John Calipari has known and been friends with the Miller family for almost his entire life.
Calipari was a point guard at UNC Wilmington from 1978-1980 and at Division II Clarion State from 1980-1982.
And on another note, it was rumored that after Sean Miller initially turned down the Arizona job, both Thad Matta and John Calipari urged Sean to reconsider and take the Arizona job.
See if you can follow the bouncing basketball:
The eldest Miller, famous father of Blackhawk High hoops, used to toil as an assistant to Bill Sacco at Moon High School. Their ballboy? Little Johnny Calipari, who hung out at Grandma Miller’s house. The ballboy, for a Tigers team that included Bob Davie (all this coaching karma), grew into a guard and a Clarion player and an assistant coach Cal.
Assistant coach Cal of Pitt recruits Sean Miller, firstborn of then-Blackhawk coach John Miller.
coach Cal helps Sean Miller stomp up the coaching vineyards, from Wisconsin to Miami of Ohio to North Carolina State (both under Herb Sendek, who coaches in the Pac-10 against him at Arizona State).
As for Sean Miller, his little bruddah Archie is part of this Arizona ride, too — an assistant on the bench. It indeed is a family affair.
A personal note about Sean: In 2002, when he was a rising, young assistant, he applied for the Robert Morris opening. Not that I was the Sonny Vaccaro of the Post-Gazette, but I pulled aside the Bobs’ athletic director and recommended as strenuously and convincingly as I could that he hire Sean…even if it would be a stepping stone. The AD didn’t listen. He hired Xavier
assistant Mark Schmidt, a move that created the opening for Sean to eventually arise to head coach there and now Arizona. (Schmidt moved on from the Bobs to St. Bonaventure, where he remains, by the way. Funny how things work out.)
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- They are not blood relatives, but almost every time University of Memphis coach John Calipari talks about Sean Miller, he refers to him as his cousin.
So if you thought it was difficult for Calipari to coach against people in his basketball family, what's it going to be like today when he'll be on the opposite sideline from someone he actually considers family?
"It's hard," Calipari said. "But it's in the championship game, so I'll deal with it."
It's both ironic and appropriate that the No. 13 Tigers will face Xavier tonight for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship, starting with the fact that the 40-year old Miller has known Calipari for essentially his entire life.
PHOTO BY ANDRES LEIGHTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Xavier coach Sean Miller has known Memphis coach John Calipari for most of his life, dating back to his father's coaching days in the Pittsburgh area. Calipari once even recruited Miller to the University of Pittsburgh.
His father, John Miller, is a legendary high school coach in the Pittsburgh area, and their families became intertwined in ways that would take Calipari several minutes to fully explain. That he ultimately recruited Miller to the University of Pittsburgh was almost incidental to their relationship.
"His uncle and I were teammates, and I spent as much time in his grandmother's house as I did my own house," Calipari said. "My high school coach and (John Miller) were teammates, and he coached me in the summer. We're family."
For Calipari, Miller is often a sounding board, since they go through similar issues during the course of the season trying to maintain a national profile in a league that doesn't have all the advantages of the Big East or SEC, which have programs practically in Xavier's and Memphis' backyards.
That quote describes the exact type of mindset we need in a coach at NC State. Calipari would have won big here at NC State though maybe we were lucky he didn’t take the job considering some of the controversies that have followed him to Kentucky. Obviously if Sean Miller has a similar mindset to Calipari in terms of wanting to compete on the same level as Duke, UNC, Kansas, and UCLA, then he would be dream hire for NC State this time around. Sean is in a great situation at Arizona however.