I know many of us are high on the young coach of the Dayton Flyers. I thought I'd delve into his qualifications a bit more and see if he's worth backing up the Brinks truck.
Who, me? Image via udquickly.udayton.edu
- From Beaver Falls, PA, which sounds like a fictional place.
- Played point guard for NC State from 1998-2002.
- Older brother is Sean Miller of Arizona.
- This dude is only 34 years old.
- Coached as an assistant at WKU for one year, then under Herb Sendek for two years at NC State and one year at Arizona State.
- Moved on to another assistant coaching position at Ohio State for the '07-'08 season.
- Followed his brother Sean to Arizona in 2009 where he was Associate Head Coach for two seasons. In their first season with the Wildcats they finished with a 16-15 record (10-8, 4th place in the PAC 10) and missed the NCAA Tournament. The Millers and their Wildcats (which is also the name of my favorite psych-folk band) had a great turnaround the next year, going 30-8 (14-4, 1st place in the PAC 12) and reaching the Elite Eight.
- Accepted position as Head Coach at Dayton in 2011. Prior to Miller's arrival, Brian Gregory led the Flyers to the NIT Championship in 2009-10 and a first-round NIT exit in 2010-11. Here's Wikipedia on Gregory's tenure:
- Gregory compiled a 172-94 record with the Flyers through eight seasons, leading them to two NCAAs and three NITs. Gregory also recruited future NBA players Brian Roberts, Chris Wright, and Chris Johnson, Dayton's first NBA players since Negele Knight in 1990. Gregory accepted the head coaching position at Georgia Tech following the 2010-11 season.
- Miller's first season with the Flyers yielded a 20-13 record (9-7, 5th place in A-10) and a first-round NIT defeat at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes.
- In his second season at Dayton, the Flyers took a step back, going 17-14 record (7-9, 11th in A-10). Dayton missed the postseason entirely.
- Miller's third season at Dayton was his breakthrough and is the only reason he's on Mizzou's radar. The Flyers went 26-11 (10-6, tied for 5th in A-10) on the season, including road victories at Georgia Tech, at Ole Miss and at SLU; neutral site victories over Gonzaga and Cal; and home wins over UMass and Richmond. Questionable losses to Illinois State and Rhode Island combined with a season sweep of three losses to St. Joe's to keep the Flyers on the bubble, but they did enough to be safely in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009 and only the 15th time in school history. They proved they belonged with a memorable run to the Elite Eight as an 11 seed, beating Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford before falling by 10 points to Florida.
- While at Arizona, the Millers' first class was pretty "meh" by the program's high standards. One ESPN100 player from AZ (Daniel Bejarano) one juco guy from St. Louis (Jesse Perry), and one highly-touted SoCal shooting guard (Jordin Mayes).
- The 2011 Arizona class was amazing and speaks to Miller as a VERY good recruiter, albeit at a very prestigious program. The Wildcats' class ranked 10th in the country, with four ESPN100 recruits (Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Choi and Sidiki Johnson). Turner and Choi are from CA, Nick Johnson from AZ and Sidiki Johnson from the Bronx.
- His classes at Dayton have been about what you'd expect of a high-mid-major. No ESPN100 kids, mostly 3- and 2-stars. Dyshawn Pierre is his highest rated recruit to date at Dayton. Miller's recruited kids from Canada, Ohio, Chicago and NYC while at Dayton. None from the southeast.
Xs and Os
His Dayton bio says he's a whiz:
Miller is regarded as a top recruiter – his last class of incoming recruits at Arizona were a Top 10 class – and game strategist – he was the architect of Arizona’s upset of eighth-ranked Texas to get them to the 2011 Sweet 16.
Last year's squad ranked 36th in KenPom's AdjO and 71st in AdjD, with an overall rating of 38th. By way of comparison, Mizzou finished rated 78th overall, with the 32nd rank in AdjO and 160th in AdjD. By all appearances Miller can coach both offense and defense, which would be a nice change.
- I couldn't find any NCAA compliance issues in Miller's time at Arizona or Dayton.
- Pretty typical college program illegal stuff here. Another kid was in murky waters regarding a sexual assault accusation but was reinstated, so that's an interesting case study:
UD coach Archie Miller kept a scholarship open, though he said he wasn't sure whether the school would allow Kavanaugh to return. That decision was made a couple of weeks ago.
Miller wanted to see some remorse - and did.
"I think the biggest thing for him is he's sorry," the second-year coach said. "When you go through something like that, you learn a lot about opportunity. You learn a lot about privileges. One thing you've got right now in him is he's someone who knows things shouldn't be taken for granted.
"I think Matt has grown up a lot. I'm just anxious to get him back in the fold and continue to coach him. I know what he's all about right now and feel very, very confident that we're going to be able to lead him to the finish line. That's our job."
- As a private institution, Dayton doesn't have to disclose Miller's salary. In March his contract was extended to 2019, so I'd presume his buyout is steep.
I personally think too much is being made of one Elite Eight run. He's been good but not great in the other two years at Dayton.
He has not recruited at a particularly high level outside of Arizona. He has not finished higher than 5th in the A-10 or won more than 26 games, including that tourney run. Those facts are only mildly concerning, though, because it's not like Dayton is a historic league power. Brian Gregory never won the league and Oliver Purnell only won it once, via the conference tournament.
The bottom line to me is that he's had success but is still largely unproven. That being said, his Flyers last year were vastly superior to our Tigers with inferior talent, so he seems like a clear upgrade. At only 34 years old, his ceiling looks sky-high. I'd be ecstatic if he was the hire, but the odds seem low due to that recent extension and rumors that he already rebuffed Marquette.
I think after Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart say no, he's the next call Mike Alden makes.