Indiana players Race Thompson and Armaan Franklin met with the media on Friday afternoon in advance of Saturday’s game against South Dakota State
The redshirt sophomore Thompson and freshman Franklin discussed a number of topics including their roles this season, defense, the team’s depth and this weekend’s game.
IU and SDSU tip off at 4 p.m. ET at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Q. You talked about missing some time and stuff like that. Coach Miller, I think, on one of the radio shows a couple weeks ago said, for example, a guy who gained a lot from reclassifying, being here. What ways do you feel like you’ve gained from coming here early out of high school and being around?
RACE THOMPSON: I think I just learned a lot, had a lot of time to learn. Didn’t have any pressure on me, when I first got here, to go in and play. I was just here practicing and lifting weights, getting my body right. So I think that first year, and then it just really helped me learn a lot faster. I didn’t have nothing else to worry about.
Q. Did you learn from anybody in particular?
RACE THOMPSON: Yeah, Juwan, Collin Hartman even, De’Ron, Freddie, Rob Johnson, all those guys.
Q. What’s the biggest thing you think they taught you during that redshirt?
RACE THOMPSON: I would say probably just believing in myself at all times. Like I’m here for a reason. That’s about it, yeah.
Q. Question for both of you. Start with Race. There’s an old adage that on great teams there’s role players who are great in their role. Do you think that applies — I’m going to ask each of you, but, Race, I’ll start with you. Do you think that applies to you a little bit?
RACE THOMPSON: I would say yes. I’m coming off the bench. We have a great team all around. I think anybody on the team could start any night. But I think everybody that has to come off the bench is perfectly fine with it. I’m happy with my role. I don’t have any complaints. I don’t think anybody has any complaints with their role, and we’re just out here trying to win every day for each other.
Q. Give me a player’s view. You see your role right now as what?
RACE THOMPSON: Just being scrappy, rebounding, doing anything to help the team win.
Q. When I saw you in D-I Minnesota, a lot of us saw you as a hard hat guy, a guy who not only could do the hard hat stuff but embraced it. Do you still feel that? Is that accurate, or is that no longer accurate?
RACE THOMPSON: No, that’s definitely accurate. I can do all the hard hat stuff. That’s basically my game. I’m not scared of any contact or anything like that.
Q. Why do you embrace that, though? Some guys are willing to do that but don’t like it? You seem like you’re happy doing it?
RACE THOMPSON: I don’t know. It’s part of my game, something I’ve always done. I think I just got comfortable with it.
Q. Armaan, let’s talk to you for a second. Give us your thoughts on your role. If you were going to describe your role, how would you describe what the team expects from you right now?
ARMAAN FRANKLIN: Just whatever the team needs me to do — pass, rebound, shoot, play defense, guard different people. That’s just my role, just trying to do whatever they need me to do.
Q. How much did it help the fact that in high school you played point guard, you were combo guard, you were even forward at times. There were times they threw you on post defense. How much did having to do all those things prepare you to have to do them at this level?
ARMAAN FRANKLIN: It helped me to a certain point, but getting here, the guys are a lot quicker, stronger, faster. So you’ve just got to adjust to it really.
Q. Right. Defensively, you guys have been pretty good to start the season. How much of an emphasis has that been, and why do you think you guys have been pretty good out of the gate?
ARMAAN FRANKLIN: It’s a big emphasis. Coach Miller really expects a lot from us on defense. A lot of our film sessions are of our defense, and like this just really helps in the long run, just being able to defend teams and not rely on our scoring all the time.
Q. And practice-wise, is he still breaking it up toward half of it’s defense or things like that? Or how does practice go to kind of pound the defense point in?
ARMAAN FRANKLIN: It’s a lot of defense, a lot of defensive competition, and we’re still throw in some offensive competition. Really it’s just a lot of defense in our practices.
Q. Race, give me your thoughts on interior defense. You guys have been pretty good on the inside, not only defending, but also finishing possessions with getting the defensive rebound. Where do you think you guys are at?
RACE THOMPSON: I think we still have room for improvement. We’re getting there every day. We practice it every day. Coach Miller has us going at each other day in and day out. Going against players like we have, it’s only going to make you better.
Q. And the depth on the frontcourt was something that was talked about preseason. It’s been a factor. Just your thoughts, when you get in the court and you see how many guys in the frontcourt can play, how much of an impact on the game does that have?
RACE THOMPSON: I think it has a huge impact. No one has to save any energy for later in the game because you can go as hard as you can, and then as soon as somebody comes in, it’s not a step back on the team. I mean, anybody — like I said, anybody can start the game. Anybody could have the game that night. So it’s a real big impact. We can run the floor until we get tired, then sub come in and run the floor, and then they can come back in.
Q. How much fresher do you feel — do you notice a difference how you feel at the end of the game, as opposed to before, with how much depth you have?
RACE THOMPSON: What was the first part?
Q. I guess you feel fresher at the end of games even though you’re able to go for spurts as hard as you are just because of the depth and the ability to rotate?
RACE THOMPSON: Yeah, I think that depth has a big part in being able to play the last four minutes of the game, which is the most important, says Coach Miller. So having that depth, we can have De’Ron in there, Joey in there, me in there. We can go super hard for short spurts of time, and at the end of the game, we’ll all be fresh and ready to go.
Q. How important is this last game against — not last game, but South Dakota State, going into a team like Florida State and you have to go on the road to Wisconsin and UConn and all that? How important is this game just preparing you guys for what’s to come?
RACE THOMPSON: I mean, every game’s important, but this game, I’ll just take it like another game. No different if it was Florida State tomorrow. I mean, it’s a big game, definitely. We’re ready to start playing big time schools and stuff. So every team we play is really good.
Q. Armaan, just to follow up a little bit, some people called you a Swiss Army knife in high school. Is that still a description of kind of like how you can play versatile spots now, or has that sort of gone away?
ARMAAN FRANKLIN: I mean, you can still say that. Early in the year, I was playing the point, which I wasn’t coming in expecting to do. So that’s just another thing that just added to my versatility on the court.
Q. How many different positions do you feel you can defend right now?
ARMAAN FRANKLIN: Right now? It all just depends on the team. Right now I can definitely do one through three, but some teams might have a bigger three, so I might have to go just one and two.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
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