Commentary

Dayton turns to Archie Miller

Originally Published: April 19, 2011
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Their voices are incredibly similar. Close your eyes and just listen to Archie and Sean Miller on the phone, and it's hard to tell them apart. Listen to their tone, the words they choose, their fast-paced speech pattern, the passion that they have for the sport, and you'll think you're talking to two men who have been cloned.

And now this: Not only is the 32-year-old Archie Miller going to be a head coach, just like his 42-year-old brother Sean, but Archie's first job is in the Atlantic 10, in the state of Ohio. Sean began at Xavier in Cincinnati; Archie is getting his start at nearby rival Dayton.

Eerie.

[+] EnlargeArchie & Sean Miller
AP Photo/John MillerNew Dayton coach Archie Miller, right, has spent the past two seasons as an assistant under older brother Sean Miller at Arizona.

"There are a lot of similarities, but that shouldn't be surprising -- they are brothers," said Arizona State coach Herb Sendek, who coached Archie at NC State and then hired him as an assistant with the Wolfpack and ASU. Sendek also had Sean on his staff at Miami (Ohio) and at NC State, while Archie was a player.

"I think there are a great many similarities in their coaching style," Sendek said. "Both really know the game; they see the game in a passionate way. They were both point guards in college, they are both the sons of a legendary coach in western Pennsylvania in their dad, John Miller."

Sean, who has helped Arizona back to prominence with his little brother by his side on the bench the past two seasons, gives a lot of credit to their father.

"I think one of the most unique things about us is the amount of time that our father spent with us," he said.

John Miller, who won 657 games in a 35-year coaching career at Blackhawk High in Beaver Falls, Pa., coached his sons in high school. His daughter, Lisa, also played Division I basketball. Archie played at NC State, Sean at Pittsburgh.

But there was no sibling rivalry growing up. The 10-year age difference prevented those common brotherly battles.

"We slept in the same bedroom, but we were such different ages that we didn't do things together, so there wasn't any competition with each other," Sean said.

For obvious reasons, Archie looked up to his older brother growing up. Sean was already well into his career when Archie became aware of what he wanted to do in sports. He would get a chance to hang around the Pitt team when he was in elementary school.

"We came out of the same house so I should be a lot like him," said Archie. "He was my mentor. He was the brother that knew what was going on. I wanted to learn from his mistakes. Every phase of his career I was nipping at his heels, following his path and doing what he said. He kept helping me."

As soon as Archie was done playing, he wanted to get right into coaching. Due to a nepotism rule at Xavier, Sean couldn't hire him, so Archie went to work with Darrin Horn at Western Kentucky. Forging his own path was the best thing that could've happened to him.

"I knew that if I'm going to be able to do this, I had to be around good programs every move," Archie said. "I couldn't be comfortable. I had to put myself in a position to stand on my own two feet."

Nevertheless, the close relationship with his brother remained.

"They are incredibly close and I don't think they went a day without talking to each other even when they weren't on the same staff," Sendek said. "They are similar. They are great competitors. They were both self-made players. They both can be feisty. They share that attribute and it serves them well in the profession."

We came out of the same house so I should be a lot like him. He was my mentor. He was the brother that knew what was going on. I wanted to learn from his mistakes. Every phase of his career I was nipping at his heels, following his path and doing what he said. He kept helping me.

-- Dayton coach Archie Miller on older brother Sean Miller

Archie went on to work for Arizona State and eventually Ohio State under Thad Matta, another former Xavier head coach and Sean Miller mentor. Archie arrived in Arizona two years ago to help build the Wildcats program into a national power again.

"The thing that I'm most proud of," said Sean, "is that he came here to be with me, to move his family, with what was set at Ohio State with Jared Sullinger coming in. He didn't have to do that."

The Dayton job opened when Brian Gregory made the surprising move to Georgia Tech. UD is one of the top jobs in the Atlantic 10, alongside Xavier. There is a reason the NCAA tournament opens in Dayton. There is a true passion for college basketball in the city, and that passion -- along with the high school talent in western Ohio and the surrounding areas -- creates an expectation that the Flyers should be a contender every season for the league title and an NCAA tournament berth.

Is the young Archie Miller ready for such pressure?

"There's no question that he's ready," Sendek said. "He may be in his early 30s, but his basketball knowledge is more like he's in his early 50s. He's had basketball in his life, tagging along with his dad and his brother the minute he's been out of school. He didn't take a detour once he was done playing. The day he ended playing he was on track to become a coach."

Naturally, his brother concurs.

"He's actually more serious than me," Sean Miller said with a laugh.

Archie Miller said he's picked up on the attention to detail and organization that's required to run a program on a day-to-day basis from Sendek. From Matta, he said he learned how to deal with players, saying that the OSU head coach instructs his staff every morning to think about the players and make sure they feel good about being in the program.

"It's an amazing culture with Coach Matta in developing relationships with players," Archie said. "Sean allowed it to come full circle. He has great detail in his organization, too. He's totally committed to developing players and he put the finishing touches on it for me. Do I get this opportunity if I didn't work for everyone else? I don't think so. In the past 24 months, Sean makes you believe so much in what you do. He is my mentor."

Archie said he sees Dayton as a Top 25 job and embraces its mission to be a consistent winner.

"Dayton should be competing for a regular-season championship and be in the position to advance [in the NCAA tournament]," he said. "I have no reservations in my approach."

It's an approach that combines the best qualities of his local legend of a father, along with Matta, Sendek, and of course, his brother Sean.

"I get it all the time that we sound alike and that we have the same mannerisms," Archie said. "Well, he is my brother. I think we're allowed to look the same and talk the same and have the same habits. Although he is 6-3, 230 and I'm 5-9, 165-170.

"But I don't mind taking after him a bit."

Given Sean Miller's track record, that's good news for Dayton.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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