One of the hot stories heading into the NCAA Sweet 16 is the Miller brothers. Rick Reilly of ESPN.com did a story on Sean and Archie, the first brothers to coach in the Sweet 16 in the same year. Much of the story was on their father, John.
USA Today also featured the two brothers - Sean the University of Arizona coach and Archie the coach at Dayton.
All of the attention given to the family this week got me to thinking about the many years of covering all the Millers at Blackhawk High School and beyond. Heck, I could probably wallpaper a room with all of the articles I did on them. Whether with Sean or Archie playing, or with John coaching, the Millers were in 18 championship games (13 WPIAL and five state). I figured out I covered 16 of those for the Post-Gazette and watched the other two. Geez. I guess that just says I've been doing this a long, long time and I'm definitely getting a "little" older. But just a little.
So as we head into Miller Time tonight in the Sweet 16, let's play I remember when ...
**** The coaching all started for Sean. He was coaching a team of 8th or 9th graders in the old Ozanam Summer League in the Hill District in the late 1980s. I took my nephew to watch a game and remember saying "Isn't it obviouls Sean will definitely be a coach someday?" Sean and Pitt teammate Darelle Porter ended up coaching a team of 9th graders that were the Pittsburgh JOTS AAU team. (The picture below is of Sean and Darelle at a JOTS practice at the Pitt Field House. Don't you love Sean's short shorts?). Run by J.O. Stright, this team was the start of the JOTS. The team, which had Valley star Tom Pipkins, eventually went to nationals and did well.
**** Sean helped Blackhawk win its first WPIAL title in 1986. It was a memorable game as Blackhawk beat Ellwood CIty, 71-70. It was a great dual between Sean and his friend, Dan Aloi. Aloi scored 39 points and Sean scored 14 of his 20 in the second half to bring Blackhawk back from a 14-point halftime deficit. Aloi had a half-court shot, I think, bounce off the rim at the buzzer.
**** Sean led Blackhawk to the WPIAL title game the following year. Sean had a terrific senior year but he didn't have much help that year and Blackhawk lost to Aliquippa, 51-37. Sean was averaging 29 a game but was held to 10 as Aliquippa surprisingly played a 2-3 zone, shadowing Sean everywhere he went. (Photo is of Sean driving against Aliquippa and Willie Lindsey).
**** Undefeated Blackhawk (with Dante Calabria) lost to Perry in a great game in the state semifinals at the Pitt Field House in 1991. Sean, a Pitt player then who was in the stands, was so upset near the end of the game that he threw his keys on the court (I think he still denies this, ha ha)
**** Archie (pictured) was the giant Franklin killer. As a sophomore he scored a three-point play with three seconds left to beat Franklin in the 1995 state playoffs second round. As a junior, he hit the winning shot with four seconds left in the second overtime to beat Franklin in the semifinals. As a senior, he scored 35 to beat Franklin in the first round.
**** Archie was a seldom-used freshman point guard, but was put into the game late in the 1994 WPIAL final against Beaver Falls because point guard Aidan McCann fouled out. Oh-oh. He dribbled the ball out of bounds off his foot and committed a key turnover in a Blackhawk loss (sorry to bring that up, Arch).
**** One day, I asked Archie how he got his name because his real first name is Ryan. "I don't know, one day when I was little Sean just looked at me when I was doing something and said 'You look like you should be an Archie.' And the name just stuck."
**** Sean told me his free-throw routine "one ... two ... three ... elbow to knee." (The photo is of Sean in his sophomore year at Blackhawk. Funny to see those old photos, isn't it? Although I don't think Archie changed all that much from high school).
**** I got Sean to be a judge for the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic slam dunk contest.
**** The first time I saw Sean. I was in high school and attended the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic as a fan in 1978. Sean was in third grade and put on a ballhandling show at halftime - with his Dad running the show. A few years later Sean was on the "Tonight Show" doing a ballhandling show.
**** Ten years after Sean's show, I was helping run the Dapper Dan Roundball Classic and got third-grader Archie to put on a ballhandling show with Baldy Regan's sons - Dan and Sean. Part of the show was Archie shooting at one end. I still remember the crowd going nuts when the tiny Archie canned about five in a row from past the foul line - as a third-grader. I still remember the Regans spinning balls on an umbrella and then opening the umbrella.
The picture below is of Archie and Sean in 1988.
More of I remember when ...
**** Archie came to a hospital and then the airport for Fabulous 5 group pictures.
**** Sean came to Mount Washington for the Fabulous 5 group photo in 1987.
**** Sean and Darelle Porter were hanging out at the Dapper Dan Roundball hotel in the late 1980s, trying to recruit Don MacLean, a high school star from California who had Pitt on his final list.
**** Talking to Sean once he was at Pitt and Bob Smizik criticized him in a column after a loss to Georgetown. "I'd like to see what Smizik would do against Georgetown's press," said a perturbed Sean. "Me, too, but I don't think he has any eligibility left," I said.
**** Both Sean and Archie were two-time Fabulous 5 selections.
**** Both Sean and Archie had high school games when they were virtually unstoppable.
**** Sean would've had 2,000 career points if they had the 3-point line in his days at Blackhawk.
**** Talking to Sean, watching Sean and always noticing how he did things in a classy way - even to this day.
**** Talking to Archie, watching Archie and always noticing how he did things in a classy way - even to this day.
**** Archie played with Kobe. Yes, THAT Kobe. In 1996, the McDonald's All-American game was in Pittsburgh. Kobe Bryant played for the East team and John Miller was the coach. The team had only nine players for the first practice because Tim Thomas was not there. Archie (pictured) was a junior at Blackhawk then, and John brought him along to make 10. I remember Archie making some 3-pointers in a scrimmage.
**** People would say Archie was too little to play at North Carolina State. He only ended up as one of the best 3-point shooters in school history.
**** Talking once to Jay Bilas and him calling Archie one of the best shooters in the country.
**** Sean played in the feature game of the 1987 Dapper Dan Roundball. "How did [Mechanicsburg's] Sean Muto make this game?" we wondered to each other.
**** Sean was Xavier's coach and came to the City League championship game to recruit Schenley's DeJuan Blair and D.J. Kennedy.
**** Seeing Sean way out at a Yough game when he was recruiting Ben McCauley.
**** Archie was a cover boy for a magazine I published (Pennsylvania Prep) (Picture is of Archie with Perry's Courtney Wallace, who went on to play at Duquesne University)
**** Talking to Sean on a Thursday when he was the coach at Xavier and telling him that I had a son, also named Sean, who would be a freshman at Xavier in the fall and had an interest in being a team manager. "Tell him when he gets here for orientation we'll sit down and talk and he can do whatever he wants." Four days later, Sean Miller took the Arizona job. So, no manager for Sean White. Ha ha.
**** I talked to Sean Miller when he got T.J. McConnell after he left Duquesne. "He's the last piece of the puzzle for what could be a Final Four team." Sean thought T.J. would start from day one. He was right on. We'll see this weekend about the Final Four thing. I say Arizona makes it.
**** And finally, I will always remember how both Sean and Archie were a pleasure to deal with. Oh, the memories.