Indiana head coach Archie Miller met with the media after a 79-58 win over Providence on Monday afternoon.
The full transcript from that session is below.
THE MODERATOR: Opening thoughts from today’s game?
ARCHIE MILLER: Just really proud of our group. I thought they came down here really together and excited. I think we played that way. I think that you got a chance to see that our older guys brought confidence to the floor, that they have been there before and just got a monster effort from Race Thompson and I’m so happy for him just because his development the last eight months, his attitude, his leadership, and how he plays is how he practices every day. So it was good to see that. But we had a lot of contributions, important contributions from everybody on the team. And to beat a team like Providence you really had to answer the physicality of the game, and at times we really did a great job on the boards and at times we were very, very good on the ball, but at times you could see our deficiencies inside defensively and our deficiencies in and around the basket at times hurt us. But we knew Providence and the way that they played, it was going to be a very physical game. You could tell with the way that they got to the foul line that that’s how they play. But I’m proud of our guys. We held it to nine turnovers, which was essential and we ended up holding serve on the boards and the big reason why was the effort level from Race and his time out there. So we’re fortunate. We beat a really good team and they’re going to have a really good season and we get an opportunity to play another really good team tomorrow in Texas.
Q. Why do you feel Race Thompson was so productive today?
ARCHIE MILLER: Again, he’s a very motivated player. I thought that he finished last season basically as a starter and he used his off-season as well as any player I’ve ever been around, transformed his body, he worked on his game. You can tell his touch, his offense confidence, he’s much more offensively confident, and to me that started to spirit him a little bit in terms of being more vocal and also being unquestionably one of our rock solid leaders. And his emergence, to me, is one of the special things about this off-season and just watching him get a little bit of reward for what he did.
Q. You talked about rebounding being a key to being here. How much did it help getting a lot of the offensive rebounds early?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, offensive rebounding, to me, wasn’t going to be our strength, but I thought with Trayce and Race, those two guys per minute last year were our best, so we had a chance to have two guys at least. But Galloway and Jordan Geronimo both came in as young guys, gave us some hustle plays early and then second half we made big timely rebounds by Race. I mean, eight offensive rebounds speaks to itself, 10 free throw attempts speaks to how physical he was. But the defensive rebounding was what I was really concerned about is keeping them off the offensive glass. And I thought for the most part we did a pretty good job there. Al and Armaan, I believe both had five defensive rebounds from the guard position and at 10, and if I look at Trey grabbed another two, Khristian had one, we were over a dozen guard rebounds, which is our goal for the game defensively, be able to get guard rebounds because we’re a little smaller. But guys scrapped, man, played hard, and that’s why these tournaments are so fun. You get a chance early in the year to see what you’re made of and hopefully we can build on it. We didn’t do everything right, but we did compete and we played hard.
Q. Looking ahead to your next game against Texas, how do you plan to defensively attack the Longhorns guards?
ARCHIE MILLER: I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t seen Texas play one time. I know that they have a talented group back, very athletic and long and have some experience coming back, and Shaka does a tremendous job. They play, have always played and will play hard for him and offensively I know they’re going to be very, very fast and they’re going to be talented, so this is going to be game where we’re really going to have to answer the bell, probably. In the same areas, though. This is a team that has to pride itself on tough-mindedness, scrappiness, and a team that’s very, very resilient, but we also have to play very smart, which I think for the most part today we did and we took care of the ball. And that’s going to be same thing tomorrow. On a short prep you’re not going to be perfect. These tournaments it’s really about momentum and energy and we got to get our energy up and we got to play smart and at the end of the day be excited to play. It’s so fun to be out there again against the best teams in the country and obviously this field.
Q. Any update on Joey Brunk’s availability?
ARCHIE MILLER: He’s getting better and we’re being very cautious with Joe. I believe Joe would have played or could have played if this was a February/March game, but we’re trying to get to February and March and three games in three days, listening to our doctors and listening to Joe, we’re not going to do anything to jeopardize the long-term versus trying to get him in there right now. Tomorrow — we’ll see where he is when we go tomorrow, but I think he’ll be available if things continue to progress in this tournament, but again, the big thing isn’t to panic. It’s to take things slow and be smart, because I think you could tell tonight, just Race and Trayce isn’t enough. We’re going to have to have Joe’s experience. He started 32 games last year and he’s a good player, so we got to get him back. But we’re going to go with what we got and it’s going to give more guys opportunity and experience.
Q. Can you talk about the big second half for Al Durham?
ARCHIE MILLER: Al’s a byproduct of his habits as well and I think that’s why, to watch him and Race grow up is so nice. But Al should play with poise and confidence. I told him before the game, You play with poise and confidence. You don’t start the game trying to think about how this is going to go for you or worry about anything other than doing your job. And I think Al, to me, showed that he’s a very capable finisher. Second half, he really did a good job making some big threes, made his free throws, and at the end of the day, he’s a guy that I think we’re going to really count on game-in and game-out to be able to be that way.
Q. Any concern about Race playing 35 minutes?
ARCHIE MILLER: A lot of concern. Yeah. A lot of concern early in the season about playing that many minutes. It’s too many. And one of the big things that happened tonight was Jerome Hunter’s availability due to foul trouble. Jerome obviously did not get going here tonight and we expect Jerome to play a heavy, heavy role as well. So with Jerome’s foul trouble, first game of the year here really on the road, Jordan did a good job in the first half, but we kind of rode Race, He was playing well, but no question about it, fatigue will play a factor in the tournament.
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