Miller Has Dayton Flying

By Lenn Robbins
January 10, 2014

 

It’s a good thing Dayton coach Archie Miller is good with names.

Miller is beginning his third season at Dayton with a vastly different team than the one he had last season.

And last season’s team bore almost no resemblance to the one Miller inherited in 2011-12, when he replaced Brian Gregory who left for Georgia Tech.

“I give that team the first year a lot of credit because there were a lot of seniors on that team that bought in,’’ said Miller. “Last year we had seven new players. This year we’re adding three freshmen and two guys that didn’t play last year.

“We’re asking each of them to sacrifice something, whether it’s on offense or defense. That’s the way this team can be successful.’’

 The Flyers (12-3, 0-0 in the Atlantic 10), picked in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll to finish 7th, have already had their share of success. They have wins over Gonzaga, Cal and Ole Miss. They lost three games - one to Baylor – by a total of eight points.

The Flyers have a great opportunity to announce themselves as league contenders on Saturday (11:00AM, ESPN2) when they host St. Louis (14-2, 1-0) in a nationally televised game.

The Billikens, who won the Atlantic 10 Championship last season in Barclays Center, were picked to finish second. They won their first league game, a 59-58 rock fight at Rhode Island. Both teams shot less than 40-percent from the field.

Miller relied heavily on freshmen last season. After two straight top-notch recruiting classes, he won’t have to do that this season.

The Flyers are deeper, more experienced and hungrier after going 17-14 last season. It’s not unusual for Miller to play as many as seven players 20 or more minutes.

“This team isn’t about any one player,’’ said Miller. “It’s about a team that is going to have to be unselfish, unselfish on offense and defense.

“If they do that, we can become a good team.’’

There will be a lot of good teams in Barclays Center on March 12-16 for the Atlantic 10 Championship. VCU, picked to win it, opened with a convincing 71-58 win over George Mason Thursday night. LaSalle upset George Washington, 76-72.

St. Bonaventure, UMass and Duquesne also won their league openers. The Bonnies 84-70 win over a good Richmond team might have been the most impressive victory of the first weekend of league play.

There is an entire conference season to go but the first week established one fact: Teams better come ready to play every night.

 

Coach's Card

Name: Archie Miller

Age: 35

Record: 49-30 in his third season. 49-30 overall

Alma Mater: North Carolina State

Hometown: Beaver Falls, Pa.

Mentors: Herb Sendek, ASU coach; Thad Matta, Ohio State coach; John Miller, father and former Beaver Falls High coach; Sean Miller, brother and Arizona coach.

“Coach Sendek taught me how hard you have to work and attention to detail. Coach Matta taught me how to stay positive. You’re working in such a competitive business and he made it enjoyable to come to work every day. My brother taught me how to deal with people, how to relate to kids, everything about running a big time program.

“But it all starts with my dad. He was a great high school coach, a great teacher. My love of the game, my commitment, that comes from my father.’’

Highlight: “My brother and I went to Arizona [in 2009] and it was much more of an uphill climb than we ever thought. People said we would not be able to recruit on the West Coast.

“We went 16-15 that first season. It was the first time in 25 years that Arizona didn’t make the tournament. People were thinking, ‘Maybe this isn’t going to work out.’ The next year we came one shot away from getting to the Final Four and Derrick Williams was a high draft choice.

“Watching my brother, that entire staff, our players, come to work every day and grind, the way we continued to believe, I will never forget that season.

Philosophy: “We want to play with great effort on both ends of the court. And we want to be unselfish on both ends. If your man beats you on defense, there’s another man to help out. And on offense, we want to play fast and be hard to guard. I don’t care who leads us in scoring.’’

 

Game of the Week

Jan. 11 (11:00AM), St. Louis (14-2, 1-0) at Dayton (12-3). Rise and shine, A-10 fans. If (big IF), VCU is the team to beat, as reflected in the league’s preseason poll, than this game could give us an early read on which is the second best team in the league. St. Louis, which beat VCU in the league title game last season, was picked 2nd. Dayton was picked 7th. Don’t try selling that to the Flyers, who will have a great home court advantage in the University of Dayton, which seats 13,409. They’ll be flying.

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