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Indiana coaching search: should Archie Miller make the leap from Dayton to Bloomington?

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Of the most realistic targets, Archie Miller has long-established himself as a fan favorite and one of the likely leaders in the clubhouse. Is he a good fit?

NCAA Basketball: Duquesne at Dayton Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

From the moment Tom Crean’s future at Indiana became unclear with off-court issues and on-court underperformance in 2014, the name that quickly surfaced at the top was Archie Miller.

Miller’s best run came in 2014 when he took Dayton into the Elite Eight before falling to Florida. He followed it up with trips to the tourney in 2015 and 2016 before making the dance again this season as a 10-seed.

In his six years at Dayton, Miller turned around a program that had back-to-back disappointing campaigns under Brian Gregory in his final two seasons to a perennial qualifier for the NCAA Tournament, racking up nearly 150 wins in the process.

Miller went through the ringer as an assistant coach, spending a year at Western Kentucky (2003-04), two years at NC State (2004-2006), a year at Arizona State (2006-07), two years at Ohio State (2007-09) and two years at Arizona (2009-11) before taking over the Flyers.

He’s known for having a strong defense and a good-enough offense. Since 2014, Miller’s defenses have ranked 72, 31, 15 and 45, per KenPom.

Here’s a better look at how Miller matches up to Crean and the current Hoosiers (stats used from prior to post-season play).

Miller’s defenses are unquestionably better while Crean’s offenses are unquestionably better. To what degree that matters, if at all, is up to readers and, more importantly, Fred Glass.

Why He Fits At IU

  • He wins (especially in March) - Miller now has four-straight 24-win seasons at Dayton. More importantly, Miller is 5-3 in March prior to 2017 and has made it past the Sweet 16.
  • He’s young and the hot name on the market - Since the Elite Eight run in 2014, Miller has been rumored for nearly every job opening in America. At 38 years old, he’s someone who, if successful, could be a long-term replacement in Bloomington.
  • He would appease the fanbase - Listen, it’s no secret that the IU fanbase is demanding at best. A large reason why Crean is no longer at IU is he no longer had the backing of the fans. Miller, meanwhile, is the man who those same fans have wanted forever, which matters.

Why He Doesn’t Fit At IU

  • He’s relatively unproven - Let’s not kid ourselves. Winning in the A-10 is not the same as winning in the Big Ten. While Miller has some tournament wins to his resume, most of those came in one run. Miller’s best non-conference, non-tournament win came against Vanderbilt (25th-ranked by KenPom) and Iowa (22nd) in 2016 and Gonzaga in 2014 (24th).
  • He might not be able to recruit - Much like winning in the Big Ten is a different animal, recruiting is also very different. Miller’s best recruiting class since 2014 was ranked 78th by 247sports. He was able to land Kostas Antetokounmpo (yes, Giannis’ brother), but it’s far and away his best recruit at Dayton.
  • Dayton to IU is a big jump - You’re asking a lot for a coach to transition from the A-10 to the Big Ten, no matter how talented they are. Miller obviously has assistant coaching experience, but that doesn’t make the jump any less difficult. Asking a coach to turn around Dayton is one thing. Asking that same coach to turn around IU is a whole other animal.