Where have Dayton’s past coaches come from?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Dayton is wild about basketball. Notably during the month of March community excitement is amped up with an assist from the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Our area teams have plenty to crow about including numerous championships through the years. Here is a look back at three championship seasons:

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The University of Dayton is searching for a new basketball coach after Indiana’s hiring of Archie Miller this weekend.

Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said, “You try to find the best coach you can for the University of Dayton.”

Here’s where UD has looked in the past for its past five coaches:

ARCHIE MILLER: Assistant coach, Arizona

Miller was an assistant coach for his brother, Sean, at Arizona, when Dayton came calling.

“When I left that meeting room, I felt I did everything I could to get my message across, and they did everything they could to explain their vision,” Miller said of Dayton during his introductory news conference on April 3, 2011.

“When I left, I said, ‘I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity, but whoever it is has one heck of an opportunity to hit a home run.’”

Brian Gregory (right), the new men's basketball coach at Dayton, is with his players prior to their introduction before the 2003 season. This was part of the Student Midnight Madness at Dayton. RON ALVEY / STAFF
Brian Gregory (right), the new men's basketball coach at Dayton, is with his players prior to their introduction before the 2003 season. This was part of the Student Midnight Madness at Dayton. RON ALVEY / STAFF

Credit: Ron Alvey

Credit: Ron Alvey

BRIAN GREGORY: Associate head coach, Michigan State 

Gregory had been the associate head coach for coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State for four seasons when he took the Dayton job.

Then-UD athletic director Ted Kissell recalled the first time he met Gregory during the news conference to introduce him on April 9, 2003. From a Dayton Daily News story:

Several years ago, Kevin O'Neill, then the men's basketball coach at Northwestern University, introduced one of his assistant coaches - Brian Gregory - to his friend, Ted Kissell, Director of Athletics at the University of Dayton.

"Ted, keep your eye on this guy," O'Neill said. "He's the best."

Oliver Purnell shrugs his shoulders in a University of Dayton game against Tulsa. RON ALVEY / STAFF
Oliver Purnell shrugs his shoulders in a University of Dayton game against Tulsa. RON ALVEY / STAFF

Credit: Ron Alvey

Credit: Ron Alvey

OLIVER PURNELL: Head coach, Old Dominion 

Purnell had gone 57-33 at Old Dominion after a 44-42 record as the head coach at Radford when he entered the winding tale of Dayton’s search to find a coach to replace Jim O’Brien.

That tale included Kissell talking his way into a suite at a hotel in Charlotte, N.C., site of the 1994 Final Four, for interviews after Siena coach Mike Deane turned down the job. Kissell met with coaches including Fran Fraschilla, then at Manhattan, before interviewing and hiring Purnell.

"This is a great area," Purnell said of Old Dominion a day after he had become the first black head basketball coach in UD's history. "I live on that bay. I'll miss the area. I'll miss all these people. I'll miss the (Old Dominion) players, the bay. I'll miss all those things. There's no question about that.

"But I'm going to a better opportunity and I'm sure there are going to be a lot of things about the University of Dayton and that entire area that I'm going to enjoy also."

Jim O'Brien, former UD basketball coach
Jim O'Brien, former UD basketball coach

Credit: Dayton Daily News archives

Credit: Dayton Daily News archives

JIM O’BRIEN: Assistant coach, New York Knicks 

O’Brien was an assistant coach for Rick Pitino with the Knicks, and his previous head coaching experience included a stint at Wheeling Jesuit in West Virginia, where he went 74-69. He was hired at Dayton on April 19, 1989.

O’Brien had also previously been an assistant coach with St. Joseph’s and Oregon.

''Jim is one of the brightest coaches I have had the pleasure to work with in the last 15 years,'' Pitino said at the time. “He's an outstanding teacher and communicator of the game of basketball. We wish him well.''

DON DONOHER: Assistant coach, Dayton 

Tom Blackburn hired Donoher from his job as freshman coach at Chaminade High School in 1963, and by the end of his first season as an assistant, Donoher was filling in for the ailing Blackburn.

Blackburn died of cancer in 1964, and Donoher was promoted to the head coaching position. He coached Dayton for 25 seasons, until 1989.