After whirlwind month, Miller settling into Indiana job
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Archie Miller left the Assembly Hall suite Tuesday, walked down a few steps and immediately started snapping cellphone photos of the empty arena.
It gave Indiana's coach a clear perspective on his new job.
Directly across from Miller were five NCAA championship banners hanging from the rafters. When he returned to the suite, he was surrounded by reminders from the Hoosiers' 1975-76 undefeated championship team. So instead of downplaying Indiana's exceedingly high expectations, Miller embraced them and the work needed to achieve those goals.
''What you emphasize every day you're going to get in many ways, and I think taking care of the basketball is a huge thing,'' he told a small group of local reporters. ''Not just by your point guard or your perimeter people. It's everyone has to value the ball, and it starts every day with your practice habits and the things that you emphasize.''
There's plenty for fans to like about Miller.
Many see Miller's blunt, easily understandable language as a refreshing change. They also like the fact that Miller has not minced words about his desire to cut down on the turnovers and play better defense, too. And Miller's affinity for recruiting the richly talented state of Indiana first has gone over well inside and outside the locker room.
''The lifeblood of Indiana basketball, since I've been around, has been getting the Indiana kids,'' new assistant coach Ed Schilling said.
Miller, meanwhile, is just trying to catch his breath after a whirlwind first month on the job.
First, he hired a coaching staff with a decidedly Dayton flavor. The new assistants include Tom Ostrom, who followed Miller from Dayton after interviewing to become Miller's successor.
Over the past few weeks, Miller tracked the players' progress throughout their own workouts.
He's met with former Indiana players and other prominent figures associated with the program and even hit the recruiting trail, hoping to rebrand the Hoosiers' image among the Indiana high school coaches who can play such a key role in helping their best players make college choices.
To succeed, Miller needs more than talent.
The bigger project begins in earnest over the next couple of months, as Miller instills his system, focuses on fundamentals and tries to figure out how to best use his roster.
''I feel like this will be a blueprint to build off of,'' Miller said. ''It won't be one that we're restricted. We're going to play the way we want to play.''
What exactly that looks like isn't entirely clear.
Four players - OG Anunoby, James Blackmon Jr., Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson - have declared for the NBA draft.
Anunoby has hired an agent and is projected to go in the first round. The other three aren't expected to go until at least the second - if at all.
Miller said Tuesday that Blackmon, Bryant and Johnson are waiting to find out if they'll receive NBA draft combine invites. Even if they don't, Miller expects all three to continue to collect information before making their decisions. If any of those three return to school, it could give the Hoosiers a different look, would add depth to the lineup and should assist in the transition to Miller's new style.
Nobody expects it to happen overnight.
''You have to have a level of talent to play at Indiana and the Big Ten to succeed, but you also have to find a guy who the coaching staff, and most importantly Coach Miller connects with, and who will fit and kind of mesh with his personality,'' Ostrom said. ''Things like hard work and character and passion, those are all talents as well. It's not about running and jumping and shooting, which are very important as well.''
But inside the locker room, everyone believes Miller will soon be adding banners to Assembly Hall.
''My whole thing was I want to work for Archie,'' new assistant Bruiser Flint said. ''I think he can get it done, and why not get it done at one of the best places you possibly can get it done at it?''
More AP college basketball: www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 .