We’ll Just Have to See How it Plays Out

As you know, we have a new coach. Archie Miller was hired a couple of weeks ago now from Dayton to replace Tom Crean. And while the public reaction in the press and on various social media platforms has been glowing, I am officially in 100% wait and see mode.

Not because I don’t think Miller is a good coach or a good hire. I think he’s probably both, but I’m going to need to see what he does before I have any real feelings one way or another.

I watched his press conference last week and while everyone seemed to be very impressed, I was left feeling pretty meh. Granted, I was going through some pretty high stress stuff as it was happening that made this press conference the least important thing in the world to me at the time, but I came away with two observations.

  1. He’s short
  2. No one will accuse him of clapping too much on the sidelines.

Neither of those things matter at all, except that a lot of people bagged on Crean for his excitability, so Miller’s incredibly low-key delivery must have pleased them a great deal.

Fred Glass said, “we don’t want to win the press conference.” And I agree. He seemed to say the right things, but I have no idea what he’ll actually do, so I’ll just wait a bit.

So far, what he’s done is seemingly keep the current team in place. Minus OG and possibly James, both of whom were strong leans to test the draft waters regardless -no word yet on Thomas.

He’s met with the recruits and convinced Al Durham to stay – no word yet on the other two. But, if the people who wanted Crean fired are to be believed, he couldn’t recruit worth a damn anymore, so should we all be jumping up and down and doing summersaults if Miller convinces them to stay?

He needed to recruit his own team first and he seems to have done that. He’s certainly better positioned by Crean than Crean was by Sampson, so that’s good. But, that has much more to do with the departing coaches than the incoming ones, so I’ll just wait and see how Miller does.

He’s also apparently hired a coaching staff. Though no official announcement has yet been made, or press conference scheduled, reports from over the weekend are that his assistant coaches will be Bruiser Flint, Ed Schilling, and Tom Ostrom.

And the press has thrown back their legs and polluted their pants in excitement.

Me? Meh.

Here’s why.

  1. I am sufficiently unfamiliar with their bodies of work to have a valid opinion about how well they coach or recruit. I’ve had the same reaction to all of our assistant coaching hires as I’ve had the same knowledge of those coaches as of these. People seem excited, so I’m happy for them.
  2. I do have some concerns, however. Let me explain.

When Tom Crean was hired there was one priority above all else. Hire a good coach who will run a clean program. Crean had to rebuild IU basketball from the ground up and run the program 100% above board. He did the former, and with the exception of almost everyone from “The Movement” basically did the latter.

Miller has been hired to win. No one is talking publicly about doing things the right way. At least not very much. They are focused on recruiting and winning. And this is fine, but if your sole focus is on the results, the how you do it can get left behind.

Now, I have no inkling that Miller is Sampson-level crooked. I’m not even hinting at it.

But you know where both Flint and Schilling coached? You know who they worked for? You know when they worked for him?

Here’s a hint: UMass. For Calipari. The season they didn’t go to the Final Four after all because of Marcus Camby getting paid. Which, I’m sure had as much to do with them as it did with Cal (officially nothing, probably everything).

I officially don’t like this. And you don’t either if you’re concerned with more than just winning.

You hate Calipari. I know you do. You’ve called him a cheater for 20 years. We all have. We’re right. Why do we want coaches from his tree?

Oh, and Ostrom coached under John Pelphrey at Arkansas. More UK connections. Puke.

Now, all of these coaches may be wonderful. What do I know?

But, right now, I am at best ambivalent and at worst a little wary.

The things we’re worried about as a program now are very different than the things we were worried about in 2008, which is a very good thing – thanks Tom Crean -, but running a clean program and living up to the standards of not being UK is still important. At least it is to me.

We’ll have to wait and see if it is to Miller, Glass, and company.

Jeff Taylor