Indiana head coach Archie Miller spoke to the media after an 89-64 win over Nebraska in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. The transcript is below.
Indiana is scheduled to play Penn State on Thursday evening at around 9 p.m. ET.
Big Ten Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Wednesday March 11, 2020 Archie Miller Indiana Hoosiers
Indiana – 89, Nebraska – 64
THE MODERATOR: Coach, begin with an opening statement about the game.
ARCHIE MILLER: Credit to Nebraska. I thought they started the game ready to play, and we knew that they would. They’ve been a really tough guard for us all season long with the way they space the floor and shoot the three. Early on, I didn’t think we were ready, and then as the half sort of closed, we had a big run, which was a real key part of the game. Being able to go into halftime with a lead was important, and then we started the second half, I thought, really well as well to build a cushion.
They made their runs during the half, got us a little bit stationary at times, but I thought overall our guys responded and were able to finish the game in a big way. And I’m proud of our depth. I thought we had a lot of guys. We were committed to playing a lot of guys tonight, and we had a lot of guys play valuable minutes and get some things done.
This closes the chapter of the first one, which is always the hardest, and now the energy level and the adrenaline and feeling good about yourself, playing in postseason, you know, is upon you. You get an opportunity to play against a really good Penn State team tomorrow. I would say it would probably be a heck of an environment in here, but I think it’s going to be more of a closed scrimmage, it seems like, which is unfortunate, but we’ll be ready to go, like I said. Penn State’s had a heck of a season. They have a heck of a team, so we’ve got a good challenge.
I think Armaan Franklin took around three charges tonight. Before, you talked about how he takes a lot of charges for the team. How pleasing is it, when he comes into the game, for him to make those kinds of plays?
ARCHIE MILLER: I’m proud of Armaan. Here the last three or four weeks, his role really hasn’t diminished in our eyes, but his minutes have gone down. He stays with it. He’s a great kid. He’s an unbelievable teammate. In some of our biggest wins, as you finish the regular season and you look back on your season and you figure out who can help you at this time of year
when it means the most, it’s the guys that care the most. Armaan really cares, and lo and behold tonight, when he got his number called, he was able to play 25 good minutes. He was plus 32 in his minutes out there, so it was a direct result of how he played.
But like you said, he drew three charges. He’s done that all season long. He leads us in that department. He also made some shots for us, which was great, and had eight defensive rebounds. Proud of Armaan. He really stepped up. Like everybody who got in, I thought everybody contributed in a big way, and we needed it, and 23 assists and only 10 turnovers with the ability to rebound the ball much better in the second half, especially Trayce. He had 14 defensive rebounds. I think he had 8 in the second half.
But we got the job done. That’s what you ask for, and like I said, we’re moving on.
Archie, I don’t know how much you know, but seasons are getting cancelled or whatever all over the place. You sound like tomorrow’s going to happen with Penn State. Are you kind of hoping, or do you know? Furthermore, what’s it like to be you right now? We have no idea if we’re going to watch you play again this year.
ARCHIE MILLER: I was told coming off of the floor, obviously, of the unfortunate circumstances with the NBA, putting it on hold. I told our team that that happened, and we’ll brace ourselves for what happens next. I think it’s an evolving situation, and it’s rapid, but it puts it into reality of the seriousness of it. When world experts start to recommend things, you obviously better listen. Obviously, you cross your fingers that the college basketball landscape can continue on, even if it means there aren’t fans.
You grind it out and get to this point of the season, it’s the most special time for our young guys. It’s most special time for, obviously, the fans, and to get here with this happening, obviously, is a little bit unfortunate. So I think we’re all crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, which is allowing us to continue to play. But like I said, when experts speak up, you’d better listen, and I think the NBA just probably put the sporting world on hold. We’ll hope for the best that clearly we’re preparing to play tomorrow. Hopefully, that continues on.
Probably a lot like you guys, this is uncharted territory, and it’s serious, and we don’t want to do anything to harm anybody. We’ve got to listen to what they say, and we’ll go with it.
Archie, two questions related to tomorrow. One, not getting the fan support that you did tonight, I mean, what kind of — not disadvantage, but does it kind of neutralize them being here?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think one of the great things about being at Indiana is the fans. Whether we would be playing in Chicago or whether we’d be playing — I mean, obviously, we come heavy when we come. To be able to play in Indianapolis, you felt it tonight. We have unbelievable support in here, and each day that you’d be here, if you’re fortunate enough to keep going, it would only grow. The city of Indianapolis is by far and away the best place to host it. So you know it’s going to be an unbelievable vibe for our players, their families, and whatnot.
We’ve scrimmaged in here, so we’ve had some closed door scrimmages in here last few years. Like I told those guys, we’ve already done it once. So we’ll play the game with no one in here, and we’ll let it rip. I think TV is still obviously going to cover it. Everyone is going to find a nice patio or bar or whatever you do, and you’re going to cheer like crazy outside.
It is what it is. The other team is going to have the same circumstances with nobody in the arena. I probably would say, yeah, we’d love to have our people in here. Maybe they’ll just let our people in here and not let their people in here, I don’t know. It’s unfortunate.
Do you think you or other coaches would coach differently if everybody could hear what you’re saying? Whether it’s cursing or barking out stuff to players. How do you think that could be different?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think so, when there’s 20,000 people in there and you are able to scream and yell and do whatever you want to do. I will say it’s going to be a lot easier to get Trayce’s attention tomorrow, and that’s probably an advantage for me because I think he’ll be able to hear me, and he’ll be able to look at me clearly and know I’m talking to him. Yeah, I don’t think we’ll coach anything differently. I think you’re going to coach your heart out as a coach. I think you’re going to play your heart out as a player.
But not having any fans will dim the noise a little bit, and maybe you got to cover your mouth with the playbook, play card or something, I don’t know.
Archie, what do you think of the way you closed the the first half, opened the second half, and really took control?
ARCHIE MILLER: The close of the first half was the most important because I thought the pressure of the game coming in obviously felt a little funny. Nebraska being shorthanded, the talk around our team needing to do this and that, you can get tight in a game like that. Nebraska started off loose, and they were playing fast, and we weren’t ready for that early, but I thought our guys did a good job of kind of hanging in there, and right when we were able to get a few stops, we capitalized. Devonte was a big part of the end of the first half. To start the second half, Rob was a big part of the second half. He got going and made some really good plays. To be able to extend the lead at the end and then the beginning, I think showed that we were able to put our foot down defensively to get stops. They’re a hard guard for us.
Then we were able to play through a run in the second half, which was good. They made it a little tighter with about eight to go, and we were able to make a couple plays. I think that’s the big thing this time of year for our team; who can step up and make free-throws or step up and make a couple plays when you need a play, offensively or defensively. Tonight what I was proud of is we had a lot of guys in the game doing good things, not just one.
Coach, when you updated the team in terms of what had transpired during the game in terms of the health scare, what did you see on their faces? What was the reaction you got?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, it was like telling them a family member was sick or something happened to somebody. Obviously, our guys are in tune with what’s going on with the virus, but when you say, fellas, you’ve got to hear this, but the NBA season has just been cancelled, you see a bunch of young guys looking at you like, yeah, what we’ve been telling you is things are kind of serious. Go wash your hands. Make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do right now.
Hopefully, we can get things cleared up. We have the world’s best. Hopefully, we can get this thing under control a little bit and get back to business. Hopefully, the NBA can get back into the arenas and start playing. I think the big concern for us right now is the collegiate game. I think we’re all sitting here teetering on worrying about not only the Big Ten Tournament in the next 48 hours but what happens after Sunday. So I think that’s obviously a little bit nerve-racking for a lot of people right now.
Archie, since everybody’s so concerned about this, is everybody healthy on your team? Health- wise, there’s no colds or flus or sicknesses or anything? People are concerned.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think that we’re okay. In terms of that, obviously, we’ve got unbelievable medical staff here with us, and Tim, our trainer, is on it right now. But all of our players coming into the game and coming to the tournament are all doing really well. I think right now you’re monitoring every situation with the best you can, but I think we’re okay there.
I’m sorry this is the last one, Archie, but you had three players’ names up there, and now they’re gone. What happened?
ARCHIE MILLER: I decided to basically just move those guys as fast as we possibly can to get cleaned up after the game and get to the hotel as fast as possible. I think, once you start getting the news that we got after the game, I think right now for our players, it’s let’s get cleaned up, let’s get out of here, and let’s get back to the hotel where we can keep our group kind of tight and move forward with tomorrow.
They’re not going to have a whole lot of answers about what’s going on anyway. Nothing strategic there or anything other than the fact that, hey, let’s get these guys moving on their way, and I’ll take care of the press conference.
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