COLUMN: Miller aiming for IU to win sooner than later

Archie Miller’s first 10 days as the Indiana University basketball coach probably haven’t been as glamorous as you might think.

Aside from indulging an endless string of requests from us media types, Miller has been glued to the facilities at Cook Hall and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for roughly 14 hours a day, usually leaving the office around 10 p.m.

“Not that I stop at 10, but I leave the office at 10,” he said during Wednesday’s group interview. “I’ve been in this facility 90 percent of the time.”

The other 10 percent of his time has been spent learning at least three important things about Bloomington:

• Where the Starbucks on Indiana Avenue is located (and mobile coffee orders are quickest);

• That Mother Bear’s Pizza delivers;

• And it’s a mere two and a half hour drive from Bloomington to Dayton when he needs to do some laundry (or have someone do it for him) and see his family.

All that said, it’s been a smoother transition at Indiana than when Miller started his first head coaching job with the Flyers six years ago.

“I was overwhelmed at Dayton and didn’t know my left from my right,” he said. “The first week on the job at Dayton, I spent all my time dealing with staff or trying to get off the campus to go recruiting. When I was supposed to leave, I left. I didn’t do that this time.”

Staying in Bloomington has allowed Miller, who by the way is not a caffeine junkie — after his one coffee it’s nothing but water the rest of the day — to get to know his new team better and establish a baseline for moving forward.

“I didn’t drive to Indianapolis and start running around Indy meeting with high school coaches,” he said. “I sat in the office and dealt with Thomas (Bryant), I dealt with Collin (Hartman). I’m getting to know (sports information director) JD (Campbell), (trainer) Tim (Garl), getting to know Dr. (Larry) Rink.

“You have to get a feel for what’s going on around you before you start doing things. There will be plenty of time for that stuff. You have to understand the campus, who’s on the campus and who’s who.”

The approach may be one of patience, but don’t think for a minute that Miller intends to take advantage of the honeymoon period often accorded to a new coach.

His competitiveness just won’t allow that to be the case.

“Expectations are something that a lot of people want to temper, and if you get off to a slow start, obviously people are going to give you the cushion,” Miller said. “I don’t operate like that. I want to win now. The highest starting point Indiana University can have, that’s my goal, that’s what I have to do.

“If that doesn’t work out best in my favor, so be it. No excuses. We want to start off the highest possible place we can.”

That doesn’t mean Miller is overlooking the importance of recruiting. Far from it. As a matter of fact, the higher the starting point for IU under Miller, the higher the ceiling for the future and the more accelerated the climb can become.

He’ll hit the road Thursday when the dead period ends, and, yes, Hoosier fans, he knows where New Albany, the home of Romeo Langford is.

“I have been to New Albany one time in my life,” Miller said. “I went to New Albany High School (as an Ohio State assistant) and watched an open gym with a young kid named Donnie Hale, and Donnie went to Purdue. I do know this, a faction of southern Indiana really respects and supports IU. There’s a supporting cast in every pocket of the state for IU. We want to hit every corner. The best players in those corners of the state, it’s our job to figure out what we need to do to get them to Bloomington. We may not get them all, but it won’t be for lack of effort.”

That’s the future, however, and Miller isn’t mortgaging the present for what might one day be.

He isn’t digging up the past either, eschewing any film on the current Hoosiers.

“Zero,” Miller says of the idea of scouting his new charges by video. “The old film doesn’t apply.”

But he saw enough of the Hoosiers on TV to know what he’s getting, including the opener against Kansas that was the back half of a doubleheader that opened with Arizona, coached by his brother Sean, taking on Michigan State.

“I watched them beat Kansas. One of the most fun games I watched during the season,” Miller said. “I was blown away. I was blown away by the talent. Clearly the 9 o’clock tip here on ESPN against Carolina, I caught that a little bit as well. I just felt like those guys were on their way to a special season. They had a lot of great pieces offensively — really, really talented.

“No coach mentions it, because it’s part of the deal, but tough injuries, really tough injuries. They’re a tournament team if OG (Anunoby) doesn’t go down, James (Blackmon Jr.) misses some games, Collin doesn’t play the season. They’re a tournament team and maybe we’re not sitting here.”

But here we sat, none the less, 10 days into the Archie Miller era and just 219 days from the start of the 2017-18 regular season.

In between, there is just one goal, other than eating something more for lunch than the occasional power bar and leaving the office a little earlier.

“I don’t know what (roster)’s going to take the floor next year yet, but I tell you this, I’m trying like crazy to make sure it’s the best possible team,” Miller said.
Sports writer Jeremy Price can be reached at 812-331-4342 or jprice@heraldt.com. Follow him on Twitter @JPPrice.

28 comments

  1. Sharp guy.

    One thing he a bit off target on is IU support in southern Indiana. Few people down there give a rat’s ass about Purdue. The Boils are much more popular in the northern part of the state.

    Obviously, that applies to Notre Dame as well.

    For most people down south it’s IU or nobody.

    1. I would say there is a good size contingent of UK fans in So. Indiana which I think gets forgotten.

      1. In much the same way that fans in northern Indiana root for Illinois teams (Chicago sports franchises) instead of Indiana (Indianapolis sports franchises) teams.

        Chicago sports teams may as well be on the moon for most of the state.

  2. A correction.

    Sadly, there are some UK fans down there. Most have been institutionalized, though.

  3. I’m gonna go on record as believing Collin, should he stay healthy, may have a true breakout season beyond anything we ever expected of him. I don’t think that young man has wasted a moment of his rehab time.

    We’ve often heard that he is not NBA material but I’m not sure that is the case.

  4. “I don’t operate like that. I want to win now. The highest starting point Indiana University can have, that’s my goal, that’s what I have to do.

    “If that doesn’t work out best in my favor, so be it. No excuses. We want to start off the highest possible place we can.”

    How refreshing is that? Is that air I breathe and not the pretentious world of preaching, excuse-making, and zero accountability? In other words, we finally have an actual coach….and maybe, just maybe, a very good one.

  5. Kudos to Glass for finally getting it right….What we lost in the interim are the biggest stages in basketball and the lore of the program far too long held captive by blatantly obvious dysfunctional basketball.
    Nine years and 30 million dollars later isn’t so easy for this fan to dust off after subjecting such insults upon our program while doing so in the face of such a passionate and knowledge fan base forced to endure the calamity.

    Fred is far from off his hot seat. He squandered a ton of time upon our most treasured athletic program. Most fans knew where this was heading years ago….We knew there was never going to be a rabbit pulled out of a hat to give us quality hoops. In the midst of such obvious realization, Glass was writing his next extension for the coach who played a big role in hiring him. There is nothing of leadership in protectionism.

  6. North of Laffy west of Elkhart into the Region has pockets of PUke but just as much ND. East of Elkhart to Ohio State line south to Kokomo is heavy IU with some ND FB lovers. Fort Wayne is an IU city w/o Q.
    I agree CH may not be NBA above the rim talent but is undoubtedly solid material to play at a high performance level in the B1G and his last year at IU will be noteworthy for IU and himself but mostly for the new coach as he’ll be Miller’s man on the floor. Adversity and change will serve him well.

    1. I could see him having a Frank Kaminsky or Adam Morrison type of senior year. Those guys weren’t exactly off the charts athletes.

      Speaking of Kaminsky, did anyone see where Dakich once again made a buffoon of himself in a Twitter battle with Kaminsky, telling the professional basketball player he didn’t understand how the college/pro system worked while he, a radio guy who never got into an NBA game without a ticket, knows all the inner workings? What a clown.

      Dakich should stick to things he knows about…like Rogaine, eating pizza, and whining that the world is unfair to him.

  7. Pockets of PUke…near Northwest Indiana/Region? Maybe from ‘square’ Valpo…They did get Robbie Hummel.

    Branden Dawson- MSU….Glenn Robinson III-Michigan….’Spike’ Albrecht-Michigan(undergrad)….Mitch McGary-Michigan…Zack Novak-Michigan.
    All but Novak played in Final Fours….Only Albrecht ended up at Purdue as a grad transfer.

    Hopefully Archie will pound his way into NW Indiana and the Chicago area. Much of that top talent from NW Indiana was never sold on Purdue. Izzo and Beilein merely put in the work.

    Crean was losing top Indiana talent from every corner of our rich basketball state…He lost on a ton of top talent from Indy and Indy suburbs as well. Probably not even accurate to say he “lost” on the recruiting battles for Indiana talent when he was primarily pandering to Adams and his A-Hope projects…. and searching the East high and low for his upside NBA projects instead.

    1. As usual no objectivity. Big Dog does not meet your narrative. Yes, many pockets of PUke exist in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Jasper, Fulton, Marshall, Pulaski, Newton, Benton. I’ll stop wasting ink by listing more. Very little of which has anything to do with recruiting.

  8. From the little exposure he’s gotten since taking the IU job, I certainly like Archie’s style and philosophy. Of course, I really like his brother’s style, too. And I like how Archie expects to win right away. But how long is it going to take before Archie can sign the type of talent necessary to take IU back to the final four? I mean that’s the standard we’ve set, right? Or can the talent Crean assembled get there with better coaching? Given the likely roster disruptions, it’s not going to happen next season, and unless he poaches a few McDonalds All Americans for the 2018 class, it seems likely he’ll still be in a rebuilding mode entering the 2019/2020 season. Generally speaking, does that potential schedule match with the Hoosier Nation’s expectations, or does his more preferable style and public persona buy him extra time?

    1. I’m guessing Archie can take the pieces he has left and build a team that will make it to the Big Dance next season.

  9. Getting to a Final Four is whipped cream on the sundae.
    We were tied down in front of a TV and told to watch nothing but the Bozo Show for nine years.
    Basketball has always been a religion in Indiana.
    How and why we allowed the last nine years to happen to our teachings of the peach basket word, I’ll never know.
    Some sort of grotesque desire of only a narcissistic game of evil hoops descended upon Bloomington…..
    Archie will now perform the exorcism.
    Basketball at IU has been born again. Hallelujah.

  10. Well yes, making it to the Big Dance next spring should not have been in doubt unless injuries to several key players occur again or unless our three pro prospects all decide to enter the draft. I mean we’re ranked in the top 20 in all the “way-too-early” pre-season polls, and our new coach is solid and experienced, so we should at least expect to make it to the Sweet 16, right? Or is that too much to expect from our program in our new head coaches first season?

    1. I made my prediction based on the assumption that we lose all three to some pro league somewhere. I think CAM can take the remaining guys and make the tourney.

      As far as how deep a run depends to a great extent on the pairings. I’d guess they make it past the first round but after that is anyone’s guess. Sweet Sixteen in the first year doesn’t seem out of the question. Until we see the product on the floor…who knows?

      Put me down as saying there’s a Sweet Sixteen run with the guys remaining after we lose JBJ, TB, and OG (though I think there’s a chance that the person who uses a draft pick on OG could lose their job) to the pros.

      We were so deep this year that we should have been able to whether the injuries. Only Collin and OG missed more than a couple games.

  11. More like walk-on pro prospects…..I think some of the NBA scouts learned their lessons with some lottery picks who have not lived anywhere near up to the billing. There has only be one, high profile, superstar in the NBA that has ever played for Tom Crean. Zeller and Dipo are never going to break through the ceiling to be in that sort of company. It would have happened by now. No NBA All-Star games are calling…..Dozens upon dozens of college coaches place “prospects” and 5-8 year guys into the NBA.

    Here’s hoping Archie actually teaches some “prospects” how to play a legit game of college basketball. I believe what we will see are Hoosier teams playing above their individual talent…rather than, a collective, far below dysfunctional bar.
    Archie will not be allowed half the years of excuse-making to go beyond a Sweet 16…nor will he desire any.

    Crean wasn’t fired because he didn’t reach a Final Four…He was fired because of the hopelessness in knowing the “coaching” was so alphabet soup that even NBA level talent would likely not overcome such a high wall to scale.

    Has Crean received his offer from Lipscomb yet?

  12. And to think if Mike Davis, after reaching a Final Four/Championship game would have been given the extensions, the window, the time frame, the salary…if he would have lived in the Hoosier World According to Tom Crean?

    After 9 seasons, Tom Crean boards the bus with 30 million dollars and a “good guy” image to go along with Indiana’s unfair expectations?

    How much did Mike Davis walk away while getting a Hoosier team to the promise land of a Final Four?

    Mike Davis did it with Knight recruits….so they say.
    If Archie does it quickly with Tom Crean recruits, do you think he gets the Mike Davis contract ….or does he get the decade guarantee like Crean?

    Bottom Line: Let’s quit playing the victim act on behalf of Crean. The man was allowed to walk away 30 million richer with IU appearing to be the “unreasonable” party in the separation. He was embarrassed against a superior Syracuse coach at a Sweet 16. It was as obvious as those who loved to claim Mike Davis was in over his head. After that embarrassment, Crean got 15 million more bucks guaranteed. If only all of us (including a Final Four coach, Mike Davis) could be such unfortunate “victims” of unreasonableness.

  13. I will bet all the tea transported across the South China Sea that we’ll never see this sort of ‘March Madness’ from Archie Miller.

  14. I just read on CrimsonQuarry that the next staff hire for Coach Miller..may be Ed Schilling. Ex -Park Tudor coach that Alford coaxed away from the State..if true what a “home run hire” that would be for the inside-out strategy.

  15. Great instructor of fundamentals. His book Mandatory Moves was a BB bible for scoring in the state and is still highly regarded yet by coaches worth their salt. He, Bruiser and Ostrom together with HC Miller would be a strong staff.

  16. Wow…Schilling has a lot of years/history with
    “Criminalpari”…..UMass, New Jersey Nets, and U. of Memphis.

    And here I always thought that Crean was the guy who knew John’s favorite cologne.

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