It’s day one for Archie Miller at Indiana.
The first measure of business? Build a basketball staff. Here’s five candidates that might be options for Miller & Co. as he builds out his first staff here in Bloomington.
It’s hard to tell where the fired Illinois coach envisions his next move.
But if Groce is open to stepping back into an assistant’s role, there might not be a better fit anywhere in the world than in Bloomington on Archie’s staff. Groce brings the deep ties to Indiana that Miller doesn’t yet possess -- born in Muncie, playing high school ball for Danville, and in college at Taylor University. He’s got experience coaching at both his alma mater and Butler, too. Still, that might not be Groce’s top reason to head to Bloomington. Miller and Groce served on Thad Matta’s Ohio State staff together in the late-aughts and are still reportedly close friends.
Groce would bring Big Ten head coaching experience at a ‘basketball school’ that could be crucial for Archie as he transitions from a private-school, A-10 program to the Big Ten’s most high-profile job. And he’s got proven recruiting connections in both Indiana and Illinois a big plus — landing the Big Ten’s top recruiting class for 2017 before his dismissal in Champaign.
If Indiana is serious about paying up to be a truly elite program, why not pay Groce top-dollar to be Miller’s top assistant? Kentucky was dumping $1.5 million into John Calipari’s staff two years ago — on top of the $8 million Cal was making. If money really isn’t an issue for Indiana, spend like it. Throw $700k or more in Groce’s direction, at a minimum, to come be Archie’s lead man.
Looking for a way to get an true Indiana tie onto Archie’s staff? There’s been many an Indiana fan toss out Michael Lewis’ name as a possibility.
The current Nebraska assistant spent a few seasons at Butler before joining Tim Miles’ staff out in Lincoln. There’s a tie to Archie here, too. Lewis spent a season coaching under Brandon Miller at Butler in 2013-2014, who coached on Thad Matta’s staff with Archie in 2008. Seven degrees of separation, or whatever.
Not super clued into basketball in the state of Indiana and the AAU scene? We’ll forgive you for not knowing Tonagel’s name. The current Indiana Wesleyan head man has built a power of an NAIA program, winning two national titles in the last four seasons, and is almost universally considered a rising star in the profession after taking over the head job at just 25 years old. Now 36, he seems to be a perfect fit for Miller’s staff at Indiana. A Valpo alum, the school was blasted by local columnists for not giving him a closer look for the open head job last year.
TOMMY OSTROM, KEVIN KUWIK, OR ALLEN GRIFFEN
You can safely bet at least one staffer from Archie Miller’s Dayton staff will follow him to Bloomington. Here, we’ll assume Kevin Kuwik gets promoted to the full-time job at UD and Allen Griffen heads to his alma mater at Syracuse to replace Mike Hopkins on Jim Boeheim’s staff.
That leaves Ostrom coming to Bloomington, and that’s a good thing for Hoosier fans, probably. Ostrom’s been Miller’s lead recruiter at Dayton, with deep ties to Billy Donovan and John Pelphrey’s staffs. (He recruited Joakim Noah to Florida.) Sports Illustrated profiled his rise for Dayton back in 2014.
Thanks to de-commitments, transfers and graduation, Dayton had eight open scholarships in the first nine months that Miller had the job. That's a daunting roster turnover, but the Flyers find themselves in the Sweet 16 thanks to transfers (Vee Sanford and Jordan Sibert) and hidden gems (Dyshawn Pierre and Khari Price).
Ostrom deflects all the credit to Miller and fellow assistants Kevin Kuwik and Allen Griffin. (He also attempted to decline comment for this article multiple times before reluctantly agreeing to speak.)
The most difficult part of recruiting to a place like Dayton, which rests on the cusp between mid-major and high major, is making sure there's a chance to land the recruit. Ostrom's specialty is identifying players the Flyers don't waste their time with.
"It's that constant massage, and you have to be creative and have a way about you," Miller said. "In (Ostrom's) case, it's that constant pressure he puts on everyone to communicate. He never goes away."