Indiana announced the hiring of Archie Miller on Saturday, ending weeks of speculation and innuendo about who the next man to lead the Hoosiers would be. In asking around about Indiana’s new coach, one observer told me Miller had worked every day of his life for an opportunity like this. Now he finally has it.
Indiana’s new 38-year-old coach is widely regarded as the bright young mind in college basketball. In just six years, Miller has turned Dayton from an afterthought into one of the sport’s great mid-major programs. He has been consistently linked to major conference jobs, but always demurred, waiting for the right opening. Indiana was it.
Miller has taken Dayton to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons. Included in there was a brilliant run to the Elite Eight as an 11-seed in 2014. The Flyers have won the last two Atlantic 10 Conference regular season titles and have averaged more than 25 wins over the past four years. Miller’s overall record as a head coach is a stellar 139-63 (.688).
For Miller, basketball isn’t just the way he makes his living, it has been practically his entire life. His father John, was a legendary coach at Blackhawk High School in Chippewa, Pennsylvania. He retired in 2005 after 35 years in the business and 657 wins. As you all know, Archie’s 48-year-old brother Sean is the wildly successful head coach at Arizona. Now, it’s Archie’s turn to take the spotlight.
I openly advocated for Indiana to pursue Billy Donovan as hard as it could. But despite my wishes, I knew that such a hire was a long-shot, and that someone like Miller would be a great consolation prize. I feel the same way today.
Miller possesses a great basketball mind. His teams play fast, utilizing the same kind of up-tempo break that Roy Williams and North Carolina have perfected. But under his direction, the Flyers have also turned into an efficient offensive machine, using a version of the motion offense that emphasizes ball movement and hard cutting. If his teams don’t get a quick bucket, they have a plan to work the ball around and attack the basket. In five of his seven seasons at Dayton, Miller’s Flyers ranked in the top 75 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency ratings.
The young coach also demands his players buy-in defensively, something that will come as music to the ears of Hoosier fans tired if seeing Tom Crean’s teams struggle to get stops. In the last four years, Miller’s teams also ranked in the top 75 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Before taking the job at Dayton, Miller played point guard at NC State under Herb Sendek from 1998 to 2002. He then made stops at Western Kentucky, NC State, Arizona State, Ohio State and Arizona as an assistant coach. Along the way he built a reputation as a relentless recruiter and learned all aspects of the game under guys like Sendek, Thad Matta and his older brother. When you watch the Flyers play you can clearly see he’s taken elements from each of the men he coached under.
Indiana should be excited about what Miller will bring. No, he’s not a flashy name like Billy Donovan or Jay Wright, but he’s done exceptional things with incredibly limited resourced at Dayton. With the power of a top 10 program behind him there is no telling what the he can accomplish.
Miller is young and determined and will bring a ton of new energy to Bloomington. Indiana wanted to build a winning culture and attract a coach who could potentially build something special. Athletic director Fred Glass accomplished that goal.
Archie Miller worked tirelessly for years to get his shot on college basketball’s biggest stage. Given his background, this moment seemed inevitable for Miller. Now he finally has the chance to show what he can do when residing among the giants of college basketball.