Jovan Miller hasn’t wanted a season to get underway this bad in his entire career. His junior season ended with a 9-8 loss at the hands of the Army Black Knights in 2010 first round of the playoffs, a loss that made Miller realize you can never take any team lightly these days.
" I guess that's why you play the games and you can't take anyone as a given W [win]," Miller said in a recent interview. " I would say I've never been so ready to play lacrosse again since we lost to Army."
In each of his three seasons at Syracuse University, the 2010 third team All-American and first African-American to receive that honor since Jim Brown, Miller has seen his role on the team increase. As a freshman, he started out mainly as a defensive midfielder. His sophomore season saw him still in the role as a key defensive midfielder but his role on offense was increased. Last season, the coaching staff put more trust and confidence in Miller and his hard work was rewarded with his first career start against Denver on February 19.
Getting more minutes on offense and playing alongside guys like Josh Amidon, Jeremy Thompson and Max Bartig, Miller got to show the nation his offensive ability. He finished 2010 sixth on the team with 21 points (15g, 6a), and picked up 48 ground balls, good for second on the Orange. His stats proved just what it means to be a true midfielder, someone who can play on both sides of the ball. " A complete midfielder is someone who can run by you on offense and take the ball away from you on defense," Miller said. " That's what I try to do when I play either offense or defense." Miller also isn't afraid to ignite his team and the crowd with a big hit or two.
With former line mate Bartig graduated, 2011 will set the stage for the combination of Miller, Thompson and Amidon all running on the first midfield unit. All veteran players, the three seniors combined for 44 goals and 71 points last season. Miller praised both Amidon and Thompson and is looking forward to showing the nation what the trio can do.
" I would have to say playing on the same line with Jeremy Thompson has been an honor. His style of play really gels well with mine," Miller said about the former junior college star who led Onondaga Community College to two National Championships. " I wouldn't be surprised to see he and I to do some special things this year."
As for Amidon, Miller not only talked about the nickname he has for the former Lafayette High School star, but also about what we can expect from him in 2011.
" Josh [Slammo a.k.a. Ammunition] played lights out in the fall so I wouldn't be surpised to see him ball out this year. It's just what us 'Cuse town boys do," Miller said.
With one more year left at Syracuse, Miller trained hard in the off-season and fall ball and is anxious to get the 2011 season underway. A pre-season second team All-American selection, Miller played a lot of lacrosse while traveling the country working at numerous lacrosse camps. "My off-season was long and I couldn’t wait to get back," Miller said. As far as training, I did a lot of hills to keep my speed up."
With a confidence level second to none, it wont be surprising to see Miller take his game to another level in 2011. Whether its helping on defense or creating offense, the Miller and the Syracuse Orange will have one of the better first midfield units in the country.
A few quick hits:
College Crosse: What kind of stick are you using this year?
CC: What do you think of the new custom Nike Hurache cleats designed for the Syracuse Orange?
JM: The Cuse Nike Huraches are sexy, but I don't really like how high they are.
CC: Any players in particular you modeled your game after growing up?
JM: I modeled my game after like a million people actually. Kyle Harrison was big time favorite, even though he was a Hop [Johns Hopkins] boy.
CC: Toughest midfielder you've had to defend against in your career?
JM: Those darn Bratton's [University of Virginia twin midfielders Rhamel and Shamel] give you a run for your money every time.
CC: Whats on your iPod before games?
JM: On my iPod is straight rap music. I listen to Dipset, Juelz Santana, Jay-Z, Lil' Jon, Weezy, Kanye West, Roscoe Dash. I like "crunk" music not "shoot you in the head" music. When I play I want to feel like I want to dance and have a good time.