Indiana head basketball coach Archie Miller met with the media on Friday afternoon to preview Saturday’s road game at Minnesota.
Later in the video IU junior forward De’Ron Davis takes questions.
You can read the full transcript below.
The Hoosiers and Gophers tip-off at 2:00 p.m. Eastern in Minneapolis.
(Note: The video begins a couple minutes in. You can advance the video forward at the bottom.)
Video Credit – IU Athletics
Transcript via iuhoosiers.com
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the four-day stretch, Minnesota and then Purdue.
ARCHIE MILLER: We’re getting ready for obviously a tough road trip to Minnesota. Always a hard place to play. They have got a good team, battling through the season just in watching them play, they have had some great wins, and know how difficult that’s going to be.
And then obviously the return home into the following couple weeks is going to be, you know, jam packed with a lot of games against great teams. So for us, we have plenty of opportunities. It’s one day at a time, and you know, this week has been a week where we’ve broken up our week with practices and a few days off. Got some guys that are under the weather here a little bit with the season, sort of going through some of that. But for the most part, we prepared well and we’ll have another day today and then obviously an early start tomorrow.
Q. As important as De’Ron has been the last couple weeks, is he at a point where you can trust him beyond 15, 20 minutes?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think whatever he can handle from a conditioning standpoint and also foul trouble, we’ve been able to navigate him where he’s played in the 20s a few times, which is probably about what he can handle conditioning-wise but he’s definitely been a big boost for us and gives us another guy offensively that can play a little bit with his back to the basket and reading defenses.
From Michigan State on, he’s been a positive in that regard so hopefully he can continue to go that route and we’ll continue to use him as much as possible.
Q. Playing alongside Juwan —
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, it’s something that, you know, obviously something we look forward to hopefully bringing to the table a little bit more. No. 1 it gets Juwan moving around a little bit more with different players guarding him. He’s able to guard different players, as well. We had that combination on the floor a few times in our last few games, and you know, that lineup has been positive. You know, you have two pretty good, you know, low post and with Juwan being able to move on the perimeter, you have some inside-outside, and as the back stretch continue, to pro mows more opportunities to get those guys together on the floor is a good thing.
Q. Two-part question, before the Ohio State game — how do you balance lesser experience players getting a run out in the games through the rest of the season where each one is so vital?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, you know, Race has done a nice job in his last two and a half weeks of just practicing every day, hard. He hasn’t missed. He’s starting to get his conditioning level back and he’s starting to move better.
I do think there’s an opportunity for us as a staff to keep evaluating things and find a way to give Race a crack at it, if it feels ready and we feel he can help. I think at this point in time, he’s starting to see himself as, you know, sort of back in a rhythm so to speak to the best of his ability.
Sometimes as a staff, a guy who has missed as much as he missed, just don’t know and until we fire him in there, which I do think — I think we’re going to give that a look here this next opportunity at Minnesota and on, and he’s got to be ready and when he gets his chance, hopefully he can continue to do it.
Our bench has been something that we’ve tinkered with all season long, injuries have given guys certain opportunities here of late. We’ve played a lot of different types of guys in certain games, and that’s key to your team’s development and morale and everything, and I feel like we’ll keep firing guys in there to the best of our ability.
Certain games will present certain challenges for certain guys and others, you’re forced to play guys with foul trouble or injuries or whatever it may be and I think everybody on our team know that is they are going to have an opportunity to get in.
Q. What makes Jordan so challenging to defend not only in the paint but just the rebounding ability he gives Minnesota as well?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, he’s a really terrific player. Obviously that goes without question. His numbers are incredible throughout his career. He’s a senior. He is an unbelievably physically strong player and probably doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves in terms of his rebounding. His rebounding on both ends of the floor is phenomenal. But his ability to drive the ball with power, his ability around the basket to just kind of like knock you off balance and be able to power through, his second jumps are incredible.
He’s a really gifted sturdy strong player that isn’t — you know, obviously doesn’t have the greatest size, but I mean, his jumping, his strength, his lower center of gravity, really commands a lot of attention. He’s a physical guy.
Obviously his career speaks for itself. He’s having a tremendous year for them right now, but he is a load to deal with on — defending him from the perimeter on in, defending him with his back to the basket and keeping him off the glass, it’s a challenge.
Q. Can you talk about the development of their freshmen center?
ARCHIE MILLER: Oh, yeah, Daniel, he’s a terrific player. Was really highly regarded coming out. Local kid who stayed home. 6-10, great length can really run the floor, has the touch of 15 feet and in, turnaround jumpshots and he’s very good obviously around the basket.
But he’s going to be a really, really good player in our league for a long time. He’s having a very good freshman season.
Q. It’s been awhile since you had this kind of extended period just for practice. What did you want to do with — with those days that you had this week just to work on?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think the big thing is you have some chance to spend some time on yourself. You’re trying to get better. You’re trying to practice fast, at the same time where you’re not doing it; you know, the mental is the physical at this time of year for your guys. So you want to be going hard, but you also want to be giving them, not time to recover but more time to work on their own games, either pre-practice or post-practice.
But they have been competitive, fast practices and they have been hard. We’re trying to get better at certain things, watching film and whatnot but it’s been some time that we can spend on ourselves.
Q. Has your approach to recruiting changed, given some of the needs the team has shown?
ARCHIE MILLER: We’ve always had a philosophy in recruiting. That won’t change. It’s not as if we go out there and recruit guys that won’t shoot the ball. That’s not the objective.
I think perimeter firepower is something that’s obviously, you know, fresh on the mind moving forward and I think true size, size around the basket, is something that’s got to be brought to the table, as well, just identifying your needs, and obviously seeing how your team’s developed over some time, as well, what you have to adjust to.
But our recruiting philosophy is always going to be the same. Our recruit — we’re trying to recruit obviously the best players that make sense for Indiana and our staff and a part of what we hope is a future of the building blocks, you know, that guys play through mistakes early in their career, they get better and they earn their stripes so to speak.
But without question the skill level has to be there, the shooting level has got to be there and I think just in general as you watch college basketball, the size that you need to be able to endure a long Big Ten season is something that is fresh on the mind.
We’re not done recruiting by any stretch of the imagination. Our teams will always have a chance to be bolstered at any point in time with adding new players. Our recruiting philosophy is fine, and we have brought in one class, have got a second one coming and hopefully that second one isn’t finished yet and we can keep going deeper. You want your classes to stack on top of one another and you want them to be able to get older with one another. That’s where we are sort of at the beginning stages of being able to stack a couple together here.
Q. You mentioned the past couple weeks — to have players —
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think in many stretches, you’ve seen our team sort of play in spurts the way that you want them to play. You’re trying to be able to sustain more of that for longer stretches.
That goes along with saying our last three games being at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State, very competitive games, you know, you just weren’t able to finish the later two out as you probably go to overtime at Michigan State, could have went either way.
But we’re playing very hard, one possession, two possession games and we have to be better in certain areas to be able to win those, defensive rebounding, embracing offensive execution where you don’t turn it over and you get a shot at the end of the clock, and you know, those are just some things I think as a team that we have to embrace and get a little better.
Without question, competitive spirit and what we are doing every day and certain guys staying with it right now isn’t the problem.
Q. Any updates on injuries?
ARCHIE MILLER: Zach is still out indefinitely with his foot. I do think that he’s improving. He is conditioning and he is getting in certain little things in practice. He won’t be available this weekend and probably not early next week. Maybe, maybe at some point in time he resumes practice but he’s not been practicing.
Jerome is out indefinitely. He’s got some things that obviously he’s working through. He’s being — he’s a part of what we’re doing right now on the court at times during practice, but he’s nowhere near ready to play a game.
Q. Coach was saying on the radio the other night that you have a loud voice, a louder voice maybe. Have you made an effort to bring some confidence to guys to maybe right the ship?
DE’RON DAVIS: Yeah, I’ve been trying to compete every day in practice, now that I’m healthy and, you know, able — I feel like, you know, me going at guys in practice and just being a loud voice in practice is helping our team get better and I feel that’s what we need, we need an environment where we compete all the time and I feel like we compete hard against each other, you know, there’s going to be anything to compete against someone else. That’s what Coach Archie always stresses to compete and work hard.
Q. They have a freshman center you’ll be concerned with, what do you see from him?
DE’RON DAVIS: Honestly, this whole week we’ve been prepared — preparing. We all just been focusing on us, and you know, trying to get us off the ground. Today is a day we go over them and worry about what they are trying to do but I play my game regardless. My team, we are going to come out and execute the game plan at the end of the day.
Q. On that note, what’s gone on the last two seasons, how do you make sure the younger players have the right mindset when times get tough?
DE’RON DAVIS: I try to bring a positive note to everything. Not every day everybody wants to practice or be out there but if I come in with energy — the first drill we have is — I take it upon myself to give the guys and whatever team I’m ongoing in whatever aspect — object if the team starts off losing, practice is usually going to set up for a good practice because we’re going to be competing the whole time. Honestly I’m trying to focus on being a loud voice for us in practice on a competing standpoint.
Q. So you’re trying to make sure that you’re not the one running —
DE’RON DAVIS: Yeah, exactly — especially after we have a long game, you know, this whole week and you know, with a lot of practices leading up to the game, you know, practice can get pretty intense so the less running we do, the more we can win and the less running we have to do at the end of the day.
Q. How can you keep up —
DE’RON DAVIS: Well, like I said earlier, you know, me just getting — taking good shots towards the basket, not forcing anything and hitting the open man. Like I said my teammates have been doing a great job being locked and loaded and ready to shoot, so you know, as long as they were hitting the shots, the ball going to keep coming out.
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