LINCOLN, NE - Nebraska and U-Mary - two very different basketball programs, with a coach that ties them together: the Cornhuskers' Tim Miles.
"Well my time at the University of Mary in the mid 80s, late 80s was great. Coach Al Bortke was just finishing his career, in fact I had the chance to coach with Coach Al in his last game. So I learned a lot of new stuff from those guys, it was awesome for me," says Miles.
Everything Tim learned then helped lead him to where he is today, living out his dream as a college coach. But actually playing against his Alma Mater in Lincoln didn't seem possible.
"Had I thought that, you know, we were ever going to meet again in Lincoln, you know, let alone Mayville State, I would have never dreamt it. So, I just knew that I wanted to be a college basketball coach, so I started calling around, and Father Blaine Cook at that time had told me to call Dale Brown because he was a Minot Ryan guy, and Coach Brown gave me advice: just take whatever job you can get," says Miles.
And that job was at Northern State to get his Master's. He then moved on to coach at Mayville, Southwest State, NDSU and Colorado State before hitting the big time, in the Big 10.
"When I knew that we we're going to play a Division II as a regular season game, Joe was the first guy I thought of. Joe Kittell worked for me as a student coach, he was my video guy at CSU, he's been a guy that I've known for a long time. And I haven't played my Alma Mater yet, so I thought, 'hey let's so this,'" says Miles.
Not only does playing against the Marauders mean something to Miles, but it brings back memories he's had while at both universities.
"Every memory here, first of all, is great. And I think leading the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2014 for the first time in 16 years was a big deal. At Mary, I always think of, one, I always think of the aesthetic beauty of watching the sunset on the Missouri, over, you know, as we're on the hills out there, and looking at that Missouri Valley. It's so beautiful. And two, the people you were around," says Miles.
Miles hopes to have another U-Mary versus Nebraska match-up again in the future to bring the Bismarck and Lincoln communities together again.