Archie Miller spent six highly successful seasons at Dayton. He led the flyers to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight in 2014.
His final game at Dayton, however, ended in defeat. Wichita State beat Dayton, 64-58, in the first round of the tournament.
“That was tough,” Miller, now the coach at Indiana, said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was really, really tough. We had been through so much, that group, and to be on the floor with Wichita State, I think anyone who watched that game saw two teams competing at a very, very high level. It was physical. Guys weren’t giving anything, and we came up short. Wichita State, in my opinion, was a really good team. Their size bothered us, and we weren’t able to get the baskets that we needed to sort of hold them off at the end. But when I walked off the floor, I was proud. I was proud that on that stage against that team . . . I don’t think we disappointed. We just came up a little bit short.”
It was an emotionally trying season for Dayton, which returned to the tournament without Steve McElvene, who passed away in May 2016 at the age of 20.
McElvene was on the Flyers’ minds after losing to Wichita State.
“For those guys in the locker room, that was an emotional locker room,” Miller said. “Anytime you’ve finished your career and you went through so much, especially together, it’s hard to really put it into perspective that that would have been the last time that group would be together. As time has moved on, you sort of start to reflect on all the good moments and all the craziness that’s happened over their careers. You’re proud of all of them, but at the same time, you wish you could have kept it going for sure.”
Miller hopes to go further at Indiana. He replaced Tom Crean, who was fired after nine seasons in Bloomington.
While making the tournament and winning a game or two was enough at Dayton, that won’t be enough at Indiana – just as it hasn’t been enough for Sean Miller in Arizona.
“I think that Sean is due to break through,” Miller said of his older brother, who is 0-5 in regional finals. “Sometimes the seeds hurt. It’s a lot about a crapshoot, but I think when you’re in the regular season and you’re competing for titles, eventually you’re going to be putting yourself in a situation where the seeds allow you to hopefully creep into that second weekend consistently.”
Indiana has just one Final Four appearance since 1992. If Miller wants to stick around, he’ll need to change that.
“Getting to the Final Four is a barometer, I think, for every coach and every program, and at Indiana, it’s clearly the barometer they want to be judged by,” Miller said. “And I know that.”
As for Dayton, Miller will always be thankful for his time there.
“Anthony Grant just got one of the best jobs in all of college basketball,” Miller said. “He’ll be loved forever there.”