With rumors running rampant after Tom Crean’s firing that the newly open position could be going to a number of top names in the business, one name kept coming up: former IU sharp shooter and current UCLA coach Steve Alford. As much as I would like to have Alford “back home,” I’m happy with the approach IU Athletic Director Fred Glass took after the firing. He did not take the easy road and rush into a hire; instead, he went with the better basketball mind and, personally, the better candidate, Archie Miller.
In his six seasons as Dayton’s head coach, Miller went 139-63. Miller’s teams appeared in the NCAA tournament four of his six years there and reached the Elite Eight in 2014. After the Elite Eight run, he returned with a depleted roster in 2015–one without a player over 6’6″–and still made it to the Round of 32.
In Alford’s 11-year coaching career, he has never made it past the Sweet 16 and reached that just four times. Though everyone can say, “Well, Steve would help with in-state recruiting,” I say with what the university has had the past several years, just talking to these kids could help. With only three Mr. Basketball’s coming to the university in the last nine years, that is unacceptable for Indiana. Not to mention the other countless top recruits Crean missed out on: CJ Walker, Kris Wilkes, Trevon Bluiett and Bryant McIntosh, just to name a few.
During Miller’s tenure at Dayton, he recruited this state numerous times. Not only that, but like he said in his press conference, “The roots are here.” Just look at the rosters of almost every team in the tournament and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a team without a player from an Indiana high school.
So whether you wanted the “Indiana guy” or not, I strongly believe we got one in Miller. Just remember, an Indiana team chose a Miller over Alford in 1987 and that worked out just fine.