Surgical, precise, meticulous.
New IU men’s basketball head coach and possible doctor-in-training Archie Miller didn’t hold up a shirt. He didn’t point to the banners in the rafters. He didn’t elicit a crowd response louder than a polite golf clap.
Miller had a job to do and executed it with the fastidiousness of someone who knew exactly what was needed.
Wide-eyed, Miller seemed a bit taken aback by the immediate support at his introduction Monday. An open press conference to the fans that doubled as a gawking session by the Hoosier faithful took up a portion of the lower bowl of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Students somehow found themselves sitting up in the student section on a Monday afternoon.
“Thank you,” Miller started. “Thank you very much. First and foremost, this is why you want to be at Indiana University right here if you’re a basketball person.”
It seems like IU has found its basketball person.
From the outset, Miller seemed to want to talk about one thing and one thing only — basketball.
Building a “tough, nasty defense,” “the best staff in college basketball” and an “inside-out” recruiting strategy were just a few of the high points of the basketball press conference.
When asked about the process of becoming the new coach and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Miller pawned off the response to IU Athletics Director Fred Glass. Immediately, Miller made it known that if the question wasn’t about basketball, the media wasn’t going to get much out of him.
Miller is not here to mess around, and that was evident on day one.
Perhaps the most crucial parts of the event were the small tidbits the media could produce from the new head coach about his on-court vision. This is where Miller seemed to perk up a bit like a gopher poking his head out of a hole.
A running offensive style isn’t a newfangled idea when coaching IU, but his ideas on the other side of the court seem groundbreaking, and something to “take pride in.”
Miller doesn’t simply want his team to play defense.
Miller requires his team to play defense.
Dayton, as less of a brand name in the sport of college basketball, was able to produce a more petrifying man-to-man defense than IU’s in the same time period. As great as the Hoosier offense had been at scoring points, the defense was always there holding the team back.
This insistence on being versatile and disciplined should prompt a sigh of relief from IU fanatics thinking back to the last few years. This tough-minded approach will be a godsend if it works the way Miller envisions it to.
Miller is 1-0. It wasn’t flashy, but a win’s a win. Stone-faced, he walked up to the podium and said what fans wanted to hear. A few smiles were produced, but on the whole, it seemed more like Miller was watching a riveting episode of ”60 Minutes” than clocking in as the new coach for one of the most coveted basketball coaching jobs in the country. He wasn’t bigger than the moment, nor was the moment bigger than him. It felt right.
If Miller can run the Indiana basketball program like he ran that press conference, IU is in very good hands.