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March 17, 2016

Archie Miller

St. Louis, Missouri

THE MODERATOR: Coach of the Flyers has joined us, Archie Miller. Coach, an opening statement.

ARCHIE MILLER: It's great to be here in St. Louis. Really excited to be back in the tournament again for our third year and have a great opponent in Syracuse. So the excitement level of our team, in general, has been up all week. I think we're anxious to get on the court and sort of get going.

Q. You had kind of an unusual season personnel wise. You had some injuries and you had the suspension. How challenging was it to work through all those things and keep everything going in the right direction?
ARCHIE MILLER: It was difficult. I think the one thing is starting the season with maybe your most productive player coming back, and not going to be available, was something that was uncertain. We were uncertain. Our front court is young, other than maybe Kendall's experience level. But I think Charles really gave us a boost early in the year that we weren't real sure or. Just he hadn't played. And I thought he got off to a tremendous start. And our non-conference schedule was very difficult, so I knew we were tested. The challenging thing, not so much for Dyshawn as he came back, was the other guys. Because as he did come back, it was clear we were going to use him, and when we did use him, it just became something that we had to get him in the mix a lot and to get his rhythm back with the other players. And some guys had to take a seat. We didn't play some guys who played a lot of minutes leading into that. So that was a challenge. I think January, late December we were sort of working those kinks out. When we were the healthiest of the year, when we ripped off, I think, nine in a row, that was the rotation that was going to be set there for a while. And then Kendall's setback at the end sort of changed us again. But I think as we're here right now we're in a good way. We have a lot of different guys working hard that can impact the game, and we'll see. We're going to have to need some different guys step up as the tournament gets started on Friday.

Q. A lot of the Syracuse guys have been watching tape from the game two years ago. I know Syracuse has a lot fewer players on its team currently as you do from that game. Have you looked at that tape and gone off that game I guess at all?
ARCHIE MILLER: Different personnel on both teams. And our philosophy on both ends of the ball has changed slightly. Watching them play, they're pretty much very similar fashion to Coach Boeheim's team -- very free flowing on offense and defensively the zone is the zone. The one thing that's a little bit unique, in that first game we played them, I thought we had a different type of a team physically. We were bigger, stronger. Dyshawn at that time was playing the 3 slot for us. So I thought we had a couple of different guys that could work in and out of that zone, where this year we don't have as many. It's going to be very, very challenging. I think the mindset of the two teams will be another thing that's a lot different right now, getting into the tournament.

So you can go back and look at it for sure. But I think it's going to be a different type of a game.

Q. Going back to that game, what do you kind of remember about the emotions there, when you almost lost that six-point lead, and what it kind of meant for your program to get that and continue on in the tournament that year?
ARCHIE MILLER: I would say as much as anything, a win like that against Syracuse advancing to the Sweet 16 may have as much reason for us being here for the third year in a row as anything. March has become the stage with all the lights. And if you're able to be in this stage and you're able to win a game, I think it feels great. When you're able to make a run like we made a couple of years ago, I think it carries over to your players' experience level, big game mentality in the last couple of regular seasons. So a game like that, being able to win it, I think, has propelled us to be where we're at right now.

Q. I was talking to a couple of your guys about this, kind of an unorthodox question, but I was wondering if you prefer as a coach the first half or the second half from the perspective of calling offensive plays to your players, them being closer to you in the second half, or on defense shouting out defensive things because they're -- the basket they're at is by your bench and by you?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, we've always been much better on defense in the first half and much better on offense in the second half. I think being able to communicate with your players during the game and the flow of a game is important, especially with the way we play. So I always would like to have, I guess, our offense in front of us late in the game, especially in tight ones when you're able to help communicate to your guys. And especially in the first half, defensively, I think we're a lot more successful. But I guess that's just the way the game goes. So, I don't know, maybe some coaches don't care. They'd rather have their defense in front of them late in the game. Never had to really have that opportunity, so I don't know what it feels like. But definitely like to communicate with our guys when they're in front of us.

Q. You've had a good run at Dayton the last four years. But before you, Brian Gregory, Oliver Purnell and of course, Don, for years. What is the secret at Dayton? What is it about Dayton that helps so many different guys have success there?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think at first it has to start and stop with the administration. I think it has to go down from the vision of the administration and understanding that basketball is extremely important. I think the second thing would be the tradition-based fans, a community feel in town, but a fan base that's very knowledgeable that loves our arena, that loves the feel of being a part of a winner. And I think that's carried over. Right now the momentum that we have with our fan base and what's going on in the city of Dayton around our program is a high. But I think it starts from the top. Administration and the importance and the understanding that we have a great fan base and we need to cater to them. And the vision is always to continue to improve. You'll see when we tip at 11:15, we're going to have a heck of a showing here.

Q. Ever since 2014, with that Elite Eight run, your name comes up whenever there's a job opening out there. How do you handle that?
ARCHIE MILLER: I never pay any attention to it, to be honest with you. I have a job to do. Whether I'm an assistant coach, a graduate assistant or now the head coach I've always been taught if you do a great job at what you're doing, good things will happen. I just try to do a great job for our players at Dayton. I'm very, very comfortable at Dayton. We have a place, I think, to continue to get even better and better and what we do right now we own, it's ours, and I'm proud of that.

Q. Dayton's record against the Power Five the last few years has been pretty impressive. How much do you consider that a sign of what that program is and how important is that number to you?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think when you play in the Atlantic 10, sometimes you can get overlooked a little bit from an exposure standpoint. And anytime we've had an opportunity to play against, like you said, a Power Five team, I think it raises our guys' interest level. They play with a chip on their shoulder, they have an edge about them. In many cases they weren't good enough to play at a lot of those places, and you're dealing with a team that's always literally trying to prove themselves. So I think that's some of the advantage. I think some of it is we're better than a lot of those teams. You can say whatever you want to say about Power Five; we're better than some of those teams. We've beat teams that are good teams, but we've also been pretty good. As we get ready to approach this tournament, a sense of belonging here rather than excited to be here is a different feeling at this time of year as well.

Our guys pretty much from the start of the season all the way through, it wasn't about the tournament. It was about winning a championship. And then once we get to the tournament we'll see where we're at and let's go play, try to advance. But we have a different group now. I think as we get ready to approach even more so, you know, games next year, whatever it may be, I don't necessarily know if we're looked at anymore as that team that is from the Atlantic 10 or whatever. I think Dayton has its own name now.

Q. I think Coach Boeheim has been at Syracuse longer than you've been alive. What is your impression of his tenure and ability to stay relevant for all these years?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's an incredible coach. The first thing I think when you talk about Coach Boeheim is the most impressive thing is the legions and decades of players that are so loyal to him. Allen Griffin, who is on my staff, who played for Coach Boeheim, it's almost like they're one of his sons and he's got a lot of them. I think as a coach, even me developing our own brand and just thinking about guys that have graduated and come back, he is decades full of players that love him. I think that's the first step. I think the second thing that's most important is they're very, very comfortable being themselves on the court. They change for nobody. There's a great confidence level in how they play, how they develop their players and how they coach. And I think there's a brand that's next to Syracuse. It will be there forever because of him. So he's a Hall of Famer, but he's a very, very intelligent guy and he breeds confidence. When you can do it as long as he has and have the loyal players that he has underneath him, that's very impressive.

Q. Steve McElvene, just the way he's matured this year if he has, and are we just seeing the tip of the iceberg of what he could be? Or just what do you see this kid could be?
ARCHIE MILLER: Steve's done a nice job for us. He's basically a freshman. He just played his first year of college basketball. I think it's harder even for big kids early in their careers to figure out how the college game works for them, more so than a guard. So Steve's helped us win, he's helped us get here. You look at some of the numbers he has per minute and you look at some of our defensive numbers in particular, he's a big reason why. But he's the very, very tip of what he could be. Steve has a chance to be as good as he wants to be. He's got great hands. He's got great length and he has an unbelievable appetite to work. There's very few days that he doesn't show up and work very hard. But learning the game, being smarter, how people go after him and the fouling and some things like that, that's just immaturity just in terms of not understanding the game. As he gets older, a game like this on Friday, he gets this under his belt, he's going to continue to gain that knowledge that a big guy needs to have. And I'm proud of Steve. Steve started from, I don't want to say rock bottom, but Steve started at one level at 300 pounds. Today he's 250 pounds and he's played his first year of college basketball and he's doing a nice job in the classroom. So we'll see. I think the big thing for him is to continue to work hard, have a good attitude and the sky's the limit.

Q. Obviously this time of year we hear a lot about small schools. And even though Dayton may not be the biggest school in the tournament, there is no Cinderella where you're at. Been here, done that. How much of an advantage is you guys, you fully expect to advance and guys, when you recruit, guys don't come here hoping to get in the tournament, they hope to advance and go far; how much mindset-wise does it help you?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think it should help. I think being yourself in this tournament, being yourself this time of year is the most important thing. Do the things that you've done all year to get here and don't change. I think so many times you can come into the tournament and if you're not careful, all the media, all the open practices, all the hoopla can have you not ready. And as fast as you got here, you can get kicked out quicker. So I think as we've been able to do a couple of things the last couple of years, the one thing that has been very key is talking about being ourselves. We don't have to change for anybody. What we do works. And just kind of keeping that mantra and that's gotten us here now. I think as we prepared this week we haven't changed a whole lot in our approach. I think the biggest thing is a mindset that as you get ready to play this game, knowing how hard you have to play. And I think some guys on our team clearly know what it's going to feel like. So I think you have to have an advantage about that.

Q. You talked about Coach Griffin. Looking at this week, I guess, what does he bring to the table in terms of helping prepare your team?
ARCHIE MILLER: Nothing. Nothing. He's scared to death. He's scared to death. Coach Boeheim scares him like no other person has ever been scared. He has no value in this game at all, actually. He just sits there and is very quiet on the bench. No, Griff has done a great job, and he's done a great job for us in his time here, and he does a great job with our players. There's not much he's going to tell me that I'm not going to know: They're going to play a real good zone. They're going to get their best players shots. That's what they do. They play with great freedom. He understands that more than anybody because he's been there. But there's a couple of things that he has a familiarity with that help us a little bit, but your personnel, your players they have to go out there and play.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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