Five reasons conversations at Nick’s about Archie Miller being fired are waaaay premature

Archie has won at a level fans like, nor has he hit the stump to sell his vision. That combination has fans antsy. He hopes his team can turn the corner like they did last year.

I hear you out there, Indiana fans.  You’re tired of the losses.  You saw Bob Knight at Assembly Hall and all your synapses started firing.  Visions of championships, excellence, and toughness started dancing in your brain.

Indiana’s basketball season took a hard turn south a couple of weeks ago with 1:27 seconds left against Big 10 leader Maryland.  The Hoosiers led by six and enjoyed a 5-3 Big 10 record in that moment.

As Maryland scored the final seven points in Bloomington, the nightmare began.  It has continued through the following three games – road losses to Penn State and Ohio State followed by a loss at home to Purdue on Saturday with Knight and his boys as the halftime act.

So now, Indiana is 5-7 with a Thursday home game looming against Iowa.  With a loss to the Hawkeyes, a path to an NCAA Tournament bid becomes difficult to plot.  Indiana’s hasn’t been to the NCAAs since 2016, so Indiana fans are getting anxious – to say the least.

Some fans are downright angry.  They see Miller as intimidated by players – a coach afraid to hold his roster accountable to behavioral demands.  The result is passionless and joyless basketball against teams willingness to ball out.  That has brought mediocrity to Bloomington for an unsettlingly long stretch.

Four straight years outside the NCAA hasn’t happened for Indiana Basketball since a five-year period that ended in 1971-1972.  In 1971 and 1972, it’s very likely the Hoosiers would have qualified if the tourney field was 68 as it is today.  Quinn Buckner and Scott May are in their mid-60s today.  They were not yet IU freshmen the last time IU was absent from the Big Dance for this long.

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People are asking whether it might be a good idea for IU’s new athletic director, whomever it is, to seek a new architect for the basketball program.  Here are five great reasons he or she should stay the course with Archie Miller:

5 – Crean.  It might have been quicker to pivot the program by cleaning house when Miller took over from Tom Crean, but Miller is halfway through executing a slow cultural turn class by class.  Winning with a group of players recruited by the previous regime can be tough, and it has been with Miller.  It’s hardly Crean’s fault that Miller is coaching his recruits, but those guys either haven’t adjusted to Miller, or Miller has not adjusted to them.

4 – Season isn’t over yet.  It appears Indiana has wobbled into entrenched lethargy, but fans thought the same thing last season when the Hoosiers lost 12-of-13 games.  The Hoosiers bounced back after that horror show by winning four of their last five.  Let’s wait until the season ends before embracing our renowned irrationality.

3 – Buyout.  Miller’s buyout is 100% of the remaining money through the expiration of his deal in 2024.  That buyout lapses after the 2021-2022 season.  Indiana is not historically eager to spend a bunch of money on a coach no longer employed by the university.  There is a reason Miller wanted five guaranteed years, and it’s the same reason Indiana agreed to it.  It’s fair to wait until a coach has a roster filled with his recruits before he’s finally judged.

2 – Recruiting.  I’m all about Miller recruiting the best players in Indiana and Ohio who fit his culture (although we aren’t sure of the cultural definition yet).  Getting Romeo Langford, Trayce Jackson-Davis, Armaan Franklin, Jeremy Hunter, Joey Brunk as a grad-eligible transfer, and Damezi Anderson helped IU re-establish a local base that it could draw on for talent.  Crean’s relationships in Indiana weren’t strong when he left.  Miller has recruited Indiana well, and that will pay off eventually.

1 – Impatience.  Miller was hired less than three years ago.  If Miller is canned, how many really good coaches would want to talk to IU after seeing the lack of patience that cost Miller?  Although Indiana is going to commit $30-$40 million to whomever coaches the Hoosiers through the 2020s, money can’t buy happiness, wins or administration patience (if they fire Miller).

There is a reason I wrote this 48 hours after the loss to Purdue.  It took me that long to get over the anger and frustration of watching a fractured team wilt at a place where that never used to happen.  Recalibrating my brain to its logical and judicious center took this long.

10 thoughts on “Five reasons conversations at Nick’s about Archie Miller being fired are waaaay premature

  1. George Hook

    5. Crean. Immaterial. Other coaches have worked with recruits from a previous tenure with success. Why not Ryan Miller? What, is Crean pulling the strings from a basement in Georgia to get Green to miss three pointers?

    4. True. But the trend is definitely toward predictions before the Big Ten season of IU finishing 11th in the league. The way IU fans are feeling after that abysmal performance on Saturday, though, it may not be enough even if they sneak into the NCAA and not beat Purdue in Mackey. Kent, did you hear Haarms at is press conference after the game? He said his team “wasn’t worried as much as last year” about this edition. IU fans don’t want to hear that, period.

    3. May be immaterial with television shots of Mark Cuban looking markedly annoyed before the halftime break, not standing. I suspect he has pull with the trustees and from what my sources have told me, they weren’t too happy with Ryan Miller before this game. Don’t underestimate IU’s resolve to recommit to the program, now that Glass is a lame duck and the rift with Knight is healed, opening the way for former players to return to the scene.

    2. So what? He’s already recruited two McDonald’s All-Americans and lost in the NIT with one of them (now doing better in the NBA under Brad Stevens) and is trending down with another one. The idea that he was doing a recruiting trip during rival week when he should have been in Bloomington with his team is just sloppy not to mention strange.

    1. John Groce stayed at Illinois for five years, also a former MAC phenom. He made it to the tournament several times, including his last year, when he was fired. Indiana University has a much stronger basketball tradition than Illinois. You really think IU fans will stand for anymore of this for two more years?

    Good try, but this is beginning to smell like dead meat to me.

    1. Donnie Harmon

      IU should have never extended Miller, there was absolutely no reason for it. Of course there’s probably as much reason as for the rest of their decisions since Knight’s departure. There’s no reason, that with the resources at thrir disposal, IU can’t get a great coach. What makes it even worse is that there’s probably at least a quarter of the Indiana population (i’m serious here) which could have made much sounder decisions in the how the basketball progran has been run.
      Please, don’t give me any excuses for Archie. He’s a decent guy, but we have seen more than enough to realize it’s time for change. The lack of effort, along with the players’ lack of even being aware they aren’t giving any, is damning in and of itself,. Miller’s teams aren’t fundamentally sound, they have trouble making adjustments, and never improve over time (if anything, they seem to regress).
      We might never have another Coach Knight or McCracken, but couldn’t we get a coach that at least keeps so many of us from changing the channel?

  2. Perry Parsons

    Do you feel like their is a cancer player(s) on this team? If so Miller should bench them or remove him of them from the team! IU and Miller are better than how this team has been playing !

  3. Jason

    Archie is a failure. And totally intimidated by his players. I mean he is 5’’3. Alford has also been subpar but no coach would be better. You have to understand the greatness that Coach Knight presented. He will

  4. Doug Anderson

    Kent Sterling or anyone else out there. I just don’t see Jackson Davis coming back next year. Any talk out there on what they are thinking he will do? Without him next year…..geeeeesh!

  5. CJ Diehl

    My problem lies within the growth, or lack thereof, of the players and team. The consistent inconsistencies are exhausting. The culture seems damaged and unhealthy. And the fact that Miller was a D-1 point guard and his teams go through stretches of looking lost and lacking his passion makes me question his overall coaching ability and/or his players lack of basketball IQ. He preaches team defense and transition basketball, and they just gave up 89 to Michigan today. It looks like they have no idea how to attack a zone defense and when other teams play them straight up man, he uses a motion offense that has no…motion. Eye test is telling me to move on and to pick up that phone, I’m sure Dane Fife is waiting for your call. He’s only been groomed by one of the best coaches in the country in Izzo. Either way, go IU.

  6. Michael Fulkerson

    Why is it that Archie Miller goes to historically great program like Indiana and can’t even get them ranked in the top 25 and in the same amount of time Archie has been at Indiana Dayton picks up a new coach and has them ranked number 6 in the country, should we go back to Dayton and get the new coach, Riddle me that Batman.

  7. Larry

    Archie miller seems like he has no clue. The defense is bad and the offense could not score against a high school team. In the third year of miller there are the same problems. You mean to tell me that Rutgers has better players than iu? No they are not being coached right. If iu does not make the tournament then move on from miller. Crean is beginning to look like an upgrade. The days of bobby knight are long gone. Iu is no longer a blue blood program and no one fears iu. I hope archie miller turns it around but do not expect it.

  8. A. West

    You know what the overall problem is? They never should have hired this kid in the first place. When I heard they named him to replace Crean (who I agreed needed to go) I screamed at my radio in utter disgust. And my fears and prediction have come true in spades. With the money and prestige IU brings to the table, they should be able to attract a quality coach with a proven track record at this level of play. But, if the program continues in this direction, they will find it difficult to get a decent high school coach. IU used to be the premier basketball program in the Big Ten and the country in general. Now it is barely in the top four in the state. Butler is now, far and away, the best basketball program in the Indiana and no one in Bloomington seems to give a damn. Well, if they don’t, then neither do I and I have a degree from and taught at IU and rooted my brains out for the ’76, ’80 and ’87 championship teams and all the ones in between. And what has happened of late just makes me sick and not proud to be a Hoosier fan. Never thought I’d say that but I just did.


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