Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Arizona coach Sean Miller and his brother, new Indiana coach Archie Miller, learned from their father, John, who was a legendary Pennsylvania high school coach who won over 600 games.

Sunday, March 26, 2017 10:03 pm

New IU coach has good genes

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

On a regular basis in recent years, people would call Archie Miller by his brother’s name, Sean. He laughed off the mistaken identity.

In fact, Miller would proudly admit he comes from a basketball family. He credits his career in college coaching, one that catapulted Saturday into the national consciousness with landing the Indiana job, to his father.

John Miller was a legendary coach at Blackhawk High School in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, winning more than 600 games and four state championships. Now he has one son taking over the Hoosiers and another, Sean, coaching Arizona.

Two of America’s most prominent programs are led by men who grew up in the same household less than an hour northwest of Pittsburgh.

"When you talk about my dad, you talk about a coach that could have coached at any level of basketball any time he wanted," Archie Miller said in 2014. "He chose not to do that. He chose to be with his family. By being with his family, what he did was he created an environment that was second to none in terms of growing up around the game."

Archie, 38, will take part in his first official act as coach of the Hoosiers today with an introductory press conference in Assembly Hall. But this is really a moment his father has helped prepare him for almost since birth.

"Whether you were being taught the game, whether you were working at the game, it really didn’t matter," Archie said. "He spent just a crazy amount of time with us growing up. It was always about playing, competing, w inning, working."

Sean enjoyed a standout collegiate playing career at Pittsburgh, as did Archie at North Carolina State. Their sister, Lisa, 36, played at Toledo and Elon after a stellar prep career that saw her named Associated Press State Player of the Year.

Archie, in particular, had to maximize his abilities because the 5-foot-9, 156-pound point guard lacked imposing physical traits. He made his mark on the Atlantic Coast Conference by draining 72 3-pointers as a senior and averaging 9.9 points per game.

"He was an inspiration to play in the ACC at North Carolina State," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but his heart and talent supersede his size. Now he’s doing it on the coaching level, so he’s obviously been an inspiration to others, as well."

The family tree branched off in a different direction when Sean and Archie chose a different limb of the family business: coaching college instead of high school. But John, in his early 70s, has been there to lend guidance as he closed the book on his own career. John checked in often at Dayton, where Archie was coach these last six years, and on Sean at Arizona.

Next stop: Bloomington.

As for Archie, call him Sean or be like his mother, Barb, and call him by his given name, Ryan. Just be prepared to call Archie a success at Indiana, according to Kentucky coach John Calipari, John Miller’s cousin.

"I think he’ll do a great job there (at IU)," Calipari said. "If I were hiring a coach, I would hire Archie. I say that because we all grew up with his father. He’s a basketball guy. Not afraid. He’s got a fight in him, and he’s got a will, and the kids love playing for him.

"I mean, it’s not an easy job. You have to walk in there wanting that challenge, kind of like Kentucky. If you don’t want this, all that goes along with it, don’t come, and it’s the same with Indiana. You’ve got to want that, and he did, obviously, or he wouldn’t have taken that job."

cgoff@jg.net