Sneak peek: Summer sit down with URI head coach Archie Miller

Free preview of next week's interview with Coach Miller

URI Coach Archie Miller delivers instructions during the 2023-24 season, year two for Miller, in Kingston. (Courtesy URI Athletics)

Earlier this week, I connected with URI Men’s Basketball Coach Archie Miller during this “offseason” between years two and three in Kingston. The snippet below is a free first question-last question sneak-peek from the full interview which will publish next week for premium Ring of Honor subscribers. Much more to come.

Chris DiSano: Before we turn the page… year one, you arrive and it’s always a slog in a rebuild. Year two, last year, certainly didn’t transpire the way that you, your staff, players and fans would’ve preferred. What were some of the most significant learnings from the disappointing campaign a year ago?

Archie Miller: Well, I think the one think that you learn in this timeframe we’re all in right now that is very unique is there is a lot of coming and going. In the old days, when you went from year one to two or two to three, a lot of your progress was built on returners. And you probably neglect the fact that the improvement from year to year and culture you build from year to year is built in the hard times of guys going through it, getting older, and the offseasons and just… you see that growth and guys get more ingrained in what you’re doing.

Nowadays, it’s such a flash in the pan type recruiting at times - especially in the in the spring in the portal where you’re trying to add talent, need or firepower in our case last year - one of the things that gets neglected is chemistry. And in some cases, more is too much.

As we looked at our team a year ago and tried to build around needing more firepower, skill, and talent, I definitely think those things were accomplished. But what went understated was the backbone of your program being about the hard times you’ll go through and building blocks that you need to be in place so you don’t take a step back. In some case, they can get thrown to the side on your decision making of “We need more shooting, more size, more this…” And in some cases the chemistry doesn’t fit.

Last year’s disappointment for me was our competitiveness, our defensive mindset, and our ability to grow as a program and become one that can compete and battle on a nightly basis took a back seat to us trying to add firepower, shooting, scoring and the ability to play on offense at a higher level. We gave too much to the need on offense and, in some cases, we bypassed that level of defensive intensity, character level, chemistry, role you have to have to help carry us.

Our defense really let us down in year two. It’s probably one of the worst defensive teams I’ve coached and it didn’t have a lot to do with talent. It had a lot to do with chemistry, connectedness, and the ability level to buy-in.

I also think we made significant steps in some areas especially with our offense — and being able to have more firepower on a nightly basis. But we weren’t able to win with our defense. And you have to be able to win with both when you’re trying to accomplish what we’re trying to do.

I think as we go forward and you keep doing that, you live and you learn. But I don’t necessarily think you need 13 guys anymore on scholarship. I think you need the right pieces, a core group that you feel you can compete and beat anybody in your league with, and you have to have the right pieces alongside of them that fit what i would call those the glue roles. Roles where you know guys are going to bring certain levels of things you need that maybe don’t have to do with the scoring.

In times gone by, those guys were developed over time. Now, in modern times, you have to identify the pieces you’re trying to fit. And you have to be able to fit guys into those roles right away - so you have the chemistry quickly and you’re trying to build more of a collective group in a shorter amount of time.

CD: Okay, let’s end with this… Celtics versus Mavs, who’s your pick?

Miller: I’ll go with the C’s on that one… I think it’s their time. I think it’ll be a deeper series and have to earn it in more than five… I’ll say they win it at home in seven.

CD: I like it.

We unpack this question and cover many more next week as the remainder of this sit-down is premium content for Ring of Honor subscribers. Come hoop with us!