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March 26, 2014
THE MODERATOR:Â Good afternoon.Â Welcome to the first of our NCAA south regional press conferences this afternoon.Â We've been joined by Dayton head coach Archie Miller.Â
COACH MILLER:Â Excited to be here.Â It's been a long season for everyone.Â This is kind of what it's all about.Â Our guys are really excited to play, but still in a very good mind frame.
Watching Stanford, we have a heck of a challenge on our hands, and in particular watching them in their last couple of games against New Mexico and Kansas, playing great basketball.
So we expect a very, very difficult game, but I also think, with the way that we're playing right now, I think we have a chance to do something special here this weekend.
Q.Â Coach, have you spoken to your brother about Stanford at all recently?
COACH MILLER:Â No, I haven't.Â I've only spoken to Sean one time since the opening round finished.Â It was very briefly after his Gonzaga win, kind of congratulated him, and he congratulated me upon travel.
It's been very difficult to communicate with anybody right now.Â As we've gotten into the tournament, preparation starts, and then you're fortunate enough to win, you don't really care about what's going on.
I didn't even watch any games really in the first or second round, but I'm happy for those guys to be out in Anaheim.Â He's excited for us.Â Like I told everybody, he could get me the greatest game plan in the world.Â I don't have his players.Â My players have to execute what we do, and we're going to have a hard enough time ourselves.
Q.Â As a followup to that, Stanford obviously has a very long, lean team.Â How do you think you match up against them?Â What kind of problem is that going to be for your team?
COACH MILLER:Â They present a lot of problems for us on both ends, their size and they're very skilled.Â Watching them here of late, particularly in the first two rounds, thought they did a great job in and around the basket with their physicalness.Â Offensive rebounding from a couple of spots is very concerning, just all in all.
But Ohio State was big.Â Syracuse was really big.Â We've played Gonzaga and Cal and Baylor.Â They were big.Â And it's not really about playing against big people.Â It's about executing your system versus the different styles that you play against.
We're going to just really have to tweak and tinker and make sure that we're sharp as we play against them.Â But the overall theme will be our ability to really match up on the glass on both ends with them.Â We're going to have to rebound the ball to have a chance.
Q.Â Coach, I'm curious, what's the difference between your team in January, when you guys were struggling, and then versus February through March when you guys have just been rolling?
COACH MILLER:Â It's a couple things.Â One thing is we were injured.Â Our starting center Matt Kavanaugh, our reserve, Alex Gavrilovic has not been healthy all year.Â And our starting point guard, Khari Price, were all out.Â They didn't practice for four weeks in January, and Khari played in the games.Â It took a toll on us every day in practice.Â We beat each other up.Â We took our losses at home, which took our confidence, in my opinion.
We started to go 'woe is me,' and they became just a little too much at that point in time to figure out how we had to do it.Â We got healthy, slowly but surely.Â We got our depth back.Â We really tailed back on everything we've done in the past.Â We started to really just focus on ourselves a little bit.Â Slowly, we started to get back.
We have great character.Â We've had great camaraderie all year.Â It started to take hold in February, and we didn't win the Atlantic 10, which we wanted to do, but I think towards the end of the season there were very few Atlantic 10 teams playing as well as us.
Really proud of our guys.Â Every team goes through a couple of slips and slides and stretches, but the best find a way to regroup, and we did that.
Q.Â Archie, how would you describe kind of the character and personality of both the city of Dayton and this program to people who may not be as familiar?
COACH MILLER:Â They're intertwined.Â They go hand in hand.Â The community, the program, they both live off one another.Â Sometimes 20‑, 30‑, 40‑year season ticket holders run up to you in a grocery store, and you can be 0‑8, and they're going to get 12,000 in there, and they're going to cheer you on.Â They're going to love your players.
Your players are going to feel the benefits of being at what a lot of places around the country can't explain to have at their fingertips.
It's a little bit of a double‑edged sword because if you're doing well, they make you feel like you're doing better than you really are.Â You may show up and eight cakes and 19 boxes of cookies are going to be in your office or in the locker room after you get a great win.
In some places winning is an expectation.Â But they love to see our guys do well.Â Our players benefit from being in such a great community.Â It's a beautiful place to coach because the town is knowledgeable.Â It's about basketball.
To me, this is where they deserve to be.Â I'm more happy for our fans, our alums, former players than I am for our staff.Â I mean, I think that as we continue to build and do things, the more rabid we can make them, the better off we're going to be.
So it's an unbelievable place to coach basketball, and I really think like it may be one of the best places to play basketball because you're just the show.Â It's a smaller environment, maybe a little smaller bowl to look into, but you are the show.
Q.Â Coach, I was just wondering what your dad is thinking about his two sons being in the Sweet 16 and what kind of influence did he have to get you to this point?
COACH MILLER:Â Well, he's very excited.Â I think he's probably a bit taken back by the attention he's probably getting and our family's getting.
In his mind, this is an unbelievable not only experience or opportunity for our program and doing what we've done at a very early stage, but he's also got the big picture in mind with Sean in terms of watching him sort of go through his years at Xavier and now at Arizona.Â The hope of a National Championship or a Final Four appearance is there.
So there's a lot of emotion that goes on with that with our family.Â Sean and I really haven't talked a lot about any significance or anything.Â I haven't even talked to my father about significance.Â I think more so the outside world is blowing him up.
But when you talk about my dad, I mean, you talk about a coach that could have coached at any level of basketball any time he wanted.Â He chose not to do that.Â He chose to be with his family.Â 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.
Whether you were being taught the game, whether you were working at the game, it really didn't matter.Â It was always about playing, competing, winning, working.Â Everything that we do, whether it's me or Sean, I'd have to say that he's probably the main reason why we sit here today.
Q.Â Sean‑‑ I mean arch‑‑ sorry.Â I cover the Pac‑12.
COACH MILLER:Â You don't have to worry about that.Â Everybody calls me Sean.
Q.Â A lot of people are new to following college basketball until March, and then you have all these new fans.Â A lot of people think Dayton is kind of a small school and a small conference and doesn't have much history.Â We know here that that's not true.Â What's your big sales pitch to those kind of people?
COACH MILLER:Â You know, I don't know.Â I think branding of a program in any program is important, and you're always on a quest to put yourself in the best light that you can.Â I don't necessarily know if I have to do that right now.Â We're in the best light we could possibly be in.
I think it gives great credibility to what we're doing there.Â I also think it brings out the best at the University of Dayton, which is its administration, its fans, its supporters and alums.Â When that game tips off on Thursday night, I have no idea how we'll play, we'll have the loudest people in the building.
It doesn't matter, wherever we go ‑ Maui, Charleston, Buffalo‑ we were swamped in Buffalo by Syracuse.Â They found a way.Â They broke through.Â You can hear them at all times.
So it's a very, very unique place.Â And the great thing is this is the stage that everyone wants to be on.Â It's a great time for the university to bring up some of the things that are special about it, whether they happened last year or 15 years from now.
But I think the great thing about this game is sustainability.Â We have to sustain it to keep ourselves sort of in this light, and that's kind of our quest.
Q.Â Archie, Johnny has sort of shortened his bench a little bit in the two NCAA Tournament games.Â You're playing, I think, 11 guys double‑digit minutes.Â How much can your depth be an advantage for you in this game?
COACH MILLER:Â I hope so.Â I think part of our depth maybe can overwhelm you during a game, but I think part of our depth has overwhelmed everyone all season in terms of being able to get here.
We're fresh.Â We've got a lot of guys that play in the game, which means that you have the ability to practice well because the guys aren't either pointing fingers, mad at the coach.Â There's a lot of things that go into playing people.
There's not much difference in my mind in 3 through 8 either.Â I think at times, when you can have number 7, 8, and 9 help you win a game, the practice on Monday is a lot better.Â That's what we've been able to do all season.Â It hasn't been nine, ten guys wear you out throughout the course of the game.Â But I think what's happened is 9, 10, 11 guys has been able to be successful and our team has been able to be ready every time out because of that.
I also think the NCAA Tournament with the media timeouts and the amount of time that is spent through the full‑timeouts and whatnot, I'm not sure if depth's really an issue.Â I think, once you get late in the year, you're fresh.Â You're not talking about a lot.
When you're on this stage, it's adrenaline.Â Part of it is Syracuse played about six guys, had great chemistry.Â I think sometimes rotations are about the coach.Â Our rotation is sort of figure out who's playing the best and then keep him in there.
Q.Â Archie, since I do cover the Pac‑12 and you were there not too long ago, did you see this coming where they've got three teams in the Sweet 16?Â Did you see that building, because the league had been down a little bit?
COACH MILLER:Â It goes in waves out on the west coast.Â In my opinion, early entries into the NBA draft there is probably more punishable than any place in the country just due to the fact that the entire west coast depends on one league, so to speak.
And the talent at UCLA and the talent at Arizona, Colorado, Stanford, Cal, I mean, they have great players.Â You're going to have an Allen Crabbe, you're going to have a Derrick Williams every once in a while, the Kevin Loves of the world, the Russell Westbrook.Â They're all going to go in phases.
But in the Pac‑12 it's a little harder because if you have a down year in California where a class or two aren't as strong, at times you can take a dip, and you may have to go somewhere else to get some players.
When we entered the Pac‑12, I want to say my first year, when I was with Coach Sendek at Arizona State, I believe the Pac‑10 got more bids than it had in the history of the conference.Â USC was in the Sweet 16.Â I think Tony Bennett at Washington State advanced.Â UCLA was in the Final Four.Â Stanford at the time, I think, I mean, there were so many good players.Â It did, it took a little dip.
And then my second stint in the Pac‑10 at Arizona, our first year was down.Â I think our second year, we may have carried the flagship at Arizona into the Elite Eight that year.
But you could see the young talent coming, and then very swiftly on, as I've been at Dayton, the Pac‑12 with the addition of Colorado and Utah has emerged as a power.Â There's great players out there and great coaches.
Q.Â Coach in the first two games, Stanford sort of packed it in against New Mexico and Kansas to take away stuff at the rim.Â But at the same time, those two teams couldn't hurt them on the perimeter.Â You have a lot of good three‑pointer shooters.Â What do you think of their three‑point defense?Â Pretty long.Â How do you match up in that area?
COACH MILLER:Â I don't know how we match up.Â They'll play some different defenses.Â They'll switch back and forth.Â Their coverages on ball screens really depend on sort of how you use them and what you're doing.Â So we're going to have to get a feel through the game on how they play us.
But we're going to play our way.Â We're built to play a certain way.Â We have a lot of versatility.Â We have a lot of different guys that can do things.Â I think the biggest thing to the game will be our pace, our style of play, and how unselfish are we going to be.
When the ball moves, we move.Â We can play on the run.Â We can play on offense with just about anybody.Â As long as we're sharing it and we take good shots and we're playing the right way, we'll kind of live with that.
THE MODERATOR:Â Thank you, Coach.
COACH MILLER:Â Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:Â At this time, we'll get started with the press conference for the Dayton student‑athletes.Â We've been joined by senior forward Devin Oliver and also senior guard Vee Sanford.
Q.Â Vee, tell me about your coach.Â How does he affect you guys on the court?Â How does he get you prepared for the game?
VEE SANFORD:Â He's a really detailed guy.Â You know, we go over scouting, all through everybody on the team.
He's a really passionate guy as well.Â So he does the best as he can to prepare us.Â It kind of reflects us on how we play, very passionate, very hard working, a blue collar team.
So he's a blue collar guy who comes to work every day, business‑like approach.Â That's how we are.
Q.Â For both players, I don't know whether you've gone over this, how much you've gone over the scouting reports on Stanford or how much tape you've seen of them, but can you tell us what you know about their personnel?
VEE SANFORD:Â We know that they're a really good team.Â Randle's a really good guard.Â Their bigs are really skilled, and they change their defenses up.Â They played in the Pac‑12, so that's a really good conference.
It's just going to be a really good game, and they're a really good team.Â So we have a lot of respect for them.
DEVIN OLIVER:Â To add on to what Vee said, just a good team.Â They're very well coached, Coach Dawkins.Â They're big, long, big guards.Â They're strong inside.
Q.Â Was there ever a point toward the end of the season or going into the tournament when you see your seed, and there's all these big guys that you're supposed to be playing, that you guys kind of say, Why not us?
DEVIN OLIVER:Â Most definitely.Â At first we were really excited to be in the tournament.Â And then as a group, we kind of got together, we're a very confident group.Â We know what we're capable of.Â We know we can play with anybody on any given night as long as we're ready.
Once we got that first win under our belt, it was kind of just let's keep this going.Â Let's just continue to do what we do every day.Â I think that's the most important thing, not to stray away from who we are, just be ourselves, and it's benefited us.
VEE SANFORD:Â Going along with what D‑Mo said, we definitely feel like we belong because we work hard.Â It would be different if we didn't work hard, but we feel like we put the hours in and the time and the sacrifice to, Why not us?Â So we feel like we put in enough work to be here.
Q.Â For both players, some fans don't realize what a big‑time program you guys are.Â Can you describe why you are a big‑time program and not otherwise?
DEVIN OLIVER:Â Yeah, most definitely.Â We have an incredible fan base.Â I think that's one of the major things.Â At our school, basketball is the sport.Â We have 13,000 fans that come to every game, win or lose.
Early in the '60s and '70s and even '80s, guys like Roosevelt Chapman and Don Donohor teams, there's a really rich history and tradition with this program.
Unfortunately, it's taken us this long to get back to where we should be every year, but it's a very proud program.Â We're just happy to have given the fans in our community what they've been waiting for.
VEE SANFORD:Â You know, the community really helps build the team.Â Like Devin said, we have a great tradition.Â We sell out just about every game, 13,000 or more.
I think that's what a lot of people don't realize.Â You hear Dayton, Ohio, and you wonder where that is.Â But if you come there to any of our home games, you'll be blown away on how great our crowds are.
Q.Â This is for both of you.Â You know, I know the first two games were emotional.Â You kind of had the David versus Goliath thing going on, the underdog, and now, at least seeding‑wise, this looks like a fairly even match.Â Is it different preparing for that?Â I don't know if it's hard to get up for because it's the NCAA Tournament, but do you have to guard against at least subconsciously, maybe underestimating Stanford?
VEE SANFORD:Â There's no underestimating Stanford because we watched them play and they're a really hungry team.Â We see how they out‑competed Kansas in their previous game.Â We're not underestimating them at all because they're just as hungry as we are.
I think they're a 10 seed so they kind of have a chip on their shoulder.Â You can tell how they play.Â We're going to see a hard and well‑fought game.
DEVIN OLIVER:Â Just to add onto that, you mentioned the David‑and‑Goliath type feel, but I think the most important thing, like Vee said, is to not overlook Stanford.Â We all want to go to the next round.Â We all want to play in the Elite Eight.Â So don't underestimate them.
Then it gets back to continuing what we do best.Â Don't stray away from ourselves.Â Preparing for Stanford like we would prepare for Syracuse or Ohio State.
Q.Â I'm impressed by how much you guys knew about Dayton history and everything because you're awfully young.Â I'm curious, though, since neither of you are from Ohio, can you give me a sense of how much you knew of Dayton basketball before you came and sort of what was the selling point to get you guys to Dayton?
VEE SANFORD:Â Well, I'm from right down the road.Â I'm from Lexington, Kentucky.Â So there really wasn't too much I knew about Dayton.Â I grew up a Kentucky fan and Louisville fan.
But when I transferred from Georgetown, one of the assistants told me about Dayton, Kenny Hunter, assistant for Nebraska, and I kind of looked it up a little bit and saw it was a really good community, a small community based on basketball.Â I felt like that would be a good fit for me.
DEVIN OLIVER:Â You know, in high school I didn't really know too much about it.Â But once I started getting recruited by Gregory and his staff, you start to look into some of the history.
Once I got a chance to look at some of the tradition, and then once I got down there for a game, it was a done deal.Â But you look at guys from the past, and it's just a really interesting tradition.
Thank you guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports