Archie Miller, the first-year University of Dayton basketball coach, can always count on getting valuable insight about the Flyers from older brother Sean Miller, the Arizona coach. And the feedback after a 75-65 win over Charlotte on Wednesday was all positive.
“I talked to him (Thursday) morning, and he was looking at our stats from last night, and he said, ‘It looks like you guys are playing really well again. You’re gaining your composure.’ And I said, ‘Boy, it sure doesn’t feel that way,’ ” Archie said.
The Flyers had 12,184 fans squirming most of the night before outscoring the 49ers, 19-10, over the final 5:07 to pull out the win. But Miller did concede the Flyers’ defensive showings have been getting better.
“If you look at the stat sheet of the last three games, maybe it isn’t perfect, but the difference is teams are shooting under 30 percent from 3 and making about four a game,” Miller said. “If you look at the first four or five games in conference play, we were getting absolutely blistered. I’m proud to see our guys respond. They’ve changed that part of the game.”
The Flyers have two straight wins and have pulled to within one game of third place in the Atlantic 10, giving them a reasonable shot at one of the four first-round byes in the league tourney. Xavier and UMass are tied for third at 7-4 with five games to go. St. Joe’s is 7-5. And UD, La Salle, Duquesne and St. Bonaventure are 6-5.
“If we’d be able to figure out a way to get into a top-four slot, which is challenging for us right now, I would say it would be an amazing finish to our season,” Miller said. “We’d have to win, in my opinion, four of five or three of five and have some luck.”
Three of the Flyers’ last five are on the road, including a trip to Xavier on Saturday. And though they’ve won back-to-back games against the Musketeers for the first time since 1990-91, they’ve lost 26 straight to their rivals in Cincinnati since 1981.
Of his team’s modest two-game winning streak, Miller said, “I wouldn’t say we’re peaking. I would say we’re fighting through the good fight. This is February, and every win you get is good. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, you’ve got to keep trudging along.
“I think this time of year, what you’re hoping for from your players is knowing what you’re going to get from certain guys night in and night out. ... We’re still a little bit wobbly on that, knowing exactly what we can get from certain guys on a given night, which isn’t a good feeling.”