Neil Sullivan had a good answer for every question but the last one in a press conference at the Frericks Center on Saturday, hours after coach Archie Miller left the Dayton Flyers to take the reins of the Indiana Hoosiers.
“Are you going to get a taller coach?” a reporter joked.
Sullivan laughed. Archie Miller was many things in six seasons at Dayton — a two-time Atlantic 10 champion, a four-time NCAA tournament participant and a five-time winner in the big dance — but he wasn’t the tallest coach in the country. The 5-foot-11 guard from North Carolina State didn’t need size to excel when he played or when he coached. He brought the same attitude to his team.
Now the search begins for the next coach who can replicate the Miller magic. Dayton went outside the box six years ago when hiring Miller, a 32-year-old assistant under his brother Sean at Arizona. That doesn’t mean they’ll seek another little-known name.
Sullivan said, “2017 is different than 2011. You deal with the set of facts that you’re given. You trust the process. You work the process. I don’t want to speculate about how you do one thing or the other. You try to find the best coach you can for the University of Dayton. That’s what I intend to do.”
Miller’s tenure was longer than some in the Atlantic 10 conference — VCU just lost Will Wade to LSU after two seasons — but it’s the shortest at Dayton since Jim O’Brien’s five-year tenure (1989-94). Oliver Purnell coached nine seasons before leaving for Clemson. Brian Gregory coached eight seasons before going to Georgia Tech.
“We prefer consistency,” Sullivan said. “We like consistency. We like to retain our head coaches, but it’s part of the business. If you’re in this business long enough, it’s what you do. We’re prepared to do it and do it well.”
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Sullivan said he and his staff will handle the search for a new coach but didn’t rule out hiring a search firm. Who might Dayton hire? Here are a few names:
• Pat Kelsey: The Winthrop coach, 41, was almost the Massachusetts coach but changed his mind at the last minute Thursday. He has Ohio ties, in that he’s from Cincinnati and played at Xavier. He’s 102-59 in five seasons at Winthrop.
• Anthony Grant: A former Flyer, Grant, 50, is now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was 76-25 in three seasons at Virginia Commonwealth and 117-85 in six seasons at Alabama.
• Kevin Kuwik, Tom Ostrom or Allen Griffin: Miller’s assistant coaches have spent the last six years with him in Dayton. None have been a head coach.
• Steve Forbes: Forbes, 52, is 51-20 in two seasons at East Tennessee State, which reached the NCAA tournament this season.
• John Brannen: The 43-year-old Northern Kentucky coach was 24-11 this season and guided the Norse to the NCAA tournament for the first time.
• Luke Murray: The second-year Xavier assistant coach is more than just the son of actor Bill Murray. He also has worked at Rhode Island, Towson, Wagner and Arizona.
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