Under Miller, Hoosiers work to meet “gold” standard

NEW YORK — Under Archie Miller, the Hoosiers are striving for gold.

At the end of each week, the new Indiana coach awards a gold practice jersey to IU’s most productive player. It’s a reward for consistent work behind the scenes, a point of pride as players prove themselves for a new coaching staff.

As he shepherds Indiana’s program into a new era, Miller’s first objective is establishing a new standard of consistent results.

That mission already has a name.

“It’s called the gold standard,” Miller said at Thursday’s Big Ten Media Day at Madison Square Garden.

Getting this Indiana program to fully take shape in Miller’s vision is going to take time. Althought he’s excited for the Nov. 10 season opener against Indiana State, Miller also wishes the preseason included more time.

There’s still plenty to teach, a lot to learn and much to dissect as these Hoosier players and coaches begin their first season together.

But Miller is also encouraged by the early buy-in from his new group, a relatively experienced squad that has dedicated the first few weeks of preseason practice toward understanding his expectations and following his methods.

The gold jersey is a significant part of the process.

Miller determines the weekly winner by awarding points to players for their work during practice. After each season, Miller runs through the good and bad moments from each player, and by the end of the week, the player with the highest tally gets the gilded gear.

For Miller, it’s one part of his coaching profile that he borrowed from his brother, Sean, who is entering his ninth season as Arizona’s coach. While serving as an assistant for Sean from 2009 through 2011, keeping track of the gold practice jersey was among Miller’s responsibilities.

“As an assistant coach, it’s something you keep on your desk every day,” Miller said. “When those guys come in and they want to talk about playing time and then want to talk about, ‘Why is coach on me?’ You just (point), ‘Here it is.’ This is what you talk about.”

Beyond pride, there are perks to earning the jersey.

The weekly holder of the gold jersey, for instance, is exempt from running sprints.

“That’s a pretty good incentive,” Miller said. “For a coaching staff, it’s accountability. It’s the ability to answer questions directly on why things may not be what they seem. To me, our best players over the course of time in practice have been the guys that get the job done in games. … Sometimes, you got what they call a ‘Gamer,’ who’s a little bit better in the games than practice. Usually, it’s pretty accurate.”

Miller handed out his first IU gold jersey last week to Devonte Green, a sophomore guard on the short list of players who have stood out among the rest during the preseason.

In Green, Miller sees a toolsy young point guard who can get to places on the floor that few on IU’s roster can. When Miller goes to award the winner of Indiana’s next gold jersey after Friday’s practice, Green is in the hunt, along with junior forward Juwan Morgan and senior forward Freddie McSwain.

Those three have been among IU’s most impressive practice performers early in Miller’s tenure.

“It gets competitive,” senior Collin Hartman said. “Guys obviously want it because there’s only one of them. It’s fun to keep track of your points, see your progression and everything like that. It does stimulate competition.”

That’s the goal.

“Everything we do,” Miller said, “is about competition.”


  1. I guess every coach has their hokie ideas about those things wins and losses are the only things that in that business not gold jersey im sorry stuff like that doesn’t move me

    1. Good news is he is not doing it for you… The players must have responded to it at Arizona, and seem to be motivated by it at IU. A big part of coaching at that level is to keep guys interested and motivated in practice when they are used to having things come fairly easily to them on the court at previous levels… Especially now in the AAU era, when guys spend way more time playing games or individual workouts than working in team practices.

  2. To express gratitude for a series of great practices, Knight would rotate the gilded jockstrap….It’s my understand that Alford wasn’t real nuts about it. The application of gold fabric to the back straps would cause permanent stretching. Some guys privately refused the reward of the gilded jewel case and would hide it in their locker. It wasn’t long before Bobby was rewarded with false negative results….The quality of defense was dropping during practices in fear of being awarded with ‘King Tut-Nut’s Supporter.’ The power of negative thinking was replaced by the power of negative shrinking. Nobody was diving for loose balls….because they had ____(well, you get the point).
    It all finally came to an end when Ray Tolbert enrolled in an elective sewing class and butchered the back straps in an alteration attempt involving a more comfortable cotton/spandex blend. A tearful Tolbert brought the golden slingshot to Bobby’s office and asked coach if they could simply play great team defense without the well-meaning symbol of excellence for ‘getting in the jockstrap’ of your assignment. The coach refused and told Ray that the strap would remain useful if given as a headband to the ‘Worst Defender of the Week.’ It’s also been rumored that after the change to wearing the strap for poor defense exhibited during practice(power of negative shrinking), the already sharpshooting Alford coincidentally began to shoot the ball with even greater accuracy. Alford secretly loved the strap….Some even say the strap exists to this day….eventually functioning as a recruiting tool in luring the Balls to play for ‘Numbnuts Alford’ at UCLA.

  3. It’s not the gold jersey that matters, it’s the process utilized to measure the players’ effort in practice. And effort is something the players can control. And it is a process that prevents any player from ever being in doubt about how the coaching staff perceives their effort in practice. In other words, it’s a feedback mechanism.

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