Charlotte basketball coach Alan Major admitted he won’t exactly relish being pitted against a former colleague in Archie Miller tonight. The friendship aspect alone would be enough to create some awkwardness, but Major also knows he’ll have all he can handle in matching wits with the first-year University of Dayton coach.
The two were on the same staff at Ohio State under Thad Matta for two seasons from 2007-09. Major, who spent six seasons in all with the Buckeyes, was in charge of developing the big men, while Miller was assigned to the wings.
“There’s certain guys you always know will be a head coach. You just don’t know when they’re going to get their opportunity,” Major said. “But I knew it would happen for him just because he’s committed to players, he’s committed to the game, and he just has a tremendous IQ.”
Miller, who at 33 is the fifth-youngest Division I coach in the nation, was the pup on OSU’s staff but said he was always treated like an equal. He gleaned much from his stay in Columbus and especially enjoyed watching Major work.
“He’s a basketball coach’s coach,” Miller said. “He loves the game, loves the players, loves the day-to-day interaction. You can tell getting players better is a great source of pride for him.”
Major is in his second year with Charlotte. After dismissing leading scorer Shamari Spears last season and finishing 10-20, the 49ers have improved to 12-11 this season.
Miller inherited a program with a winning culture, but he still has had to withstand a rash of injuries, including losing star forward Josh Benson for the year with a torn knee ligament, after starting with 10 scholarship players.
“I know if it was up to Arch, he’d like to have a little more health and depth than he does,” Major said. “But coming in as a first-year head coach with predominantly the other coach’s guys — it’s a different team and different philosophy, and now you come in and that’s a change — he’s overcome all that. Those guys play extremely hard.”