
1965–66 Iowa 17–7 8–6 3rd
1966–67 Iowa 16–8 9–5 3rd
1967–68 Iowa 16–9 10–4 1st
1968–69 Iowa 12–12 5–9 8th
1969–70 Iowa 20–5 14–0 1st NCAA 2nd round
Iowa: 95–51 54–30
Oregon State Beavers (Pacific-8/Pacific-10 Conference) (1970–1989)
1970–71 Oregon State 12–14 4–10 6th
1971–72 Oregon State 18–10 9–5 3rd
1972–73 Oregon State 15–11 6–8 5th
1973–74 Oregon State 13–13 6–8 5th
1974–75 Oregon State 19–12 10–4 2nd NCAA 2nd round
1975–76 Oregon State 18–9* 10–4 2nd
1976–77 Oregon State 16–13 8–6 3rd
1977–78 Oregon State 16–11 9–5 2nd
1978–79 Oregon State 18–10 11–7 3rd NIT 1st round
1979–80 Oregon State 26–4** 16–2 1st NCAA 2nd round
1980–81 Oregon State 26–2** 17–1 1st NCAA 2nd round
1981–82 Oregon State 25–5*** 16–2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1982–83 Oregon State 20–11 12–6 3rd NIT Quarterfinals
1983–84 Oregon State 22–7 15–3 1st NCAA 1st round
1984–85 Oregon State 22–9 12–6 2nd NCAA 1st round
1985–86 Oregon State 12–15 8–10 5th
1986–87 Oregon State 19–11 10–8 3rd NIT 2nd round
1987–88 Oregon State 20–11 12–6 2nd NCAA 1st round
1988–89 Oregon State 22–8 13–5 2nd NCAA 1st round
Oregon State: 342-198**** 204–114
Total: 657–382****

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

* 15 wins were forfeited and official record for that season is 3-24

** 1 NCAA Tournament loss was vacated

*** 2 NCAA Tournament wins and 1 loss were vacated

**** Official Record with vacated and forfeited wins and losses

See also


  1. Phi Kappa Psi (1991). Grand Catalogue of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity (13th ed.). Publishing Concepts, Inc. 1991. pp. 275, 493.
  2. Litsky, Frank (May 19, 2001). "Ralph Miller, 82, a Hall of Fame Coach". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  3. Welsch, Jeff; Moore, Sherry (2000). A Visit With Ralph Miller. From his home at Black Butte Ranch, Hall of Famer Miller recalls the glory days of OSU basketball. A Visit With Ralph Miller -- From his home at Black Butte Ranch, Hall of Famer Miller recalls the glory days of OSU basketball'.
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