ITH Super Happy Fun Time Coaching Search: Sean Miller

  • 03/26/2008 8:00 am in

smiller1.jpgKelvin is out the door and Dan is not our man, so that can only mean one thing: It’s coaching search time! Here’s a look at the candidates that could land in Bloomington. We’ll give you the pros, the cons and the bottom line. This morning: Xavier’s Sean Miller.

Pros: After serving three years as the top assistant to Thad Matta, Miller took control of the reigns at Xavier after Matta bolted for Ohio State and has compiled a 92-38 record in four seasons. The 39-year-old reached the Sweet 16 for the first time as a head coach with Saturday’s 85-78 win over Purdue. In his playing days, Miller was a point guard at Pittsburgh. He preaches defense and his club is allowing just 62.7 ppg this season. He seems to be the popular pick for those in the fanbase (alongside Tony Bennett of Washington State) who crave an “up and coming” coach. After all, Bob Knight was just that when he arrived in Bloomington at the age of 31 in 1971.

Cons: With Miller’s current deal at Xavier running through 2015-2016, would the university be willing to make the financial commitment to not only buy him out of his deal, but also reward him with a lucrative long term deal? That remains to be seen. You can be sure that the farther Xavier advances through March, the higher the price tag becomes for Miller. And other schools besides IU could come calling for his services. There is also a “buzz” that Miller would be more interested in coaching in the Big East given his playing background at Pittsburgh. He’s been described to me on several occasions by various people in the media as a “Big East guy.”

Bottom line: If Indiana wants to go young, Miller is right there with Bennett at the top of the list. Bennett might be slightly more attractive because he’d likely come at a lesser price, but if Miller makes it clear to the “blue ribbon” committee that he’s interested in IU, he’ll be given serious consideration. Most Indiana fans would be thrilled to have Miller at the helm and rightfully so: he can flat out coach.

This afternoon, PostmanE will break down Bruce Pearl of Tennessee.

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  • xxBHxx

    He's in my top 3 for sure.

  • Definitely a great possibility. I like him maybe a little more than Bennett because his defensive coaching and ability to win games will endear to the IU fan base. Yes, he has that Big East “slickness”, but that may be just what we need to get recruits to B-TOWN.

  • easy

    Bennett's defense is better than Miller's in a top tier conference. In fact, Miller stole the Wash. St. system: the Pack Line Defense. It's good stuff. I just stole it and installed with my AAU team myself.

    Anyway I've heard mixed reviews on Miller's personality. Not sure what to believe, but I know he can coach. I'd support the hire, but personally would prefer Bennett. Bennett should be done vs. UNC and Miller should be moving on. So maybe we will contact Bennett and get something done….probably not until we contact “the big fish.”

  • Kelin Blab

    He CAN flat out coach.

  • xxZPxx

    Bennett in '08/'09! Yes, we can!

  • RD21

    I think Miller is a better choice over Bennett. Yeah, Bennett has done extremely well with his dad's players (Bruce Webber did well with Self's players, now look at that shitty place), so I would like to see how he does with his own recruits. I am sure he had help with recruiting because he was there, but you play for the head coach. However, even though I like Miller better, I think because of his contract, IU will only be able to offer Bennett because of the money situation. Both are solid candidates so it really is a win win situation.

  • xfactor9600

    Miller has a great system in place at Xavier. I'm not sure what issues anyone could have with his personality either. He's been a great representative of Xavier University as its' basketball coach. I don't think at the end of the day that most IU fans would want him, because he doesn't have the pop off the page “name” appeal.

    I believe Miller will probably be back on the Xavier sidelines next season and Tony Bennett will be in Bloomington.

  • easy

    That's why I said I heard mixed things. I honestly don't know which to believe so I just kind of ignored it, and would welcome the hire. The fact that the AD said he would come to IU and that he said Miller is the best Xavier coach in terms of Xs and Os is encouraging. I've heard that he's great on campus and very popular, as you said. I've heard he's not well liked by some in the Athletic Dept. and other things along those lines. I don't really want to put out the rumor because it's kind of vicious and I have zero idea if it's true. I just heard it from someone in Cincy.

  • xfactor9600

    I've never heard that Miller's not well-liked in the Athletic Department. Where did you hear Bobinski (the AD) would like to come to IU?

  • easy

    I meant the AD said Miller would go if we called. And maybe what I heard about Miller was just someone with an axe to grind. Everything else I've heard has been good really.

  • I think one thing that's been overlooked a bit (or not) is that Xavier won the Atlantic XIV this season and not one of Xavier's playes was named to first-team all-conference. For me, that speaks volumes about getting guys to set their egos aside, play as a team, gel as a whole, and maximize the amount of talent each player has. Also, aren't all five starters averaging in double-figures? This, again, speaks to a system in which the team is valued over the individual in which, I would hope, we would see less “taking the leash off” talented players and more “develop the talented players into national-player-of-the-year caliber players”.

  • JerryCT

    I like Miller. I can accept Miller. He can x and o. But lets get detailed.

    1. No record of top 100 recruits, maybe this is why all players average lower numbers
    – Butch, Harris, Tucker from Bennett
    2. Program was built by others before him ( Matta, Prosser, Gillen and another guy )
    – Bennett builds his own, took WSU FROM LAST in Pac-10 in 2 seasons
    3. Narrow recruiting ; 8 players from Ohio , 2 from Indianapolis out of 13
    – Bennett, 2 from down under, 1 Germany, 1 Serbia, Ore, Wash, Ca, Co, Hi
    4. “Tom Crean- like ” on the sideline, I am biased against this distraction
    5. Lost by 22 to ASU and 20 to Temple
    – Bennett worst loss by 12, beat ASU 2 times, 1 loss to worse team not 5 to worse teams
    6. Probably lose the hair battle to Painter or Weber
    – Bennett wins the hair battle

    I would rank him no higher than 5th behind Bennett, Wright, Dixon, Unknown tier#1 and move him up as others drop off.

  • dale11

    i'm not sure what narrow recruiting has to do with anything…knight never left the indiana, ohio area. davis brought in great recruits, guys from australia, texas, florida, maryland…all over. Just think if davis never left the state of indiana to recruit…sean may, dominic james, mike conley, greg oden, josh mcroberts, george hill, courtney lee, all the kids from purdue and butler, mix them in with the kids from indiana he did get and i dont think that team would lose. I would take a guy like miller that can recruit indiana

  • If one more person says something about recruiting big time guys, I'm going to lose it. In this day in age in college basketball, you need people who are unselfish and understand how to PLAY BASKETBALL. You don't get extra points for jumping, or athleticism (which is not even a word but ESPN overuses it. It's athletic ability.) although it helps. With the development of AAU, EVERYONE is good. It's not hard to recruit. So please, say something else.

  • Kelin Blab

    Yeah that 5 star recruiting stuff went down the toilet for me this year…….they are nice to have but there are a ton of good teams…(Butler, PU, Xavier, Tennesee) who don't have all of these one and done players……also, if Miller loaded up Indiana U. with Indiana kids, I would not have a problem with it because it has worked for Butler and PU and give me…..Van Treese, Dominique Fergunson, Thomas, Jordan Manuel, and some other good Indiana kids and we will compete…..

  • BrianK

    I agree with you all to an extent but you do have to at least get some 4 star (5 star once in awhile wouldn't hurt) recruits in to win a championship.
    On the hair thing, don't you think MIller and Bennett are kinda Pitino-isk lol in their look. I'm leaning towards Bennett now. I've been on Miller's side most of the time but I have been swayed.

  • ronb

    Bennett's defense was #2 in the nation. When you rebuild you start with defense which is
    what this last team needed. My problem with Miller goes back to the IU-Xavier game this
    year. You guys need to think about how his players acted in that game. They talked trash
    the whole game beating their chests and being disrespectful to IU players and coaches.
    I don't want a coach that will not control his players. Maybe his team was a reflection of him? This did not set well with many of you or I when it happened. Go back and look at the game or read some the articles and comments. There is no question he can coach
    but we don't need another head case at IU.

  • ronb

    BIG A or someone….. Why do my posts come out with broken lines like that? I am not a computer expert and i could use some help. Thanks

  • xfactor9600

    If you guys want Bennett badly enough, I say take him. You'll get no complaints from Xavier fans.

  • xfactor9600

    1. See the 2008 recruiting class (some of the players will look familiar as IU heavily recruited some of them).
    2. Prosser last coached a game in 2000 for Xavier, I have no idea how's that's helped Miller at all. Gillen hasn't coached at X since the mid 90's Miller was Matta's head recruiter at Xavier. He recruited all of the Seniors on the team, not Matta.. Furthermore, Miller brought in all of the bench players and Drew Lavender from Oklahoma.
    3. The recruiting class this year has one from Pennsylvania, One from New York, One from michgian, and one from Ohio. I guess you go where the good players are.
    4. Miller is passionate. Knight was passionate on the sidelines.
    5. Lost a road game to ASU during a tough four game stretch. Then lost to a conference rival. If that disqualifies Miller, we'll gladly keep him.

  • JerryCT

    I cannot follow the logic.

    Are you sayinig that given 2 good coaches( Miller vs Matta, Miller vs Dixon, Miller vs Wright) you want the one with no record of top 100 recruits ? You would take Miller's freshman walk on from Indianapolis vs Gordon ? Miller over Matta, Dixon or Wright any day ?

    Are you saying it is easy to recruit Indiana kids against UNC, Duke, Ohio State , Purdue, ND, MSU, Florida,KY ? Call Senderhoff and ask him and put me on the 3 way

    Are you saying if you lose Sean May to UNC you take what you can get from Indiana and not go to Alabama to get DJ ?

    Are you saying that you are satisfied with “competing” instead of winning ? Does IU losing to ASU by 22 , Temple by 20 and 3 other losses to worse teams sound good to you ?

    SHEEEESSH. He is a good coach but lets put him in perspective for petes sake

  • Knight did leave Ohio and Indiana, lest we forget Lou Henson accusing him of “raping the state of Illinois”.

  • Just answer this question for me, would you send your kid to play for Mike Davis? Exactly! That's the reason Indiana kids don't go to IU. Sampson, same thing. Mind you IU has sucked for the since the early to mid 90's…when most of these kids were 5 -7 years old. You people need to face the fact that IU has to WORK to become relevant again. Not b/c some old white guys said it's a big time job (Vitale, Phelps).

    This is why Dakich is a good choice along with Bennet. You need someone to BUILD the program. Does anyone understand how much money IU has been paying to fired coaches? They can't afford anything else.

  • It's not a bad thing to recruit a 5-star player. It's a bad thing to recruit a 5-star player and then do nothing with him. Telling him to just go out there isn't coaching. That's why we didn't see unnamed 5-star player develop at all.

  • Are you hitting return at the end of your lines? I know that my text sometimes stretches further than the box shows, but if you keep typing it will eventually wrap around and you don't need to hit return at the end of lines just to keep going.

  • JerryCT

    I went back to the Bennett posts and read the last post again which says he was offered Iowa and Michigan and turned them down.

    Does this mean he was chosen over Licliter and Bielein ?

    Has mIller turned down similar jobs recently ?? Anyone know ?

  • xfactor9600

    Miller was contacted by Michigan, but did not accept an interview.

  • Kelin Blab

    Ronb I was at that game and there were some small skirmishes but it was because Xavier wanted the game more than IU and played with some emotion. Here is a team that began the season unranked and I think they wanted to prove something….so they played physical and with some emotion….IU couldn't match there intensity. Yes I want Sean Miller.

  • More people than the “old white guys” consider Indiana a top flight job. Nationally, it's still viewed as being one of the top tier programs. Are they as relevant as they were in the 80s and early 90s? No, but there's been a huge amount of…attrition, we'll say…in the past 10 years.

    But the argument that Indiana can't compete for Indiana kids against Duke and UNC is poor logic, at best. Did they lose McRoberts? Yes. But McRoberts also bolted for the NBA AND is one of the most hated Duke players by Duke fans, ever. So, losing McRoberts isn't a bad thing. Sean May? Someone who had recently been turned outside of the program had a hand in that. Tyler Zeller? There was a bit of a question about the coach this past fall breaking the rules. Harongody? Wasn't even recruited by Davis. I think the same could be said for James.

    Having a young coach that has the backing of the athletic department for a long-term building of a program will help to stabilize the situation at Indiana and help to bring in more of the Indiana kids and most likely other top-flight players from the area. Lest you forget, Matt Painter has been recruiting Indiana kids against those same schools, and yet he's somehow been able to secure them for the program.

  • Not only can he coach, but he's smart, too.

  • Painter gets them b/c parents want to send their kids to play for him. He's a solid dude

  • Ryan_Btown

    Kind of like the Democratic primaries :)…Didn't mean to open up politics but I saw “yes, we can” and it made me think of it.

  • BrianK

    DD is a good choice? ou have got to be kidding? Why? What has he done? He's honest? He's and IU guy? So am I but do you want me coaching? NO.

  • splenda

    It isn't quite fair to say that we won with his dad's players. When Dick Bennett went to Wazzou, he did so for two reasons: he wanted to coach again and he wanted to give his son a chance to get a D1 coaching job in a bigtime conference. Tony was the lead recruiter and everyone he recruited knew that he was going to be the coach before the four years were out. Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver, etc. were Tony Bennett recruits. Between the current class of Wazzou seniors and Tucker/Harris/Butch at Wisconsin, Tony's recruiting bona fides are well established.

  • Ryan_Btown

    Knight does say that recruiting starts 6 hours from campus…he said it on ESPN. So he does stay close to home. But how has Knight faired on this new college basketball scene? I mean, let's not praise a man's recruiting style when one of his players won his spot on the team by competing in a reality tv show.

    I love the man so I'll go no further on Knight the sell-out.

  • ALH_00

    Xavier is really good, despite their location and conference. I give Miller alot of credit, and IU would do well to get him to B-town. I like reading all of the comments, but the negative ones don't seem to add up against the simple fact that Miller is a successful coach just down the road who MAY be willing to step into a higher profile job. And, the timing may be right given that his team is so senior dominated. He most definitely should be on the short list.

  • Ryan_Btown

    I know that we saved an awful lot of money in the Sampson deal. And I know that every year (except for two years when we went 29-29 under Davis) IU is consistently in the top 25 for at least half the season. So don't tell me they're irrelevant. There's probably only 15 other teams that can say that EVERY SINGLE YEAR they are in the top 25 most the season. We're down compared to our standards as far as competing deep into the tournament but I'll just reference one of Arkansas' players when asked about playing Indiana in the first round.

    -“How the heck did Indiana fall to an 8 seed.”

  • southsidehitmen

    I know this weekends games should have no real barring on anything, but I will be watching Washington State – UNC and Xavier – West Virginia with great interest.

    Obviously Bennet is behind the 8 ball a little more than Miller, as Miller's team is playing an upset minded team while Bennet and Wash. State are playing a total juggernaut.

    The one thing I will say about Miller is that his teams have played with an incredible amount of poise the first two games. Both times his teams fell behind early, but stayed within themselves and came back to win.

    Bennet's teams just beat the living piss out of people. I'm not sure which is more impressive.

  • xfactor9600

    One thing IU fans might not be aware of is that Miller has X's best ever (at least that's what most people think) recruiting class coming in. There's a certain feeling he may not want to leave because of it. Personally, i think he should at least listen if IU calls, and then take it from there.

  • easy

    I want to see them both too, but unfortunately they're basically on at the same time. That means (I'm assuming) we'll get Xavier here in Bloomington.

    Personally, I'm more impressed with how dominant WSU has been. I have watched them a few times this year and they never give up. To hold a Big East team that was Top 25 basically all year, and one of the top offensive teams in the country to 41 points (40 below their average!) is astounding to me. IMO Xavier won two games they should win. Not to take anything away from who they beat but X has a lot of seniors and played a lot of freshmen (really that speaks to how good Painter and his young Boilers are).

    I'm excited to see what gives with the UNC-WSU game. I expect UNC to win but if WSU makes it close or keeps UNC well below their average I would be extremely impressed. Miller and Xavier should win this game, and what they do vs. UCLA should be interesting. That would be a good game.

  • easy

    I take it you are our resident expert on Xavier. So, in your opinion how would Miller fair at IU? Is he better than Matta? Could he win a National Championship? Just interested in your thoughts on the situation since you seem to have watched Miller more than most of us.

  • Ryan_Btown

    I agree with the relentlessness you spoke of. I felt we really missed that this year. Even getting up by 20, we might let the lead go to 8 or 10. And against teams that were decent but not good, we'd just keep that 6-12 point margin all game instead of putting them away. We really missed that killer instinct. I'm not advocating total annihilation of teams but eliminating any glimpse of hope they may have isn't a bad thing in my opinion.

  • I feel like I'm taking crazy Pills here!!! If IU starts RUNNING AN OFFENSE, which has not happened in the last 10 years, the players hustle, and the type of player is someone who hustles, doesn't complain, and is a half-way decent person, the fans will support IU ball.

    You don't need some big time name. I'm an IU grad and I dislike IU basketball. I don't care if we have been ranked. It is extremely boring basketball to watch. Don't tell me that you have been pleased watching IU play this past decade. Coaching is not brain surgery.

  • Ryan_Btown

    Then maybe you should take up the profession…

  • xfactor9600

    Yup I have two degrees from X and a graduate degree from IU. So i'm fans of both.

    Is Miller better than Matta? I think so. Sean was a hardnosed player in the Big East and that mentality has transferred to his coaching. He stated recently that he wished he was playing in the tournament instead of coaching in it. His teams play great defense generally. Miller recruits well. He tends to stick to the East Coast and Midwest, but i think his overall goal is to go where the talent is. He's heavily recruiting Georgia right now for the 2009 class.

    I believe (perhaps foolishly) that in this day and age, Miller can win a title at Xavier. SO of course i think he can win one at IU.

    The one thing that may deter most IU fans is the fact that he's not a big name, and he doesn't have that pop of the page appeal to the casual fan. But if he's your coach, your team will be competitive, play for the post season, and graduate players.

  • easy

    Sounds good to me. And “pop off the page” names are trumped by wins. I think most people who actually KNOW basketball certainly know who Sean Miller is. Hopefully if he gets the job he doesn't want to bolt for the Big East or something down the line.

    I almost went to Xavier, and I may still go there as a grad student. Thanks for the post and assessment. I'm definitely pulling for Xavier to do well.

  • BrianK

    Coaching isn't easy either or we wouldn't be complaining about our past 2 coaches. I coached middle school age kids in football. To be a good coach isn't just about making x's and o's.

  • Raymond219

    On top of that, Dick's last year as a coach was not exactly one to be remembered. I believe they only won around 13 games that year and I am almost positive they finished last in the Pac 10. Having his “dad's” players should make his accomplishments even more special.

  • xfactor9600

    Actually according to the coverage map i've seen… a good portion of IU will see WSU

  • oday

    No doubt he is a good coach, but he has said before that he will not coach against Thad Matta. If this is true, it would be useless to pursue him.