Can Miller Bring back the winning tradition to Indiana?

Just a few weeks ago, Indiana University dismissed nine-year head coach Tom Crean from the Indiana basketball program. Sources confirmed Saturday, March 25th that Dayton coach Archie Miller (brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller) signed a 7 year contract with Indiana averaging about $3 million per year.  How do their numbers’ compare?  In 6 seasons with Dayton, Miller led his teams to a 139-63 record, whereas in 9 seasons with Indiana, Tom Crean led the hoosiers to a 166-135 record. We must keep in mind, however, that Crean’s first 3 seasons were total rebuild years so those records unfortunately factor into his win-loss standings. With that said, Crean has coached more than 100 more games than Miller, yet Miller has still surpassed him in total wins.  Here’s a breakdown of how Dayton and IU compare over the past 6 years.

Year of Season Dayton Record With Miller Indiana Record With Crean
2011-2012 20-13 27-9 (Sweet 16)
2012-2013 17-14 29-7 (Sweet 16)
2013-2014 26-11 (Elite 8) 17-15
2014-2015 27-9 (Round of 32) 20-14 (Round of 64)
2015-2016 25-8 (Round of 64) Regular Season Champs 27-8 (Sweet 16)
2016-2017 24-8 (Round of 64) Regular Season Champs 18-16

Going more in-depth into Dayton’s success, in this 2016-17 season, the Flyers defensive efficiency ranked 41st in the nation. Indiana’s was 105th. Not only have Miller’s team’s been productive on the defensive side of the ball, in four of the last five seasons Dayton has  ranked in the top 75 in offensive efficiency (53rd in the nation this year) even though they did not rank in the top 150 in possessions per game demonstrating they do not need a lot of possessions to be efficient. His don’t run as much as previous Indiana teams, considering his Flyers team this year ranked 162nd in tempo, but as shown above, despite their slower pace they are efficient on offense. One very important stat was that Dayton was also 10th at getting to the free throw line and shot at just about 70% from the line. This has been the benchmark for the past 13 national champions as they all have shot within one percent of 70% from the line or better which definitely played an important role in each team’s respective run at the title.

Miller has made Dayton a consistent powerhouse in the Atlantic-10.  He has brought them to the NCAA tournament in four consecutive years and won back-to-back Atlantic-10 regular season championships.  Back in 2014, in his first NCAA tournament, Miller led the at-large bid Flyers to an elite 8 appearance before losing to the number one seed University of Florida.  The last time Indiana made an elite 8 appearance was 2002.  This kind of consistent success is what makes Miller such a good hire for IU.

One final important skill set of Archie Miller has to be his recruiting.  He has had plenty of experience with recruiting when he was an assistant coach with Ohio State and Arizona before landing the head coaching position at Dayton.  He has recruited the Midwest heavily over the 6 years at Dayton and has found many 3 star recruits across the nation to build his tournament-caliber teams. With multiple nationally ranked uncommitted juniors this year, this move could attract strong prospects to IU from the state of Indiana and beyond, and Miller is already getting started.  Recent reports indicate that Miller has reached out to Al Durham, Jr. and Clifton Moore, who requested releases from IU after Tom Crean got fired.  Miller believes Durham at 6’4” fits the play style of the guards he had at Dayton and intends to meet with him ASAP.  Even quoted as saying that Durham is the “new era of Indiana basketball” as well as “one of the best players on the EYBL circuit (Elite Youth Basketball League).” With Moore possibly leaving after the Crean firing, his father who has already spoken to Miller said Archie wants him to stick with IU and for good reason. At 6’10” Moore’s play at forward attracted a lot of attention from schools like Ole Miss, Northwestern, Stanford, VCU after he attended last summer’s Elevated Hoops Event in Philadelphia. All those who were interested are perennial tournament teams who hoped a big school like Indiana wouldn’t come in and steal this great 3 star guy.  Scouting reports have said he runs “like a deer” and the only thing holding him back is his strength, but many say he is already working on this weakness.  He also just snuck into the ESPN top 150 recruits and has a high basketball IQ.

Archie Miller has hit the ground running with this IU basketball program, and it is only a week or so into the new signing.  In his introductory press conference he spoke of starting inside the state of Indiana for recruiting, renewing the Kentucky rivalry, and playing at Arizona one year and at Indiana the next.  Indiana Basketball looks to be in good hands in the short term moving forward and all of IU is excited to see what Miller can do.

Thomas Stenner

Sports Analytics and Business, Indiana University

Image courtesy of Sporting News

Stats courtesy of Bleacher Report, Sports Reference, Zagsblog, and BTN.com, Indystar, 247Sports, ESPN

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