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Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: IU makes the right hire in Archie Miller

Dayton head coach Archie Miller reacts to a call during action against Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17, 2017, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Wichita State advanced, 64-58. (Sam Riche/TNS)
Dayton head coach Archie Miller reacts to a call during action against Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17, 2017, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Wichita State advanced, 64-58. (Sam Riche/TNS)

It happened.

At 12:17 p.m. Saturday, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Dayton’s head coach Archie Miller and Indiana were in “serious talks.”

Then, an avalanche.

Just more than 10 minutes later it was confirmed and that was that. The 29th IU basketball men’s head coach had been chosen in the blink of an eye without much fanfare and hullabaloo.

The reckless speculation has been at an all-time high since Tom Crean’s dismissal. With the tracking of flights, the “sightings” of Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan, the message boards abuzz with hearsay and gossip, the gap of time where IU men’s basketball did not have a head coach was chaotic and exhausting to say the least.

This hiring, at least, made it all worth it.

Archie Miller is a good coach. Period.

The 38-year-old has the quintessential build to be an impressive hire. He has the tutelage of serving as an assistant coach for  Arizona, Ohio State, Arizona State, North Carolina State and Western Kentucky. He’s even been a tremendous part of USA Basketball over the past couple of years.

At Dayton, Miller almost immediately made his mark making the tournament annually over the last four seasons. A run to the Regional Finals in 2014 really put the program on the map.

Since 1939, Dayton has made the tournament 19 times. Miller was the coach of four of those teams, a yearly tradition starting in the 2013-14 season.

As one of the best young coaches in the nation, it will be a breath of fresh air to watch Miller’s system in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, especially on the defensive end. Under his coaching, the Flyers were one of the top defenses year-in, year-out.

Perhaps one of the main gripes with the Crean coaching staff was the emphasis on offense over defense. By the end of the 2016-17 campaign, there did not seem to be much improvement in individual play or as a team on the defensive side of the ball. Miller has preached this part of the game at length over his Dayton tenure.

“There’s a culture about playing defense,” Miller said heading into the tournament, according to the Dayton Daily News. “It’s not just one guy. It’s a team defense. I think we understand we have won a lot of games with our defense. You don’t win a conference championship or be in the tournament or do some of the things we’ve done without having a philosophy on defense.”

A tough draw against Wichita State and the subsequent loss booted Miller and his squad out of the tournament early. That would be it for Miller coaching the Flyers, bigger things were ahead.

With limited resources and minuscule sway, Miller was fine at recruiting for Dayton. Recently there has been a lot of chatter, mostly from the national media, about whether or not IU was overestimating how much influence it had as a program. This is foolish. Even at its low points, IU is one of the best jobs in the country. Miller now has the backing to really flourish.

He’s built up a reputation for himself in the Midwest, and will now have the opportunity to show what he can do on a national stage.

Since the 2011-12 season, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Indiana and Dayton have had the same amount of tournament appearances with four. The Hoosiers’ overall record of 138-69 is trumped by the Flyers’ 139-63 over the same time period. Perhaps the most revealing statistic is the amount of Elite Eight appearances in that time, one for Miller and none for Crean.

We’ve seen Miller do a lot with a little. Now we get to see if he can do a lot with a lot.

If he succeeds, the Hoosiers will once again be the cream of the crop in Indiana, and possibly the nation.

gigottfr@indiana.edu

@gott31

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