UD’s Miller: ‘We had to build a program’


Archie Miller wore a brand-new shirt to his interviews with the local media Sunday night. He said his wife Morgan picked it out.

Morgan Miller, whose Twitter handle is BballWife4Life, obviously has some taste. She took a photo of herself in a “Dayton High Life” T-shirt earlier this season, and it was retweeted 24 times.

This is the third season in Dayton for the Millers. Archie, 35, became the 19th coach in UD history in April 2011, replacing Brian Gregory, who left for Georgia Tech. Miller’s first two seasons featured plenty of ups and downs, but he and his staff laid the groundwork for what this season has become, bringing in two strong recruiting classes and two transfers and continuing to develop the last players from the Gregory era.

SPECIAL NCAA COVERAGE:

Even this season, fans have questioned the direction of the program. During the 1-5 stretch in January, one fan on the UDPride message board started a thread titled simply, “I’m out,” and wrote, “It’s been nice knowing you all. I trust someday UD will end up in the tournament, and I may check back then.”

Less than two months later, the Flyers (23-10) are in the NCAA tournament. They earned a No. 11 seed and will play No. 6 seed Ohio State (25-9) at 12:15 p.m. Thursday — the first of 16 second-round games that day — at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

Miller doesn’t hesitate to take the blame when he feels he made a mistake, such as when Dayton failed to get off a good shot in the final seconds against Saint Joseph’s in an Atlantic 10 quarterfinal loss Friday. However, he also deserves a lot of the credit for a 13-3 record against non-conference opponents and a run of nine wins in the last 10 regular-season games, a stretch that helped get the Flyers to the big dance for the first time since 2009.

“When I got the job, I was very fortunate Dr. (Dan) Curran and Tim (Wabler) gave a young guy a chance,” Miller said Sunday. “I can still remember sitting in the Marriott watching the Final Four when VCU and Butler were playing and saying, ‘Man, this place can do that.’ You always have those types of moments.

“To actually realize it and experience … we’ve done it the hard way. It wasn’t like we were given a golden parachute where we could just walk in and do it. We had to build it. We had to absorb departures. We had to build a team. We had to build a program. Our offseason approach had to get in place. To experience (Sunday), to watch our kids’ emotions, to watch some of administrators’ emotions, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

Practice time: The Flyers will practice at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo from noon to 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. Prior to that, they have media interviews at 11:20 and 11:35 a.m.

Dayton played at the same venue, when it was called HSBC Arena, in the 2004 NCAA tournament, losing 76-69 in overtime to DePaul.

Dream fulfilled: No one is more excited to play in the big dance than Dayton senior Devin Oliver. Here’s what he wrote on Twitter on Sunday after the announcement: “Dreams really do come true. This is an amazing moment. God is great for giving me the ability to play this game. Hard work, perseverance, and togetherness is what this team is all about. We aren’t just satisfied with going though, we want to win!”


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