A statistical look at Archie Miller’s Dayton teams

  • 03/29/2017 9:47 am in

Indiana announced Archie Miller as its 29th coach in program history on Monday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Miller talked at length about the mindset and style of play he plans to implement in Bloomington in his press conference, using “toughness” and “attacking mentality” to describe his philosophy.

A deep statistical dive into Miller’s Dayton teams reveals plenty in terms of what fans can expect from his teams in the coming years at Indiana.

First and foremost, Miller’s abilities as an offensive coach have probably been understated. In five of his six years at Dayton, his teams posted an adjusted offensive efficiency inside the top 75 nationally, according to Ken Pomeroy. In four of the seasons, the Flyers ranked in the top 53 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. These numbers are impressive, particularly without access to five-star talent.

One difference that really jumps out when comparing Dayton’s teams to Indiana in recent seasons is getting to the foul line. Over the last three seasons, Dayton ranked in the top 75 nationally in free throw rate (FTA/FGA). In two of those seasons, Dayton was in the top 10 nationally, which confirms Miller’s “attacking mentality” statement. Miller’s teams strive to be physical and it’s a successful formula.

Getting to the foul line was a strength for Tom Crean’s Indiana teams in both 2011-12 and 2012-13, but in Crean’s final three seasons, IU didn’t rank in the top 200 in free throw rate. And when Indiana wasn’t hitting from the perimeter, the inability to get to the foul line became a major offensive issue.

The offensive rebounding philosophy for Miller is also much different than Crean’s Indiana teams. While his first three Dayton teams all ranked in the top 100 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, none of his final three Flyer teams ranked in the top 200. Some of it could be personnel based, but the lower offensive rebounding percentage number suggests Miller wants his teams to get back and avoid giving up easy transition points.

One other core offensive difference is the high assist percentage for Miller’s teams at Dayton. The Flyers were in the top 60 nationally in assist percentage the last three seasons and twice ranked in the top 30. Dayton didn’t play the same uptempo pace that Indiana’s teams under Crean played, but getting quality shots in transition was a major emphasis. Dayton ranked in the 68th percentile nationally this past season in transition offensive, according to Synergy Sports, while Indiana was just in the 35th percentile. When Miller’s teams get on the run, efficiency is important.

Defensively, Miller’s Dayton teams were very good once his system was established. The Flyers ranked in the top 41 in adjusted defensive efficiency in his each of his last three seasons at Dayton, according to Ken Pomeroy.

Dayton ranked in the top 100 the last four seasons in defensive rebounding percentage and this past season, the Flyers ranked in the top 40 nationally in forcing turnovers. In two of the last three seasons, Indiana was outside of the top 300 nationally in forcing turnovers and the points off of turnovers differential was a major storyline of Indiana’s downfall this past season.

Miller plays man-to-man exclusively and this past season, the Flyers were in the 81st percentile nationally with their man defense according to Synergy Sports.

Dayton also did a solid job in two of Miller’s final three seasons of defending without fouling, ranking in the top 100 in both 2014-15 and 2015-16 in opponent free throw rate.

As was the case with Miller’s early Dayton teams, there’s likely to be some statistical variation in his early Indiana seasons as the players adjust to his style and Miller adjusts to the personnel he inherited. But his body of work at Dayton confirms that words like “toughness” and “attacking mentality” weren’t just buzz words used to win the press conference.

Filed to:

  • Yeah, I posted a long-winded tome saying essentially the same thing, before I read yours. 🙂 Agreed, obviously.

  • Arch Puddington

    Some years yes, some no. Here are Kenpom’s final rankings for each program for the last four years:

    2017: IU — 45, Dayton –39
    2016 IU — 11, Dayton –59
    2015: IU — 48, Dayton — 42
    2014: IU — 63, Dayton — 42

    So for three of the last four years, Dayton was figured as the better team by Kenpom. And in as much as Dayton made the tournament all four of those years — all four times with an at-large bid, no less — whereas IU missed it twice, and in as much as Dayton made an Elite 8 whereas IU did not make it past the Sweet 16 during those years, it is essentially a lock: for all the talent that IU has had, Dayton has had the better program over the last four years.

  • marcusgresham

    Part of the problem, and I’ve said this before, is that Crean got a lot of really good kids. While they were good, well-mannered, polite kids, a lot of them tended to be somewhat introverted and they didn’t always have that little bit of meanness that allowed them to get in one another’s face when needed. Yogi developed it. Will Sheehey had it. I don’t know that many of the guys the last few seasons did, though.

  • marcusgresham

    Those numbers indicate an offense that is able to score almost as efficiently as the previous administration with far less turnovers and defend the ball at an astronomically more efficient rate. I think that’s the definition of “do(ing) better.” Far better.

  • KingofKentucky

    You’re like the Socrates of ITH!

  • Hoosier89

    You can be polite and introverted off the court and mean on it. I certainly fit into that mold.

  • I’ve always thought of myself as more like Aristotle, but I’ll take that too.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    “The adjustments are to say “against an average team, this team’s offensive would be. . .” and to make such comparisons meaningful.

    Exactly! KenPom isn’t really suggesting that Dayton would have scored 1.12 PPP against ANY opponent, but against an average opponent. Similarly, KP isn’t suggesting that Dayton would have held UCLA to 0.96 PPP defensively.

    The comparison isn’t between Dayton and Indiana, but rather how Dayton and Indiana would have been projected to do against the same, average opponent. If Dayton and Indiana played, those numbers aren’t meaningless, but they aren’t suggesting that is what each team would accomplish against one another.

  • marcusgresham

    I’m not a ll saying it isn’t a good thing to be polite; i’m just saying I don’t think confrontation with peers is something with which a lot of these guys are comfortable.

  • marcusgresham

    Kentucky does and they’re making death threats to officials.

  • marcusgresham

    Per Sagarin: SOS–Indiana 32, Dayton 83
    Per KenPom: SOS–Indiana 36, Dayton 82

    Not a huge difference when you consider there are 351 teams in D-1.

  • marcusgresham

    The article seemed to indicate that IU won’t likely be as strong on the offensive glass, as Miller prefers his team get back on defense to avoid giving up easy baskets.
    One other thing that I think might not be quite as strong is three-point shooting, as the “Shot Doctor” isn’t going to be around any longer. That being said, that might not be as big of an issue since we should expect a greater emphasis on getting to the free throw line. That would indicate less dependence on outside shooting.

  • marcusgresham

    Of course not.
    He has until November. 😉

  • marcusgresham

    Maybe not top-50, but I’d suspect a marked improvement from the last couple of years, nonetheless.

  • marcusgresham

    I don’t know if there are going to be changes across the board. Miller’s years at Dayton seem to indicate a willingness and ability on his part to adapt to his team’s strengths. Given IU’s general success offensively, I think he’ll try to stick with the things they’ve done well and build off that. The biggest change will be on the other end of the floor.

  • marcusgresham

    OG and Morgan. Juwan gets overlooked a lot, but he’s pretty damn versatile.

  • marcusgresham

    “Can a coach can come into a program and take over players who were taught to play one way, and in the time allotted get them playing well in a completely new system?”
    That’s what happens every year–you get new players that have to integrate. Sure, he’ll have to work with the entire roster instead of a few guys, but this is a pretty intelligent group of guys.
    Things may not be great from the start, but by the time they get deep into conference play I think it’ll be better than OK.

  • marcusgresham

    “Dayton isn’t Miss Valley St.”
    Maybe that’s why IU hasn’t scheduled Dayton recently.

  • I think that’s a fair expectation.

  • Most teams have a mix of new and experienced players. I would submit, though, that players who have been coached by in college for a couple of years are in a more challenging position even than freshman. They not only have new things to learn, but things to unlearn.

    I won’t debate it too much, though, because I do agree that by some point in the B1G he’ll have had time to implement some kind of system and I do believe in many ways it will be more fundamentally sound than we’ve seen. So the team will definitely be better by the end of the season than at the beginning, which seems to be a hallmark of Archie’s teams.

  • rob salway

    See that Newkirk will finish at IU. Anyone heard any other player news?

  • TheFailingNYT

    I can agree to the statistics being used like this. Dayton would have been expected to fare better against an average team than IU in 3 of 4 years, making them a better program (if things like “winning” are more important to you than funny facial expressions).

    I was generalizing based on what others said in my last sentence, I admit I did not check the facts myself (in part because I allowed my KenPom subscription to expire when I stopped caring). Thanks for calling me on it and providing the information.

  • Arch Puddington

    Just to be clear, I wasn’t trying to call you out. I just wanted to point out the top line of a comparison that had gotten a bit bogged down in details (albeit some very important details).

  • Fifty-fifty ball

    While I agree, sometimes it might be easier to coach 3 star talent or less simply because of ego. That said I totally agree with the theory that with better talent one should expect positive results.

  • Burt Macklin

    Fair point, but I don’t think Archie is going to target anyone who isn’t going to buy into his system. Hopefully there are a fair share of top level guys who will.

  • TomJameson

    This … What Adam said … IULore, this is the point that refutes your point. All things are not going to be equal, Archie will be the same coach that gets more out of his players than most do. But now, his players and resources are so much more and of a lot higher quality.

    That’s the difference between 5 guys playing basketball, and 1 team playing basketball.

  • david r

    Oops, we accidentallly hired the best!

  • iubase

    Yup that’s what I was trying to say. Fewer TOS, more assists, more def rebounds, forcing more TOs, and better D should translate into a win. By the way – I like the shades on that dog.

  • Hey, are you saying I look like a dog?!?

  • kaponya44

    This guy (you) gets it! +1

  • FWHoosier

    Zero point to this question other than starting an argument. Back to work -no time for that.