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 [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JPPrice.