Sean Miller knows a thing or two about Xavier basketball. On Thursday, he will get his first shot at taking on his former club as Arizona is set to meet the Musketeers in a Sweet 16 matchup.
Miller was with Xavier from 2001-2009, with the last five seasons being as head coach. It was his first college basketball head coaching job after spending three seasons as the associate head coach under Thad Matta. Coincidentally, Arizona knocked Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes out of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
Xavier reached the NCAA Tournament four times under Miller that included an Elite Eight run. The Musketeers also won three regular season conference championships and one conference tournament championship in his time.
Here is Miller’s five seasons as the Xavier head coach, by the numbers.
To this day, Xavier has only had one 30-win season in its 94 years of basketball. Miller earned that mark in his fourth year with the team, breaking the Musketeers’ previous record of 28 wins set in 1989-90. Since coming to Arizona, Miller has already had three seasons with 30-plus wins.
In the 167 games as head coach, Miller earned a .719 winning percentage (120-47). In his time with the Wildcats, Miller owns a .761 winning percentage (162-51).
Miller’s first season was also his worst, in which he was still five games above .500 (17-12). He has not had a losing season in his head coaching career.
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Miller earned an Atlantic-10 Conference Coach of the Year award after he led the Musketeers to their second consecutive regular season title that included a 14-2 conference record. Miller has already earned two conference coach of the year awards since coming to Arizona.
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One player from Miller’s Xavier rosters went on to the next level and played in the NBA. Derrick Brown played three seasons at Xavier and was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Charlotte Bobcats. He hasn’t played in a game since 2012. Miller has seen five players make the NBA that he used to coach at Arizona. Aaron Gordon, Nick Johnson, Solomon Hill, Derrick Williams and Grant Jerrett are all on current NBA rosters.
Xavier was the best team in the Atlantic-10 conference three consecutive seasons under Miller. 2006-07 was the first time they earned the best regular season conference record since 2003.
In his five seasons as the Xavier head coach, Miller took his team to the NCAA Tournament four times. In that time, the Musketeers went 6-4 in the tournament, making it as far as the Elite Eight as the three-seed in the West Region. The Elite Eight is as far as the Musketeers have ever been in the tournament, reaching it once before in 2004. Miller has also been to the NCAA Tournament four times with the Wildcats. He currently is 10-3 in the Tournament that includes two Elite Eight appearances.
Seven is the highest AP ranking that Xavier ever earned in Miller’s time. Their best finish in the AP rankings came in 2008, when they finished 12th. That same year they reached the Elite Eight. Arizona has been the best ranked team in the land under Miller and finished as the fourth best team in the country in 2014.
The Musketeers allowed 63.8 points per game in the five years that Miller was at the helm. Their best season in opponents’ scoring average was allowing just 61.9 points per game in 2008-09. At Arizona, Miller’s teams have allowed 64 points per game.
Xavier scored 73 points per game in Miller’s five years. Their best season in scoring average was 76.3 points per game in 2006-07. They outscored their opponents by an average of 11.7 points in 2007-08, a season-best under Miller. Similar numbers have occurred in his time at Arizona, as his teams have averaged 73.4 points per game. This season, the Wildcats are winning by an average of 17.8 points.
Miller didn’t have a single player score 500 or more points in a season at Xavier. In his first year, Stanley Burrell led the team with 369 points, a 12.7 average. In the last six seasons, four players have scored 500 points in a season for Miller. Derrick Williams scored the most when he led the 2010-11 team with 741 points.