University of Dayton coach Archie Miller credits his success to his upbringing in Western Pennsylvania.


Winning is in Ryan "Archie" Miller's blood.

And the third-year University of Dayton men's basketball coach knows that victories cannot come about without hard work, dedication and attention to detail.

Miller grew up in Beaver Falls, Penn., in the shadows of Pittsburgh, where he learned the value of hard work from his father, John, who won 657 games in 35 years at Blackhawk High School. Miller and his older brother, Arizona coach Sean Miller, played for their father.

"Where I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania, it's a prideful place, blue collar," Miller said Friday at the NCAA Tournament, where he has led the Flyers back to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1984.

"The people that you're around every day that aren't involved in sports are probably the toughest people that you're around, whether they're workers or whatnot, but a lot of the families come up with the same thing.

"It's about winning, especially in that town. Winning is everything, and you play that way. You grow up that way. You want to deal with, whether it's athletics or anything, in a way to represent it."

The coaching profession has taken Miller all over the country in the last decade.

After starting his career as an assistant at Western Kentucky (2003-2004), Miller moved on to his alma mater, North Carolina State (2004-2006), then, Arizona State (2006-2007), and Ohio State (2007-2008). Then, Miller joined his brother at Arizona (2009-2011) before becoming only the sixth coach of the Flyers in the last 66 years.

But no matter where Miller has gone, he has never forgotten his roots.

"The city of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania in general, I was very fortunate to grow up there," Miller said. "I think people who grow up there always have a little bit of toughness to them.

"Coming from where I came from, being a small guy who's a point guard, you have to figure a way out to do it. That starts with my dad. There were no excuses ever made about not being able to get the job done. Outworking people, work ethic, competitiveness, figuring a way out to get better every day, that's where it starts off for me."

That work ethic he learned as a point guard comes through in the way he directs the Flyers.

"Sometimes, I want to play," Miller said. "You want to get out there and play. You feel like you can do it. In practice, you're watching guys make mistakes. It's that burn that just goes sort of into you.

"I revolve everything around how I played because it wasn't easy for me. It wasn't easy at all. Understanding how I got to where I got, I look at our players, and I want those guys to do the same thing."

And the players, regardless of age and playing experience, have gotten that message, loud and clear.

"I'll say (he's) passionate about winning," said redshirt junior guard Jordan Seibert, Dayton's leading scorer. "He has a fire to win, and that's one thing that's definitely rubbed off on us this entire year, just his passion and doing whatever it takes to win. Whether he has to get in a drill in practice or he has to yell at somebody, whatever it takes to get us going and get us motivated, he's done it. It's just been a blessing to have somebody who's just as passionate about winning as his players."

Senior guard Vee Sanford added, "I'd definitely say (he's) a blue collar guy, a Pittsburgh guy, so you know he's a really good worker. He gets involved and really animated, but he has a lot of fire, and he gets us motivated just to play hard. It's been great to have him, just to keep us going. He stays on top of us. It's a good benefit to have."

It is Miller's coaching and the work of his players that have pushed the No. 11 Flyers into the Elite Eight after upsetting the Nos. 6, 3 and 10 seeds in the South Region -- Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford, respectively -- in the last eight days.

Now, the Flyers will play the NCAA Tournament's No. 1 overall seed, the Florida Gators, Saturday with the chance of advancing to their first Final Four since 1967.

But beyond that, what has made the journey even more enjoyable for Miller has been sharing it with the man who started it all, his father, John.

"It just keeps getting a little bit crazy around him, I think, to be honest," Miller said. "This is something that's pretty special for not only him, but obviously our whole family. I think everybody's excited about what's going on with us, and then, you turn on the television, there's 16 to play, and Sean's in a really tough game with San Diego State.

"To sit next to him and kind of watch the game from that perspective, you could see how tough it is, how emotional it can be, how well you want everyone to do, not because you want to get your name in the paper, but because your son's actually coaching right now on the biggest stage.

"For me, it's been really fun for him to be around us. I think he gets a little more anxious, and the fact that we're both where we are right now, now, he gets to enjoy it. Believe me, he's taking it all in. There's a lot of people coming out of the woodwork, I'm sure, that he hasn't heard from in a long time, so what better way to enjoy your spring and summer than this?"

Read or Share this story: