Sean Miller may have made his name when he coached Xavier to the tournament four-years in a row, but he’s kept it going at Arizona. Last year Miller coached the Wildcats to a 21-game win streak to start off the season, a ranking as high as No. 2 in the AP Top 25 during the season and a No. 1 March Madness seed in the west region. And despite being Brandon Ashley-less, Miller worked from the sidelines to help Arizona bypass Weber State, Gonzaga and San Diego State before falling to Wisconsin by one in OT in the Elite Eight round of the tournament.
Heading into this season, Miller and the Wildcats received a No. 2 preseason ranking. They finished out regular season play atop the PAC-12 and No. 5 in the nation – posting a record of 31-3 overall, 16-2 in the conference and Pac-12 regular season and conference tournament champs.
Here’s what you need to know Coach Sean Miller:
1. Miller’s a Two-Time John R. Wooden PAC-12 Coach of the Year
This season marked Miller’s sixth year at the helm of the Wildcats. Since taking over the program in 2009, Miller has had four consecutive recruiting classes that each ranked in the top 10 nationally. He has the best wins per season average, 25.8, in program history for a coach with at least four years with the university.
Under Miller, Arizona has reached the 20-win mark every year except Miller’s first season. The Wildcats also achieved two of the top-five single season win totals in program history with 30 wins in 2010-11 and 33 last year. Miller has also reached two Elite Eight tournament appearances in his tenure at Arizona and his 113 wins in four years is the second-best in team history.
In 2011 and 2014, Miller coached the Wildcats to regular season championships and was also named as a John R. Wooden Coach of the Year for the conference.
He is known for his “A Player’s Program” philosophy where everyone is focused on three specific areas:
1. Honoring the past players and coaches who laid the groundwork.
2. Ensuring that the current student-athletes have the best means and opportunities to maximize their potential.
3. Attracting high-level prospective student-athletes who will embrace the challenge of building on the program’s storied tradition.
2. Miller Turned Down the Maryland Coaching Opportunity to Stay at Arizona
In 2011, following his second season at Arizona where the Wildcats finished with a loss to UConn in the Elite Eight tournament round, Miller had the opportunity to replace Maryland coach Gary Williams. While taking over the Terrapins program was intriguing and would send him closer to his home state of Pennsylvania, Miller chose to stay in Tuscon. He told USA Today:
It was an opportunity that I really felt was in the best interests of my family and myself to at least pause and consider. By doing that, it also really strengthens your belief in the place that you’re at. I paused and considered for 40 hours. Nobody is happier to be head coach at any place in the country than I am here at the University of Arizona. If the deeper meaning of this weekend is that I’m here for the long haul, unconditionally, that’s what that means. I am.
While speculations arose about Miller leveraging the offer to increase his salary at Arizona – his $2,627,806 per year salary makes him the 10th highest paid NCAA men’s basketball coach, according to Business Insider – Miller squashed the rumors when he said, “It was not my intention to leverage Greg Byrne.”
But the rumor mill didn’t stop at Byrne, who is Arizona’s athletic director, they also targeted Miller’s wife Amy after she tweeted about having desert allergies the week prior to the Maryland opportunity. Miller said his family loves Tucson and his three sons “would be crushed to go anywhere else…and my wife is in that same category.”
I feel bad that she had to deal with any criticism. That was very undeserved. If Greg Bryne and my wife took a hit because of me, shame on me, because that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
3. Miller Played at Pitt And Was Part of The Play That Led to Bill Raftery’s Famous Phrase, “Send it in Jerome!”
Miller is regarded as the best three-point shooter in Pitt basketball history. During his career with the Panthers, which spanned from 1987-1922, Miller totaled 1,282 points, 744 assists, 261 rebounds and 102 steals over the course of 128 games. He averaged 10.0 points, 5.8 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game, was the No. 18 all-time scorer in program history, stands third in the Big East for career assists, and was ranked 10th among career Division I free throw shooters – he shot 88.5 percent from the line.
In his freshman season, Miller helped lead the Panthers to a Big East regular season title and was named to the conference’s all-Rookie team. As a senior he was named the team’s captain.
During his 4-year career, Miller helped the Panthers to three NCAA Tournament appearances and was a key component in one of the most famous plays in college basketball history, delivering the assist to Jerome Lane for “The Dunk,” which Bill Raftery immortalized with the phrase, “Send it in, Jerome!”
In 2005 he became a member of the Pitt All-Centennial Team.
4. His Younger Brother Archie Miller Is The Dayton Flyers Head Coach
The 46-year-old coach isn’t the only one in his family at the helm of a Division I college men’s basketball program. His younger brother Archie, 36, is the head coach of the Dayton Flyers.
Similar to his big brother, Archie played point guard in college from 1998-2002. The following year he started his coaching career as an assistant at Western Kentucky before returning to his alma mater, NC State, as an assistant coach in 2004. After two years he became an assistant at Arizona State University and then Ohio State before serving as an assistant under his brother at Arizona. Archie left Tuscon in 2011 to coach at Dayton in 2011.
Last season Archie and the 11th-seed Flyers tested the bracketology skills of hoops fans everywhere when they upset 6th-seed Ohio State in the second round and 3rd-seed Syracuse in the third round. Dayton then defeated No. 10 Stanford before falling to No. 1 Florida in the Elite Eight.
And this year the Flyers finished out the season 26-8, 13-5 in the A-10 and conference tournament runners-up. Dayton won its First Four game against Boise State, 56-55, to advance as the No. 11 seed in the South region. They will face No. 6 Providence on Friday, March 20.
5. Miller And His Wife Amy Are High School Sweethearts
Nearly 30 years ago at BlackHawk High School in Pennsylvania, Miller met Amy for the first time. She was a cheerleader for the basketball team and he was a sophomore transfer student and ball player. The two hit it off, dated and eventually got married in 1993.
Miller and Amy have three sons, Austin, Cameron and Braden who were 18, 15 and 12 as of April of last year, according to PlayersWives.com.
And after all these years together, Amy might have ditched the high school cheerleading uniform, but she still openly cheers for her husband through social media – mainly Twitter.
Amy constantly posts about Arizona, Miller as a coach, Miller in the Coaches’ Charity Challenge and Miller as a husband – she tweeted out a picture of his Valentine’s Day gift.
And she’s also verbal about her support and Miller’s high competitiveness.