'Something that I have to do': Sean Miller's back. Here's what happens next at Xavier

·6 min read

Questions always come with change and as the second chapter in the Sean Miller era at Xavier officially started on Friday, many of those questions met Miller and he had a lot to say about what happens next.

There are a hundred little things that need to happen and will happen over the coming weeks, and many of those things remain uncertain.

But Miller's done this before, and now the process is rolling like a stone downhill.

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First, Miller has to assemble a coaching staff. Because he was away from college basketball last year, he's not bringing a staff with him to Xavier.

It's not out of the question that Miller would consider keeping at least some of Xavier's current staff intact.

Xavier head coach Sean Miller speaks during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller speaks during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

All three of Xavier's current assistant coaches are intriguing. Dante Jackson played for Miller at Xavier. Danny Peters was an assistant at Arizona under Miller. And you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in college basketball who has a bad thing to say about Jonas Hayes and everything he brings to a team.

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"I've talked to all of them, I know them well. God, I respect all of them so much," said Miller, when asked about potential turnover on the coaching staff. "But I almost felt like my initial role is just to let them go. Let them focus on what they should be focused on which is guiding this team to the end.

"... Today's like that first day that changes that a little because when they have practice tomorrow, if they have practice tomorrow, as bizarre as that might feel, I would attend that practice to watch, just to be around the players, be around the staff."

Xavier head coach Sean Miller speaks during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller speaks during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

It's a unique scenario, especially because the Musketeers are still playing basketball, headed next week to Madison Square Garden for the National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

"But I know these guys," said Miller. "Danny Peters has been with me before. Obviously, Jonas, his reputation precedes him. And then Dante, I recruited him and coached him as well. And look, you evaluate, a lot of times, a team by who's on the team and the staff that was responsible for bringing them and they have a lot of terrific players."

Miller met with the current team just before his introduction on Friday. It's not fair to Xavier's current roster to try and decipher where their heads are at regarding the future while they're still playing. There are sure to be transfers, that's a part of college basketball in 2022, but there will be guys that want to stick around. One of those guys was incoming freshman Kam Craft, who re-committed to Miller and Xavier on Friday.

Xavier head coach Sean Miller speaks during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller speaks during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

"As much as I'd like to say I know what's exactly going to happen, I don't know what's gonna happen," said Miller in regard to what his roster will look like next season. "I think it's a matter of their families and themselves getting the chance to know me in a quick way.

"But I know this: if they haven't had a great experience at Xavier, I would be surprised. It's one of the gifts of this place."

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Recruiting is also underway as new names enter the transfer portal every day.

"I'm just starting that process right now," Miller said. "Moving forward, that certainly becomes a high priority. But I said it earlier, the number one priority right now is the players that we already have. Getting a chance to know them, talk to them, and figure out where they're at in the hopes that a lot of those guys will return."

A redefined style of play

Xavier fans remember what Miller's teams looked like 13 years ago. They saw it at Arizona, too.

Will it look the same? Has it changed?

Miller made it pretty clear that the way he wants to play has evolved.

And that's at both ends of the floor.

Miller's largely responsible for bringing the pack-line defense to Xavier, according to Rick Broering, publisher of MusketeerReport.com. Chris Mack carried on the pack-line tradition. So did Travis Steele.

"Maybe not," Miller said when asked if Xavier will still be a pack-line team. "There's versions of the pack-line, you know, you can extend a little bit more."

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Miller, who waded into the media waters during his year off with regular podcast appearances alongside his brother, Archie, who was named last week the head coach at Rhode Island, spoke recently on a podcast about his belief that elite offense trumps elite defense, and he also explained the importance of having multiple point guards who can shoot, score and really control the pace of a game.

"There's some things I really believe in," said Miller, "but when I said what I said earlier, I've spent a lot of time this year just with basketball. I was lucky because I had my brother there with me. And we went and watched different people, we watched different games, talked a lot.

"And it was very helpful to say when the next opportunity comes, wherever that would be, what can I do better (or) differently?"

One of the things he wants to do is play faster.

Xavier head coach Sean Miller walks with his wife, Amy, during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Xavier head coach Sean Miller walks with his wife, Amy, during his introduction to Xavier fans, Friday, March 25, 2022, at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

"I think that playing faster – so if you watch the tempo, we didn't walk the ball up ever, any team that I've ever coached – but there is one more level to playing speed-wise," said Miller. "And I really want to do that. To do that, sometimes the defense has to extend a little bit more. Because that forces tempo as well, those two are tied together."

If you watched the teams Miller's coached, he said, their opposition would have to work hard to get a shot, often at the end of the shot clock.

"If you want to run, it's like, 'Wait a second, you do that on defense? What about offense?'" said Miller. "I think that fitting better together for me ... is something that I have to do."

In regard to Miller's comments on the importance of the backcourt and having two guards that can dictate the way he wants to play, he said, "The two point guards, that doesn't mean identical point guards. There's so many different versions of a point guard and a combo guard. But having multiple guys out there allows you, I think, to play faster and be more efficient. And then defensively, you have so much more flexibility on being able to guard."

In the coming weeks, a lot will be determined. Decisions will be made and some of that uncertainty will start to become more certain.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Recruiting, transfers, coaches, style of play: Sean Miller's plan