Alright Flyer fans, a few weeks ago, Dayton chose their guy to lead UD to the promised land. Or at least that’s what we’re hoping.
The selection: Archie Miller, Associate Head Coach, Arizona. Also known as the brother of the ex-Dark Side Coach (that’s Xavier for non-A-10 versed readers) Sean Miller. We hated Sean Miller. Flyer fans despise him, much like we did Thad Matta, and currently Chris Mack.
But you know what? We may not have liked him, but you’re crazy if you didn’t respect Sean Miller. The guy knows how to run a program and can recruit, as Arizona’s Elite Eight and top five 2011 recruiting class evidence. So as far as I’m concerned, taking Sean Miller’s right hand man is a great move.
As Flyer fans, we are looking for a coach to take us to the next level. Eight years ago, Oliver Purnell left for Clemson with a solid program that was steadily on the rise on the national scene. Brian Gregory took over, and expectations were that he would get us to the point of contending for A-10 championships and regular NCAA tourney appearances.
The result was as follows: consistent 20-win seasons, great out of conference victories (see wins over Louisville, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Marquette), lackluster A-10 conference finishes (2011, eighth; 2010, seventh; 2009, fourth; 2008, seventh), two NCAA tournament appearances (one with Oliver Purnell’s players), one NCAA victory (followed by a shellacking at the hands of Kansas) and one NIT Championship (whoopdy freaking doo).
Now, Flyer fans want a coach that can get us to where BG was supposed to take us. We’re not asking for much; just regular NCAA tourney appearances, consistent top four finishes in the A-10 and an ability to beat Xavier and Temple. I also would like to find a coach to finally go into the Cintas Center and beat Xavier, which hasn’t been done since before I was born (yikes). The A-10’s getting stronger every year, so we need Archie Miller to take the reins and run with them.
I'll admit I was a little surprised by the choice. I didn’t have Archie Miller on my initial list of candidates, which a few readers not-so subtly let me know. In response to those haters, I say my bad, but cut me some slack. I wrote that article three hours after BG left for Georgia Tech, and with eleventy billion coaching options out there, I was bound to not talk about a few options. And I’m sorry if I overlooked Archie, but I really didn’t think UD would pursue the brother and second hand man of an ex-Xavier coach.
Having said that, I love this hire. I think it’s a great move, and it seems like most of Flyer Nation agrees. And I’ll give you four reasons why:
1. He’s a great recruiter with a wide base. If there’s one thing Flyer fans were happy with in the BG years, it was the fact that the guy could flat out recruit. Throughout the last eight years, here was the consensus on BG, a phrase that I probably repeated 1,000 times: “great recruiter, horrible coach.”
Archie was instrumental in obtaining a top five recruiting class for Arizona last year. He was instrumental in bringing future first round NBA pick Courtney Lee to Western Kentucky. That’s right; read that again: Western Kentucky and NBA first round pick in the same sentence. He helped out Thad Matta for a couple years at Ohio State. He has strong ties to the Midwest, knows people in North Carolina from his time at North Carolina State and built up ties to the West Coast talent base over the past two years in Arizona. I think the guy will start pulling in recruits on AT LEAST the level of BG. And if he does that, I think he’ll succeed.
Archie was on the move right after he was hired. John Miller, his father, said: “I’ll tell you right now, you got yourself a pit bull for a coach. He’s one of the hardest working dudes in America. I know for a fact he’s already been recruiting for Dayton.”
That quote was published only 24 hours after the announcement of the hire. That’s what I want to hear; plus, if his son is referred do by his father as a "dude," it's gotta be a massive factor in his favor.
Some fans are a little bit frustrated that no recruits have signed yet, but it's only been a month, and I don't think the UD fanbase should overreact like it has been known to do in the past.
2. He has had great X and O mentors. The knock on BG was that he couldn’t coach. How an assistant coming from the Tom Izzo tree escapes learning about X’s and O’s is beyond me.
But something tells me that won’t be the situation with Archie. His father: legendary Blackhawk High School coach John Miller. The stats: four state titles, an 111 game winning streak. That’s a pretty good record.
His mentors: two years under Thad Matta (Butler, Xavier, and OSU), two years under Sean Miller (Xavier, Arizona) and three years under Herb Sendek (NC State and Arizona State). All of these people have had success and are known as great X & O coaches. Archie will coach the hell out of the Flyers but let them play their games, unlike BG, who required his players to play to his style at all costs (see the Juwan Staten transfer).
3. He’s young, and was a player himself. Archie’s 32 years old. That’s young. But look at the recent success of younger coaches such as Brad Stevens at Butler, Shaka Smart at VCU, Mark Few at Gonzaga and Jeff Capel at Oklahoma (before the firing). Young coaches can relate to their players better. They understand where the kids are coming from, the know the things they like to do and are less removed from the stresses of being 19-22 years old. Archie already has the remaining UD players believing in his system and the future of the program.
Additionally, coaches that are former players have a better ability to get their teams fired up. Look at Smart, who fired up the VCU squad by taking a charge in practice. Link.
Only 10 years removed from his playing days, expect the coach to be VERY interactive with his players. Archie won two state titles as a point guard at high school and then played for four years as a point guard at NC State. He’s 5’9” and 165 pounds, but played in an ACC against some great Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest teams. And they were successful, making the NCAA second round with him as the starting point guard his senior year. That screams scrappy to me, and I want a scrappy head coach.
4. He thinks Dayton is a GREAT opportunity, and genuinely seems to want to be here. Archie has looked to similarly situated programs and wonders why Dayton can’t be a Gonzaga, or a Butler. A few gems from Archie already. In the Dayton Daily News interview with Doug Harris: “It feels like home. Dayton as a community and the blue-collar (mentality) and what it represents, I think that’s why I’ll be able to communicate and do a good job here—because it really doesn’t matter who you are or what you can do for me. Just treat ’em right, and good things can happen.”
An article by Joe Kay, Associated Press: "I don't take lightly for one second the opportunity or responsibility in front of me," Archie said.
"Our program is one of the rare programs that stacks up with any in terms of the total package of athletics, academics and community support."
And most importantly, apparently Archie told his father, “I’m not signing this contract unless you burn the rest of your Xavier stuff. All of it.”
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.