Miller draws a crowd at annual Southern Indiana event

BORDEN — The line started forming hours before Archie Miller took the microphone Wednesday, a long, crimson-clad queue that snaked around the banquet hall of Huber’s Orchard and Winery.

In a region of the state that he has frequented during his first 14 months as IU men’s basketball coach, Miller has developed a particular star power in these parts.

They love him here in Southern Indiana.

And Miller seems to love them back.

“I spent a lot of time down here the past year,” Miller said, an obvious nod to his recruitment of New Albany star shooting guard Romeo Langford that drew laughs from the approximate crowd of 1,000 fans. “Not only recruiting, but traveling around, driving around and finding local people to help our cause. This is what it’s all about, in terms of the passion for IU.”

Indeed, Miller has developed a fondness for this area. His last appearance at this annual offseason event, which operates both as a gathering of local fans and as a fundraising function, served as his introduction to Indiana’s rabid basketball fan base, at large.

He further established his IU bona fides not far from here over the ensuing months, convincing Langford to become a Hoosier during a crucial, dramatic recruitment for Indiana’s program.

And on Wednesday, Miller took time to reflect upon his first year leading Indiana, while laying out his plan for the months to come.

“Sometimes you take a step back and you sort of want to pinch yourself and say, ‘I can’t believe I’m standing here right now,” Miller said. “I said that quite a few times last year. The energy and the crowds that we were a part of, it gave me great confidence that when we are up and running and things are going as smooth as they possibly can, that (Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall) should be one of, if not the most, difficult places to play a college basketball game.”

Miller offered player-by-player assessments for the crowd, touching on his thoughts of his returning Hoosiers and the six incoming players who are set to be in Bloomington on June 12.

Of note, Miller said rising junior guard Devonte Green had one of the most encouraging spring workout stretches of anyone on the team. Miller said rising junior De’Ron Davis, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in early January, won’t be ready to resume basketball activities until the preseason, at the earliest. Miller said redshirt freshman Race Thompson, who reclassified in order to join IU’s team in time for last season, took advantage of his redshirt year and should be a factor inside IU’s rotation next season.

And then there was Langford.

“He’s as decorated a player as the state has seen and as decorated a kid as I’ve seen,” Miller said. “… Coming to Indiana, hopefully he’ll make that the cool thing to do here down the line.”

Miller said he’s still putting together the Hoosiers’ 2018-19 non-conference schedule, and he should know IU’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent — an expected road game — in the coming days.

The IU coach also reflected on his first season, the high and low points and how he hopes that transitional year will lay the foundation for what his next group can accomplish.

“This past season was one of adjustments,” Miller said. “When you’re used to coming from somewhere that you built up — and there’s a reason we got there, because we got pretty good at doing things a certain way. Sometimes you forget how hard it was to get there and how many breaks you needed over the course of your time, or how many little lucky things you needed to have happen to put you in position where you were able to gain such consistent excellence.

“The adjustment for us was starting over from ground zero. All the players and the staff were all starting from the same point in time. One of the things I was proud of the group for last year was I thought they really played the right way and got better.”

The challenge over the coming months will be meshing Indiana’s returning players with a recruiting class ranked as high as No. 7 by Rivals.

Miller is eager to accept that challenge.

The IU fan base — especially those who packed into Huber’s Orchard and Winery on Wednesday — is eager to see him follow through.

“Last year I walked into what felt like a hornet’s nest in here,” Miller said to laughs. “I really wasn’t ready for it, to be honest. I am this year, though. This pocket of the state is one which I’ve really come to love.”

38 comments

  1. More lines for a basketball event in late May…..Gotta believe this is a football state.

    Archie- Please don’t ignore the fine people of every corner of this state. Don’t just go to the areas where you’ll easily find the comforts of recognition and support. Some cities of Northwest Indiana have been very economically hard hit. They are easy areas to ignore ….But some of these cities have a deep history in Indiana basketball as well. Even if you can’t find the basketball player that fits your immediate needs, it doesn’t hurt to embrace and make all who love Indiana hoops welcome fans of Indiana U.

  2. My wife is from a small town in the most southern part of Indiana. Having visited there hundreds of times over the decades, I can tell you that there is no more loyal or supportive group of Hoosiers anywhere. Archie’s investment of time in that part of the state will pay dividends for as long as he remains IU’s coach. And his humble demeanor has and will continue to endear him to the Hoosier fans in that part of Indiana.

    Couldn’t help but notice the following comment; “He’s as decorated a player as the state has seen and as decorated a kid as I’ve seen,” Miller said. “… Coming to Indiana, hopefully he’ll make that the cool thing to do here down the line.” Miller understands that regardless of how long IU remains at IU, whether it’s one-and-done, or two years, Romeo has made it cool for a superstar HS player to play for IU again! When it’s all done and said, I believe that will be Romeo’s greatest contribution to the future of IU basketball.

    1. My wife is from a small town in the most southern part of Indiana. Having visited there hundreds of times over the decades, I can tell you that there is no more loyal or supportive group of Hoosiers anywhere.

      That’s a bold and, at the same time, a very vague assertion. Explain why that is true. What are the characteristics making “southern” Hoosiers more loyal than any other(individually or as a group)?

    2. Absolutely right, Po. The northern tier of the state splits their loyalties between IU, PU, Notre Dame, and some misguided people cheer for Chicago teams.

      In southern Indiana it’s IU…period. Nobody could tell you the team colors of Purdue or the nickname of Notre Dame. Chicago may as well be in Bosnia.

  3. Chicago may as well be in Bosnia.

    And that is exactly how Crean failed in recruiting. He ignored half the state and Chicago…It’s not something Miller will do…as we’ve already seen South Bend targeted and interest in Chicago area.

    It’s also an easy argument to make that southern Indiana…and southeastern Indiana fans split loyalties between Cincinnati, Xavier, UK, Louisville, etc. So please don’t try to argue some false narrative that “it’s Indiana…. period.”
    Many near the southeast border are likely closet Louisville or UK fans…(worst form of IU fan imaginable). We used to have a Scooper on here who was a big Louisville fan.

    Simple because Romeo was pulled from New Albany has nothing to do with true loyalties in an entire geographic area. And you(as well as Podunker) still manage to avoid the question: What are the characteristics making “southern” Hoosiers more loyal than any other “anywhere”(individually or as a group)? Mere proximity? Small towns have more loyal people? Certain demographics? Certain political leanings? Higher percentages of families with “Christian values” more aligned with ongoing cultural trends rooted in the most southern areas of the state? Biscuits and gravy eaters prefer IU 10 to 1?

  4. Bottom line: Miller is intelligent enough to appease. His ego is just as big as Crean’s ….but he’s blessed with more commonsense. He will use his commonsense to make an entire population of a basketball rich state not feel ignored. What a crazy concept ‘Cold-shoulder Crean’ was so challenged to grasp.

  5. And almost every single person I have met down in that part of the state has no love for either Kentucky or Louisville.

  6. ….sure they don’t. Sure they don’t. Archie is no dummy. He put two former Calipari assistants on his bench. It’s called bridge building.

  7. Get down around Tell City, Evansville and Jeffersonville and I’ve seen 6 or 7 Louisville/Ky sports gear for every 1 or 2 IU. Maybe – a lot of buy one get three sells down that way.

    Recruitment edge due to Romeo – Could be big, but only if IU makes some noise In the tourney. A lot of noise. More noise than anything in the last 15 years.

      1. Even across the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Ind. – an area affectionately called the `sunny side of Louisville” – where Kentuckiana thrives with plenty of Louisville red among the Hoosier crimson, and the blue of the Wildcats stands out.

        That doesn’t sit well with Indiana fan Ernest Brown, 63, though he’s more tolerant of Cardinals fans than Wildcats fans.

        That burns me up,” Brown said of the UK paraphernalia he sees. “There are so many Kentucky fans, you wonder why they just don’t move there. (But) when the (Cardinals) lose, yeah, they’re down. They’re not making 500 excuses. … It’s just a different kind of people on the same side of the river. I don’t understand it.”

        Still, beneath the fans’ dislike for one another sits a mutual respect – albeit begrudgingly -for all three teams (courtesy: NBC Sports/Washington).

        1. NBC Sports/Washington.

          Yeah, they probably are right on top of college basketball in southern Indiana.

          They are my ‘go to’ for happenings in Bosnia, too.

          1. It’s loaded with Hoosier fans and…

            Mike Flynn went to play for Kentucky….and

            Sara Nord, former Jeffersonville High School and University of Louisville basketball star …..and

            Dale Orem — former Jeffersonville mayor, businessman, JHS and UL athlete…and

            John Schnatter — Papa John’s Pizza founder and Ball State grad.

            Sounds like it’s bubbling over with a history in candy stripes….lol

      2. Well, guess I could have visited during the annual “Wear the College You Hate” week”.

          1. With the opening of the pedestrian bridge the streets of Jeffersonville are commonly filled with their neighbors across the river. They are in the midst of a renaissance of the city with a bevy of new restaurants and shopping downtown. Last week was the Abbey Road on the River music festival that had previously been held in Louisville and, before that, Dallas. The YUM Center, UofL’s home court, is a short walk from downtown Jeffersonville.

            People have come to appreciate the charms of a small river city with a pedestrian bridge that puts you in the middle of downtown Louisville after a short walk instead of dealing with bad traffic and no parking just across the river. There are all kinds of people walking around Jeffersonville.

          2. Chet the Bride and I and a couple other in my sister and brother in law’s clan we’re on that walking bridge spent a couple hours maybe two and a half. You’re so right. It is a picture and a fine place to live near. I’ll return.

          3. HC, I lived in Asheville during the 3 decades it became the Mecca of the eastern US. It’s because of that I was able to retire.

            What’s happening in Jeffersonville is occurring faster.

            Now, while a lovely, small, river city, Jeff doesn’t possess the spectacular landscape of an Asheville. But, with the conversion of the Big Four bridge, it has become a place that young Louisville professionals can live and walk or bike to work. If they stayed on the Kentucky side of the river they would have to travel 40 miles on terrible highways to find similar setting and then they would send their kids to the 47th worst schools in the country.

            The one time largest inland ship builder in America just closed its doors. At on time they were a behemoth. When they shut down they employed about 100 people. Some lamented it as a loss to the city. I see it as 200 acres of prime riverfront property fronting the new Louisville skyline adjacent to the pedestrian bridge.

            Developers can see what is happening. The growth has, so far, been well thought out. Main Street has been perserved with businesses that were well established when I was a kid currently thriving. A decade ago there were boarded up storefronts. Now, it is highly valued real estate.

            The Harrah’s ‘riverboat’ casino is trying to relocate from theirnsetting down river. Not sure how I feel about that.

            In the immediate future things seem bright. I just hope Jeffersonville isn’t consumed by its own bright new sun.

          4. Chet my sister and brother-in-law gave me the rundown of the positives the bridge offers the area stating many of your particular mentions. I’m not a casino man. They’re alright for a dinner or enjoying a show. Nor am I against gambling. I’ve bet on hundreds of of sporting contests. Hell I’ve bet on a fight in a parking lot. But casino gambling makes me feel captured and focusing on why they really want me there. But they can do what they want with the boat. If the southern Hoosiers keep their heads on straight growing this locale a casino boat won’t be a negative. Hey if you and Ruthie ever go back to visit let me know. My Bride and I would enjoy meeting.

          5. Ruthie is back there right now putting the finishing touches on my daughter and son in law’s house near Greenfield so it can go on the market. She just finished up at U of Indy. They moved to the Alaskan bush and work with the indigenous folks. My daughter told me she had moose ribs for dinner last night and they were delicious. Ruthie is finishing up the painting and such before heading back.

            I was there for a month. I saw a few old IU friends while I was there. Had lunch at Nick’s a couple weeks ago.

            I just flew back early because I had trip planned with another of the kids. My oldest and I are taking the California Zephyr from Denver to San Francisco, spend a few days, then take it back. He’s getting married and I probably won’t be able to steal him away for adventures as often as we used to. We were gonna grab a beer with Double Down but he will be traveling, too.

            I’d love to hoist a mug with you if the opportunity presents.

          6. My Top Hoist Beers List( I mean, if this is what we’re using Scoop for):

            Remora
            Husky Tom
            Tsao
            NoMendacity
            Punjab
            Ron
            JPat
            Ben
            4guards
            thinkaboutit
            Puke is the Worst

          7. Best place to eat moose?….Not sure but Alaskaround.
            I once had moose for dinner…Big moosesteak.
            Don’t joke about the moose meat….Nobody finds it amoosing.
            A lot of protein in moose….An ample diet of moose will lead to more mooscle mass.
            If a moose begins to charge….don’t lay on the horn… unless you’re in a car.
            Many paintings of moose are displayed at the Art Mooseum.

          8. My dear Aunt Leer is cooking moose with a moostard glaze tonight. Now that’s moosic to my ears!

          9. My head is spinning.

            I didn’t mention… my daughter is pregnant with my grandson.

            Life is what happens while you are making other plans.

          10. Always wonderful news with the announcement of a little one on the schedule. Sounds like they’ll be frequent trips to the Last Frontier in the future. 1st Grandchild? We’re enamored with the 2 we have. It is a time of life I never gave much thought to even just a decade ago. That’s probably good, maybe you can’t prepare for it. Makes life even more fun.

  8. Recruitment edge due to Romeo – Could be big, but only if IU makes some noise In the tourney. A lot of noise. More noise than anything in the last 15 years.

    Yup…Totally agree. Archie got the biscuits in Romeo…Now he must bring home some gravy with some major noise in the tourney. I do believe Romeo will provide far more offensive punch and versatility than anything that happened during the hype of “Everything hinges on Cody.”
    Morgan coming back was just what the doctored ordered. Double team Romeo and Morgan..or Justin Smith can exploit inside. Just hope some outside shooting shows up…With outside shooting, there’s no reason for this team to fizzle at a Sweet 16.

  9. I’m from LaPorte County which is NW Indiana. Older than most of you and certainly senior to the Chesterton alumnus. As a boy of 6 or 7 I was always surprised why the area was so enamored and visually monopolized with ND, PUke and Chicago pros but yet so many personally close to me were IU fans. Things have changed. I now live in the NE quadrant of the state and see MSU green, MBlue and Buckeyes replacing much PUke and almost all Irish. Spent the holiday weekend just NE of L’ville around Goshen Ky. As usual traveling thru So. Indiana left no doubt it is solidly IU. It has never changed. Never will.

    1. I don’t think a sea of a certain color makes any more loyal the soldiers on a fleet.

      If wars were won by mere numbers, a sea of dumb marching soldiers in red coats wouldn’t be such easy targets for some minutemen very loyal to the cause of freedom.

      Numbers have nothing to do with loyalty in each heart. I didn’t go to IU because of bandwagon, peer pressure, or because most of my two h.s. friends were going there. I think it’s rather sad that Bloomington is losing interest to those more than a half tank of gas from the campus. Recognizing individuality and the idea that IU can be a very appealing place to those who may have many(or far more) competing interests/destinations nearby is a sure sign of a unique appeal. I had absolutely zero interest in ever going to Purdue…My grades probably weren’t strong enough…..and thus chose Harvard for Hillbillies. (o.k. That last part was sarcasm for those that are a bit slow on the humor and actually had interest in Purdue or ND).

    2. Why on earth can’t you be a kid growing up 50 miles from Chicago …and love Chicago pro teams…and still be a fan of IU too(as you get a bit older)? When you’re at elementary school age, are you actually that influenced by a college? Hell, the only thing I dreamed of as a kid in elementary school(and most of junior high) was being able to run a football like Gayle Sayers…or being able to shoot a sweet jumper like “Butterbean” Love….or being able to throw a football out of my cannon arm like Joe ‘Willy’ Namath. IU? Sure, I had some much older relatives who were attending college, but my love of sports(and my dreams) were always to play on the same stage as the pros.
      I always found LaPorte to be much more blue collar….Different. It had zero connection to Chicago. Nobody living in LaPorte would actually think working in Chicago would be realistic(Unless you have a private helicopter and your name is Oprah). My parents didn’t work in Chicago, but there were many in my h.s. who had parents making the commute(or taking the South Shore train) from lakeshore communities(Dune Acres, Ogden Dunes, Beverly Shores). Chesterton students had parents who were blue collar, steel mill workers, retailers, teachers, and Chicago bankers/lawyers….It was a small town but the students in classrooms were far from a typical rural feel. Now go 8 miles south to Valparaiso where Virgil Sweet was teaching robotic steps to shoot free throws and still making guys get crew cuts to play on his basketball team? Again, different world. Valpo was Alpo served in a square bowl as square as a cornfield. Chesterton was Indiana Dunes, diverse, and hip. Can you imagine…? 1970’s and the two men who were running the upscale downtown jewelry store in Chesterton(the store was called the “Jeweled Gazebo”) were openly gay and were fully accepted and cherished members of the community.

  10. Gang,
    Appears we are missing the bigger point. Archie is in the process of putting a fence around the ENTIRE state for IU. If they go anywhere else they have to get past IU first. Haven’t seen this kind of attempt to dominate instate recruiting in a long time. Lest anybody think differently, he won’t hesitate to follow the RMK path to Chicago and northern Indiana hotbeds as well. Remember coming from coaching Dayton, he does know the midwest well and now has the school to recruit the elite.

    1. tia, This member of the gang could not agree more. The better we feel about Archie’s success all the better for FB, baseball, soccer and all of IU athletics.

      1. HC,
        An excellent point about Archie’s success possibly helping the other IU sports. Let’s all remember something else, a very successful BB coach had a major impact in arguably the most successful period of IU FB history. If memory serves correctly RMK recommended and fully supported Mallory becoming HC. There is nothing wrong with IUBB being the flagship of IU sports. Just remember to be a flagship you need to have a capable fleet behind you.

        1. I don’t remember one damn thing Knight ever said about IU football….Being an OSU grad and from Ohio, he probably enjoyed getting all the glory for Indiana basketball success while watching Buckeyes still dominate in football. Best of both worlds….I can’t see Bobby getting all warm and fuzzy over other coaches/programs at IU in the manner our former basketball coach did as a way to deflect from his own poor results in March. Can’t see Bobby getting warm and fuzzy over anything….for that matter. Lock the doors of Assembly Hall during practice and “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” That was Bobby Knight.
          Let’s please don’t make Archie the new positive vibe for IU Football. Football should fix itself. Reminds me of Glass & Tommy’s efforts to get Bobby to show up for the halftime of a football game…Because the best way to smooth the hardened edges of a bitter separation is to make someone you fired merely feel used once again as a way to sell seats for a football team that can’t stand on its own 2-legged goal posts.

          Archie’s got enough work just to fix the wrecking of statewide recruiting. Romeo is a start…Hollow ‘feel good’ tweets about Tom Allen, Joyce Meyer, the Harbaughs, Jimmy Hendrix’s brother…? I could give a rat’s ….

  11. Archie is inheriting a very similar situation to his past. Dayton also viewed there basketball program as a major success for a Sweet 16….And Dayton also plays in football ‘Salad Bowls’…..

  12. Venison for deernner…and tiramoose-ooh for dessert? Down with Moosolini!
    My pet moose died…His remains are in a moosoleum.
    Balto never chased a moose down the streets of Nome. Truth be told it was a goose… The fantasy grew out of a moosenomer.

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