Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 2:10 pm
By Jeff Goodman
The first thing nearly every new head coach says after taking a job is say how he "needs to change the culture." It's almost a rite of passage within the coaching carousel.
"These guys had a great culture," Dayton coach Archie Miller said Thursday afternoon, just hours after his team pulled the upset over a ranked Alabama team.
Does Miller admit he needs to increase the talent in the program? Sure. Add depth on the frontline? Absolutely.
But the culture?
"These guys go to class, come to practice and work hard," Miller said. "Do I believe in everything from A to Z the way they've done things? No, but give Brian Gregory and his staff credit. They did a great job establishing a culture here."
That's maturity, coming from a guy who just turned 33 on October 30.
"The key to this team is how they handle success and adversity at the same time," Miller said. "It's a delicate balance."
What Miller, the younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller is referring to is the fact that this is a team that has dealt with the challenge of winning the Old Spice Classic down in Orlando only to follow it up with a pair of blowout losses to Murray State and Buffalo. Then came the victory over the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.
"We'll be up and down a little bit," Miller said. "That's because of who are are as a team. ... We have some good players and really good kids, but at the end of the day, we have holes."
And it'll take time for the holdovers, who played for a rigid coach in Gregory who called no shortage of sets, to learn to play with more freedom.
"It's been an adjustment at times," Miller admitted.
Chris Johnson and Southern Illinois transfer Kevin Dillard both bounced back from dismal performances against Murray State and were terrific in the win over Alabama, but the truth is that this team is a star away from being a true contender in the A-10. Sure, the Flyers could well finish somewhere in the Top 4 or 5 in the league this season - especially with a rising star in Miller at the helm.
Dayton has already knocked off three teams from the Power 6 leagues: Minnesota, Wake Forest and now Alabama. The Flyers also took care of Fairfield, one of the better mid-major teams in the country this season, down in Orlando.
Sean Miller deserves a ton of credit -- and is receiving plenty -- for what he's done down in Tucson, but his younger brother may not be far behind.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: August 24, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 4:31 pm
In our Trippin' series we're talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin' related stories.
By Matt Norlander
If you’re tired of the Brad Stevens driver’s license jokes, prepare for yourself later next season for the onslaught of Archie Miller cracks. The new Dayton coach is 32 years old, has a stomach full of fire but looks like he’d be the perfect candidate to be your local high school’s starting point guard. Plus, that name: Archie. It just rings with whippersnapper undertones.
And then there’s the fact he’s Sean Miller’s younger brother. Miller’s ready for those questions and stories to come when the season begins, too. But right now, he and his team just got back from a European trip wherein they went 4-0 against the Holland U-23 national team as well as other junior teams in Belgium and France.
Miller didn’t care much for the games though. It was about the practices. This was the first time he got to work with his team; Miller was hired in April after Brian Gregory took the Georgia Tech job. Miller said he was very serious and direct in practice from the start. That’s his style. He has to offset those youthful looks and inexperience at the head-coaching level with a tone and demeanor with his new guys.
He said they responded terrifically, a credit to Gregoy and his staff.
“Eighty percent of the learning curve of how we practice is now out of the way,” Miller said. “Now it’s why we practice and why were’ doing certain things.”
What Miller learned: “I think the one thing most coaches want to learn about is their depth. But I also learned we have to be really, really smart the way we practice and how we protect ourselves. As a coach, in terms of strength, I think we’ve got a conditioned a group that works really hard.”
Who or what impressed him: “For me, the most positive things happened before the games even started. But also, Kevin Dillard and Chris Johnson were a step above in terms of where they’re at talent-wise and experience-wise in where we play. Other guys had terrific stretches in games, but the way I look at us and how I see us, they’re above right now.”
What concerned him: “The frontcourt productivity is a question mark and a concern as of now.”
— The team currently has 10 scholarship players. Two incoming freshman jumped ship once Gregory left for Tech. “I know people can say, ‘You could say there’s not a lot of whole lot of depth and continuity in their classes,’” Miller said. “It’s up to us to do a great job of recruiting going forward. We’ll do just fine with what we have.”
The Flyers will also have transfers from Georgetown (Vee Sanfaord) and LSU (Matt Derenbecker) available for 2012-13.
— More on who Miller is. When I asked him to sell himself to me, he responded: “I’m very nuts-and-bolts. I have always been that way, not only with being a player (at N.C. State), but the everyday process is so important to me. That’s what we’re about. Every day they’re competing, getting better. Me, personally, am very direct and very honest. When I played I was very blunt and in telling people both what they do and don’t want to hear, because it’s about the bottom line.”
— Injury-wise: The Flyers were down two in Europe: sophomore Ralph Hill, who’s dealing with a stress fracture in his foot; and sophomore Devin Oliver, who caught mono in early August and missed the trip. Paul Williamswent on the trip and played, which was a victory. He’d been battling a deep knee bruise since the end of last season. It was so bad they almost elected to have him go under the knife.
— Miller said Dillard and Johnson are the only surefire starters as of now. He rotated starting lineups on the trip to “keep guys honest,” and said his frontcourt is up for grabs. It’s likely Paul Williams will also crack the starting five come the fall.
“I’m not as concerned as to who’s starting, but more concerned with roles and rotations,” Miller said.
— On his relationship with his brother: “It’s instant and daily communication. He’s everything to me. We’re obviously family, but part of the reason we went to Arizona is to achieve something together. Our relationship will go from practice comments to planning. Scheduling to recruiting to shooting the [expletive] about anything.”
— And on the pressure of comparison to his brother: “I put a lot of pressure on myself because, number one, I think anyone in college basketball knows it’s a hard-ass job. I have one of the best jobs in the country. This is a really special place. I think, as a young coach, having a chip on your shoulder or not, it’s about having a fearless approach, no matter who you are.”