Thursday, July 8, 2004

Miller waiting in wings for XU

Assistant good bet to succeed Matta

By Dustin Dow
Enquirer staff writer

Sean Miller (left) has been Xavier's associate head coach for all three of the program's seasons under the leadership of Thad Matta.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/JEFF SWINGER
Sean Miller is the most likely candidate to replace Thad Matta as the Musketeers' coach, according to a source who said Xavier officials began discussing Miller as a primary prospect when it became apparent Matta would leave for Ohio State.

Miller, an XU assistant, could be hired by the end of the week. Xavier athletic director Dawn Rogers met with university vice president John Kucia for more than an hour Wednesday at Cintas Center.

"We're going to move quickly," said Rogers, who was told by Matta Wednesday evening that he accepted the Ohio State job. Rogers declined to say if Miller was Xavier's lead candidate but acknowledged that he would be considered.

"I think Sean will obviously be a candidate," Rogers said. "He's been a part of our program. He is an outstanding coach, and we will naturally consider him."

Miller could not be reached on his cell phone Wednesday.

Rogers said she already has received outside interest in the job, but no interviews have been scheduled.

Miller has been Matta's second-in-command at Xavier since Matta arrived in 2001. In all three of those seasons, Miller's title has been that of associate head coach, a first for Xavier.

"I would love for him to be the next coach," said Xavier sophomore Justin Cage. "He's a great guy and a great coach."

Rogers' potential willingness to promote Miller in a quick manner is based partly on the delicate situation of needing a coach this late in the summer, with the July evaluation period beginning today. She also is impressed with Miller's coaching pedigree and the control he had in Xavier's program during the last three seasons.

At 35, Miller has coached 12 seasons of college basketball, five of them as an assistant at North Carolina State under Herb Sendek before joining Matta at Xavier. Prior to coaching at N.C. State, Miller was an assistant at Pittsburgh, Miami University and Wisconsin.

He might be better known for his playing days at the University of Pittsburgh, where Miller, a point guard, was the 1988 Big East Freshman of the Year and an All-Big East player his senior season.

Of immediate importance for Miller will be the task of assembling his staff, particularly because of the current evaluation period during which having coaches in gyms is imperative. Whether Xavier assistants John Groce and Alan Major remain with Miller or follow Matta to Ohio State remains in question. All three Xavier assistants have been paramount figures in Xavier's recruiting, including for this year's freshman class, which ranks as one of the best in school history.

Highly sought Derrick Brown of Chaminade-Julienne High School said he's still interested in Xavier, "But they're not as high as they used to be."

If Miller is hired, Brown said he will discuss with him where Xavier stands in his recruitment.

Groce is expected to follow Matta to Ohio State, while Major and director of operations Bill Comar could remain at Xavier if Miller is hired.


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