Winning big

It’s Archie Miller’s time to shine at Indiana

By Marc Katz

 

What Archie Miller has been asked to deliver as the new coach at Indiana and Brad Brownell is being asked to deliver at Clemson—where he has coached seven years since leaving Wright State—are the same thing. Except they’re not.

What Miller did as Dayton’s coach for six seasons was outstanding, but let’s not get overly mushy about it. The Flyers long ago established a sparkling record.

IU Athletics Director Fred Glass wants more.

“Win multiple Big Ten championships,” Glass tells Sports Illustrated, outlining his goals for the team. “Regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament, and win our next national championship—and more after that.”

Just before he uttered those words, Glass fired Tom Crean, who coached the team for nine seasons, winning two Big Ten championships over the last six and going to the Sweet 16 three times.

Crean was the fourth coach Indiana has tried since firing Knight in 2000, allegedly for bad behavior.

But let’s look a little more closely at the record. Knight won 11 Big Ten regular-season championships and three National Championships during his 29 years at IU, all in the first 22 years, none in his last seven.

Indiana already had an iconic program with two National Championships prior to Knight’s arrival in 1971, but there’s no denying he belongs where he is, in basketball’s Hall of Fame.

Knight’s last Big Ten regular-season championship came in 1993. Would you believe the Hoosiers have won only three since—two of them by Crean, the second one just a year ago?

Certainly, Indiana deserves to be in the paragraph of elite programs such as North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and UCLA. But take a look at this year’s Final Four: two teams (Gonzaga and South Carolina) had never been there, and one (Oregon) was last there in 1939, the year the tournament began.

More schools are taking basketball more seriously, making it tougher to win.

After taking over a depleted and on-probation Indiana program, Crean suffered through three losing seasons before tasting success.

Ironically, Crean was a Michigan State assistant when he interviewed for the Wright State job in 1997, losing out to Ed Schilling.

Crean told me a few years later he was disheartened when he didn’t get it, but later landed at Marquette, where he was successful enough over a nine-year period to be considered at Indiana.

Published reports at the time indicated Brownell, finishing his second season at WSU, was next in line had Crean turned down the IU job.

Now the Hoosiers have tagged another coach from Dayton to reestablish the program to where its administration and fans believe it belongs.

Clemson does not have the same basketball history, but Brownell knows his record isn’t good enough to demand tenure.

In seven seasons, Brownell’s teams have won 17 or more games only twice and have been to one NCAA.

Win the ACC? Clemson has done that only once since helping to found the conference in 1953 and was put on probation for skirting NCAA rules, following that 1990 success.

The ACC, of course, is dominated by North Carolina and Duke.

Before I leave the Dayton thread, remember Brownell took over at Clemson when former UD coach Oliver Purnell left to go to DePaul.

Purnell, by the way, was ultra successful at Clemson, posting 20 or more victories his last four seasons.

So Clemson athletics director Dan Radakovich knows the history.

“[Brownell] continues to represent Clemson University with integrity and class,” Radakovich told the Post and Courier in South Carolina, “and we will continue to do all that we can to help him as we expect to achieve consistent success with our men’s basketball program.

“The kind of year we went through, if you were a season ticket holder, you were highly entertained at home games. Unfortunately, the hero got shot at the end of almost all the movies. And that’s the hard part.”

Clemson lost six games by three points or less, including to Duke by two and North Carolina by three in overtime.

“There has been good progress made in our program,” Brownell says. “Some of it is fundraising. We put our effort into that and recruiting.

“I do think [in] my situation, [administrators and fans] have been very supportive, because they do appreciate the way we’ve conducted our business and the kinds of players we’ve had, the way they’ve graduated.”

However, Brownell knows his obligation to the school has yet to be fulfilled.

Plenty of coaches across the nation have lost their jobs with records similar to Brownell’s 17-16 in his sixth year since leaving Wright State.

“We’ve got to win a few more games here, or we’re gonna be [gone],” Brownell says in a recent conversation.

Brownell took the high road, not saying it couldn’t be done, but not saying it could, either.

“A lot of it is self-induced,” Brownell says. “You want to make people happy. You want to do well for your players. You want them to experience success, you want your fans to experience success, our donors, and administrators. You want that for everybody. You don’t want to just win to win. You know how hard everybody’s working, especially your players.”

Crean took the highest road of all.

“I hope Indiana wins that national championship,” Crean says. “And another one. I really do.”

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Marc Katz
Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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