Miller family ready for more travel


Dayton vs. Oklahoma, 6:10 p.m., TNT, 95.7, 1290

The Dayton Flyers won a basketball game early Saturday morning. The true star of the show, however, might have been the little girl in the first row across the court from their bench.

Archie Miller’s 10-year-old daughter Leah didn’t get to bed until after 1 a.m., not long after the No. 11 seed Flyers finished off No. 6 seed Providence 66-53 at Nationwide Arena. At 10 the next morning, Leah competed in a gymnastics meet in Hilliard and took first place.

“She takes after her mother,” Archie said Saturday.

The Millers hope their winning streak continues at 6:10 p.m. today when Dayton (27-8) plays No. 3 seed Oklahoma (23-10) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Expect Morgan Miller, Archie’s wife and always one of the more animated fans in the stands, and John Miller, Archie’s dad, to join Leah in the same spot at Nationwide Arena.

Archie wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When you get to do this thing the way we’re doing it, it’s so stressful and you’re away a lot,” Miller said. “When you’re able to compete on this type of stage and your family can be a part of it, you want them to enjoy it as much as you. I get a kick out of Leah and them wanting to be involved because they’re not around practices a lot. When they do show up, they’re excited to be there.”

The Millers traveled to Buffalo, N.Y., for the first two rounds last season and would love to return to the state for the Sweet 16 later this week. If the Flyers beat the Sooners, they will play at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., on Friday.

Dayton beat No. 6 seed Ohio State and No. 3 seed Syracuse to reach the Sweet 16 last season. It’s trying to take the same path this March, but beating Oklahoma will be no small feat.

“Off the top of my head, I don’t believe we’ve seen anything like Oklahoma,” Miller said. “I think their defense is outstanding. That’s the quickest perimeter defense that we’ve seen, comparable to even a VCU. They’re very good on the ball.

“I think they do a great job of pushing things down. They don’t give you your normal reads that you’re able to get. And their front court is very mobile. So defensively they’re very good. That’s where I’m concerned.”

Dayton defended the Big East Co-Player of the Year, Providence’s Kris Dunn, well on Friday. Now they prepare for the Big 12 Player of the Year, 6-foot-4 junior guard Buddy Hield. The Freeport, Bahamas, native led the conference with 17.5 points per game. He’s one of 15 finalists for the Wooden Award.

Oklahoma, while not especially tall with no key players taller than 6-9, also has a strong inside presence.

TaShawn Thomas, a 6-8 forward, transferred from Houston to Oklahoma for his senior year and was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. He averages 11.3 points and 6.5 rebounds. Ryan Spangler, a junior who started his career at Gonzaga, averages 10.0 points and 8.0 rebounds.

“We try to throw it inside,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “We always do — not just because we’re that much bigger than Dayton. With TaShawn and Ryan in there, we love to establish inside and play inside/out. That’s easier said than done against a club that’s as quick as they are. Their perimeter guys do a great job of helping on the post and digging back in there and getting steals and deflections.”

This will be Dayton’s sixth game in 10 days. The Flyers are 4-1 in the stretch so far, having won two games at the Atlantic 10 tournament and two now in the NCAA Tournament. They haven’t shown any signs of slowing down.

“We feel good,” Dayton guard Scoochie Smith said. “Getting a win and having another chance to try to survive and advance, we get rejuvenated just from that. Everybody is feeling good, getting recovery, treatment, eating well and drinking water and staying hydrated and just not being tired.”

About the Author