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Court Time to be home for Phantoms basketball

| Thursday, June 25, 2009

There's nothing like starting a new career at age 45.

That will be the case for Bill Miller.

Football has always been the first love of Miller, a 1980 Bethel Park High graduate and gridder who's lived in West Mifflin for over two decades.

Miller played football for the Blackhawks and was an assistant coach for the indoor Erie RiverRats before stepping down when the team got off to an 0-7 start the past campaign.

"After leaving the RiverRats I wanted to bring in an AF2 football team, but there really wasn't any place to play around here except the Pittsburgh Penguins' new arena," he said Wednesday.

Miller was talking from the Court Time Sports Center in Elizabeth, which will now will be his second home.

The reason being Miller heads the ownership and will serve as general manager of the Pittsburgh Phantoms, an entry in the new Global Professional Basketball League.

The Phantoms will play their home games at Court Time, and Miller couldn't be happier.

"We'll have one of the premier facilities in the league because we'll also have our offices and practices there," he said. "It's great when you can do all your business at the same place.

"Court Time has a good drawing with people coming here for youth basketball, soccer and volleyball."

The league will open its first season in January. Teams will play a 32-game schedule, with the playoffs in April.

The Phantoms will be one of two Pennsylvania teams in the league, along with the Lancaster Liberty, who will play at the Lancaster Christian School in West Lampeter Township.

The other announced franchises are the Canton Conquest and Barberton Wizards in Ohio, the North Jersey Runnin' Regulators in New Jersey and Baton Rouge in Louisiana.

"We'll play two games a week with one home and one away," said Miller. "Our games will probably be on Wednesdays and Saturdays so we don't compete against the high schools. We'll be able to seat 1,000 for basketball."

The largest crowd to date at Court Time was 875 several months ago when pro wrestler Ric Flair made an appearance at a mat show.

The league will have a salary cap of $750 a game for 10 players. It means if one player is paid $250, the remaining $500 will be divided among the other nine players.

"We'll have 15 players on the roster with 10 on the active list," said Miller. "We'd like to get at least five local guys who are known in the area."

Among the names that have been mentioned as possibilities are former Pitt standout Carl Krauser and California University product Derrick Scott, who starred at Duquesne High.

"Our first priority is getting a good coach, and we hope to have one in another week," said Miller.

The team will hold its first tryout July 12. League-wide tryouts are Aug. 14-15 in Canton with a player draft the following day.

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