After a few days of breaking down tape of Syracuse, Dayton’s first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament, Flyers head coach Archie Miller’s biggest concern with the Orangemen is somehow finding a way to keep their three best shooters in check when they meet Friday in St. Louis.
“If you just talk about us defending them, they have a three-headed monster out there on their perimeter,” Miller said. “Between [Trevor] Cooney, [Michael] Gbinije, and also Malachi Richardson, they have three guys that can really light it up. In my opinion, Gbinije may be one of the biggest problems out there, with his size and being really a point guard for them, but all three can really light it up, and that’s going to be a challenge, keeping those guys in check. And I think we’re going to have to find a way to rebound the ball, because I think a guy like [Tyler] Roberson can really hurt us.”
Offensively, Miller is happy he has more than a day to prepare for Syracuse’s famed 2-3 zone, unlike when Dayton upset the Orangemen in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
“You can’t make it bigger than it is, but it is bigger than it is, because you have to be able to function for forty minutes and get quality looks and not turn the ball over,” Miller said of Syracuse’s zone. “You don’t see anything like it because you can’t duplicate their length even at the guard positions. And they play it so well, they can adjust to just about any kind of look that you see, because that’s all they play. It’s like man-to-man you can change up your man principles for scouting or what not. They do the same with their zone, so during a game, you have to be able to adjust a little bit, and preparing against it, because we played against them a couple years in the tournament on a one-day prep, I feel like we had some good concepts and some good things that we did. We have different personal now, but we have a few more days here to get organized, and we’re going to spend most of our time really dealing with our offense, because I think it’s really that important.”
Having made the tournament for the third consecutive season, Miller talked about the advantage of being able to play experienced players this year.
“I think it’s very very important to have guys that understand what it’s like to play on this stage, because it can get consuming with the media, the hype, the open locker room sessions. You can really get caught up in all the emotion, and by the time all the games roll around, it comes and goes so fast,” Miller said. “And I think, for our guys to be able to understand what’s coming at them, for our guys to understand what it’s like to win on this stage, how hard it is to win on this stage, to me, is comforting to know we should have a confidence level about what we do works, and stick to the script, and don’t change for the moment be yourself.”
Miller is a graduate of North Carolina State and took time to talk about the Wolfpack’s famous 1983 National Championship team led by the late Jim Valvano.
“It’s an incredible story, and it’s touching for me, because I lived down there. I lived in that program,” Miller said. “The memories, the former players, the former coaches are all sort of attributed to that run. It’s maybe the most magical run that’s ever been made. And you look up, and you see the banner when you’re practicing in Reynolds Coliseum with the National Championship. It just kind of always reminds you if you keep showing up every day, and you believe in one another, and you’re tough and you’re together, anything can happen. And we’ve had moments like that here at Dayton. We had an amazing run a couple years ago, last year’s team was a great story, and I think you can take a few lessons about the ups and the downs of a season, and at the end of the day, you never really know what can happen but you got to keep showing up, and I think that’s what’s remained so special, that it really applies to everyone.”
This post brought to you by Jim Rome.