The other day I wrote an article about the myth that persists about the greatness of Josh Pastner. Perhaps it’s fate that Archie Miller of the Dayton Flyers is in Memphis at the moment. Miller is one game away from the Final Four, he’s a young coach just like Pastner, and he coaches at a Non Power Conference just like Pastner. But, that’s where their similarities end.
Miller has proven himself to be the rising coaching star in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Miller was never anointed as the next big thing like Pastner was. He hasn’t had top-5 recruiting classes or the luxury of learning his trade in a soft league. No, Miller simply had to earn his way. He had to scratch and claw his way here. He was the same way as a player at NC State.
When you are a 5-foot-10 point guard from Beaver Falls, PA playing in the ACC, you better be a fighter, and Miller certainly was that. He finished in the top ten in NC State history in 3-pointers made and in 3-point shooting percentage. He rebounded from injury in his second year at NC State, to have an outstanding career for the Wolfpack. A year after graduation he returned to NC State as Director of Basketball operations in 2004. Miller has worked his way up the coaching ranks ever since.
In his first season as the Flyers’ coach, Miller led Dayton to the NIT. Year two for Miller was a rebuilding one as he continued to put his stamp on his program. Now, in year three he has Dayton on an improbable run, one game away from the Final Four. He has built these Flyers in a high flying act, fast paced and organized. But, the Flyers can play a grind-it style basketball game as they showed against Syracuse with what seems to be a Miller family defensive secret.
Miller has shown the wisdom of an older coach, reducing practice times earlier in the season because he thought the Flyers looked a little tired (Pastner famously fired his brother-in-law/strength coach in a panic this year to fix the same problem). Miller found the balance needed to play an up-tempo offensive game while still having enough defense to win come tournament time.
If anyone was born to be a basketball coach or is the next start in coaching, it’s Archie Miller. He is proven as player, and he has proven himself as a coash by grinding his way up the coaching ladder. It takes grit and relentlessness to be a great basketball coach, and unlike Pastner, Miller has both.