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.
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