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Indiana coaching search: would Sean Miller leave Arizona and return to the Midwest?

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A potential, but unlikely, coaching candidate might be Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Arizona State David Kadlubowski-USA TODAY Sports

Background

Pennsylvania native Sean Miller has had basketball with him for his entire life. This basketball life started with his father, who was his high school Head Coach growing up in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Miller was so good in fact that his skills landed him on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

After high school, Miller decided to play college ball in state at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987-1992. At Pitt, Miller had a solid career with 1,282 career points and 744 career assists.

Miller immediately began working his way up the coaching ranks when he became a graduate assistant at Wisconsin. After a year at Wisconsin, Miller became an assistant coach at Miami (OH) and began to bounce around the country until he arrived as an assistant at Xavier in 2001. Then, after spending three years as an assistant, Miller was promoted to Head Coach in 2004 after Head Coach Thad Matta left to become Head Coach of Ohio State.

While at Xavier, Miller’s career began to take flight. After missing out on postseason play his first year at Xavier, Miller got the Musketeers to four consecutive NCAA tournaments. During that four year span, Miller got them to the Elite Eight in 2008 and to the Sweet Sixteen in 2009. After being knocked out by his Alma Mater, Pittsburgh, in the Sweet Sixteen, Miller left the Cincinnati area to take over the Head Coach position at Arizona.

Now at Arizona, Miller continued his success seen at Xavier with the Wildcats reaching the Elite Eight in his second year with the team in 2011. Then, in 2014 and 2015, Arizona made it to back-to-back Elite Eights.

The successes don’t stop there for Miller, either. In those three years that he made the Elite Eight, Arizona had won the PAC-12 title in those same years. Miller also won a share of the conference title in the 2016-17 season as well. Finally, in 2011, 2014, and 2017 Miller was named the PAC-12 Coach of the Year.

Strengths

  1. While Tom Crean was viewed as a poor recruiter during his time at IU, Miller is quite the opposite. From the 2015 recruiting class to the 2017 class, Arizona has ranked within the top 10 in the nation for its recruiting.
  2. Miller as been shown to be consistent as a Coach. In 10 out of the 13 years as a Head Coach, Miller has made the NCAA Tournament with four appearances at Xavier and Six at Arizona. To add, he has also made three Elite Eight appearances and two Sweet Sixteen appearance in those 10 years worth of appearances.
  3. Finally, Sean Miller has experience as player himself. Although he may not have the most stellar career while at Pitt, his four years of playing at the Division I level give him experience that some coaches would dream to have.

Weaknesses

  1. Even though Miller has made numerous Elite Eight appearances and Sweet Sixteen appearances, he can’t seem to get over that hump to make it to the Final Four. Even with the top recruiting he does, it never seems like enough to make Arizona one of the dominant programs in college basketball.
  2. Next, and probably the most important reason, he has no real reason to coach at Indiana. He has established a fantastic, but not dominant, program in the American Southwest. Why would he leave that all behind for program like IU?
  3. Finally, who would trade the weather down in Tucson for weather like Bloomington’s? I mean who in their right mind would trade a city that averages a high of 83 degrees annually for a town where it wouldn’t be uncommon to have 70 degree and 30 degree weather in the same week?

Conclusion:

While Sean Miller would be a good candidate to replace Tom Crean, in the end, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that he would want to coach here.