Dayton coach Archie Miller called it a special opportunity to celebrate his team’s first trip to the Elite Eight in 30 years with his father, John, a retired high school coach from Pennsylvania who is attending the Flyers’ games in Memphis.
The only thing better, in the minds of both Millers, would be for Dayton (26-10) to upset Florida (35-2) in Saturday’s showdown at FedEx Forum and earn a Final Four berth at AT&T Stadium in Arlington along with Arizona, a team coached by Sean Miller, Archie’s older brother.
Both the Flyers and the Wildcats have opportunities Saturday to punch their tickets to JerryWorld.
“This is something that’s pretty special … for our whole family,” Archie Miller said of the potential for a family reunion at next week’s Final Four, April 5 and 7. “Dad’s holding up. It just keeps getting a little bit more crazy with each win.
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“To sit next to him [Thursday night] and watch Sean’s game from that perspective, you could see how tough it is, how emotional it can be, how well you want everyone to do because your son’s actually coaching on the biggest stage. For me, it’s been really fun for him to be around us.”
One of Florida’s buzz phrases this season is “Chasing Greatness,” a goal the Gators define in different ways. Florida, which has won a school-record 29 consecutive games, can set a record for most victories in a season by knocking off Dayton. But the true measure of greatness, to many Gators, will not occur unless they take part in next week’s Final Four in Arlington.
“I think chasing greatness is just being locked in every single moment,” guard Michael Frazier II said. “Not worrying about the past, not worrying about the future. Just trying to dominate every possession and be our best.”
Gators center Patric Young said: “When we talk about chasing greatness, we’re talking about just the goal at hand, the opportunity of what we can achieve … whether it’s being great on a possession or striving to be great a whole game. Just having that mindset has really changed the way our team approaches everything.”
Archie Miller understands why fans consider his team, the No. 11 seed in the South Regional, as the last remaining Cinderella in this year’s NCAA Tournament field. But it’s not a designation he wants to hold in perpetuity at a school that has earned seven Sweet 16 berths in program history.
“Cinderella comes up on a team that hasn’t been there in a while,” Miller said. “If you’re there eight out of nine years and you crack a Sweet 16 a couple of times, they don’t call you a Cinderella. The reason they call us Cinderella is more that we haven’t been here in a long time.
“Hopefully, this run will start a trend of consistency. You want to sustain that. But if they want to call us Cinderella every year and get us to the Elite Eight, I’ll take it.”