Dayton assistant: Our mantra is 'advance'
Posted March 28
Every March an underdog is born but the Dayton Flyers aren't crediting their NCAA ride to a fairy tale.
"Our mantra is advance. [Head coach Archie Miller] preaches advance. I don’t think we questioned it," full-time graduate assistant and former NC State basketball player Simon Harris said Friday.
In three years Miller, who also took the court as a successful college player at North Carolina State, has taken a 26-10, 10-6 in the Atlantic 10, squad to the Elite Eight.
"In January people were counting us out," said Harris. "But we don’t care what the name is on the jersey. We have 13 guys that are ready to attack. We run our system. Defensively we teach the same principals. We practice the same way. The level of competition is different but at the end of the day basketball is basketball."
And it's their game of basketball that upset Ohio State in the second round, Syracuse in the round of 32 and Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen.
"Ohio State was special for the guys because the majority of the team is from Ohio," said Harris. "That’s the school. That’s the team; it’s bigger than the Browns or Cavs out there."
And Syracuse was special for Dayton assistant coach Alan Griffin who played on four NCAA tournament teams for Jim Boeheim until he graduated 2001.
"It’s been crazy, you expect things but it’s always big when the guys buy in and do it, these guys are working their butts off," said Harris.
Harris said the team isn't thrown off by the big stage, the increased media obligations or the strict schedule of events.
"Knock out your media responsibility and get back to basketball," said Harris. "America’s watching now and the guys take it in stride and play. It’s actually pretty cool."
Miller has brought in all but two players on the current squad and under his lead they have become the epitome of 'team'.
"The cohesiveness and togetherness they have is amazing they spend every moment together. It’s startling to see," said Harris. "They literally band together like I’ve never seen a team do before. When they get on the court the guys trust each other."
Harris himself landed at Dayton in an instant, after a short time playing oversees, signing with the Cowboys and a marketing career in Raleigh.
"Arch called me when he got the job and asked me if I wanted to come coach, I didn’t even have to think about it, I said yes," said Harris. "It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to coach in the NCAA. It’s unbelievable that Arch gave me the opportunity at this age.
"It’s been fast, Arch gives me so much freedom and respect. I drove from Raleigh to Dayton and he told me that day in his office ‘I want to groom you into what a good assistant is and what a good assistant does'. He’s really taken care of me and given me an amazing opportunity."
And as far as Archie goes, Harris said he's there for the long haul.
"Since day one he said he wanted to build a program at Dayton," said Harris. "The administration has backed him since day one. He loves the community."