Before I say one thing about Archie Miller, I want to say thanks to Tom Crean. He helped get the program back on it’s feet, from a team facing numerous sanctions, and winning only 6 games in his first year, to a team that won 2 outright Big Ten titles, to go along with 2 sweet sixteen runs. Not only that, but he helped the program tremendously overall, making academics and character both a focus, while also churning out several solid NBA players, such as Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell, and Eric Gordon to name a few. Despite what some fans may tell you, he is a good coach, and what he did to help the program cannot be understated, so thank you Tom Crean. However, I also want to say that IU fans should be absolutely ECSTATIC to have Archie Miller as the new head coach!
For those of you who don’t know much about Archie, 1 thing you must know before anything else is that he absolutely LOVES the game of basketball. He comes from a very successful basketball family, where his dad was an extremely successful high school coach in Pennsylvania, and him, his brother, and his sister were all division 1 basketball players. Miller played 4 years at NC State, where he was very solid as a 5’9 point guard. Since then, he has had several assistant jobs, including at Western Kentucky, and Ohio State, with mentor Thad Motta. At only 32 years old, he accepted his first head coaching a job at Dayton, and he succeeded instantly. They have since made the tournament the last 4 years, something never done at Dayton, while also averaging 25 wins in each of those seasons. He also led them to an incredible run to the elite 8, beating Syracuse, and Ohio State along the way. His tremendous success has not gone unnoticed, as he has been linked to numerous head coaching vacancies, as well as coming in 2nd place in 2015 in coach of the year voting.
While his signing may have surprised many Hoosier fans after all the Billy Donovan and Steve Alford talk, Archie Miller is far and away the right guy for the job. Despite speculation, Donovan was not going to come to IU. And while he would have been excellent at Indiana, who knows how long he would stay before taking another job in the NBA, or going somewhere else. Steve Alford, while a beloved Hoosier after what he did in the 80’s as a player, including winning a National Championship, would have been a horrendous hire. While he is a great recruiter, his teams, like Crean’s, play great on offense, and horribly on defense. Not to mention, his UCLA team last year was 2 games under .500, and he has never reached an elite 8 in 22 years of coaching, while Archie has in only 6 years. Not to mention his questionable handling of a rape allegation against one of his players a few years ago. There are no doubts in my mind that he was the right hire, and his resume above speaks for itself.
As I said, he has had his name brought up in several job openings, and is well known and respected around college basketball. However, most people probably don’t watch a ton of A-10 basketball, and probably have not seen his teams play, me included. However, i’ve talked to several fans, and watched film of some of their games, and have gotten a pretty good feel for what to expect. First and foremost, Hoosier fans should expect to see an intense, focused team come out to play in every game. When it comes to players he recruits, to practice, to games, he makes sure his players are always focused, and instills the same tireless work ethic he had as a player, and has as a coach, in his players. This is evident not only by his team’s success, but also their ability to overcome adversity. In his time at Dayton, his teams have overcome a player’s death, as well as player dismissal, but still came out to play, while staying focused. When it comes to X’s and O’s, IU fans should also be very excited. Miller’s teams, unlike IU under Crean, play excellent defense, ranking in the top 40 in the country in defensive rating over the last several years. Miller also plays a very fast offense, that is “never still” and is constantly “on the move”, which is a nice change in pace for the Hoosiers, for a team who many times last year just looked stagnant, and didn’t have nearly enough ball movement. He also is a very solid recruiter, and it will be nice to see how he does with much more resources at IU, compared to what he had at Dayton. Not to mention he is only 38 years old, and has a chance to grow into his ceiling, along with the program, and be there for a very long time. IU fans should be very excited about their future. It may take a couple years to get going, and for Archie to get his guys, but expect him to turn Indiana into a contender over the next several years. As he said in his opening press conference, “the expectations high”, but they are “very achievable”. Welcome to Indiana Archie!