Indiana basketball head coach Archie Miller met with the media on Thursday afternoon to preview Friday night’s game against Michigan.
A few notes from the session:
- De’Ron Davis is “shut down” right now to allow proper time for his ankle to heal. He will not play against Michigan.
- Race Thompson, while cleared for full contact, still has a long way to go to get himself in game shape.
The Hoosiers and Wolverines tip-off at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The game will be broadcast on FS1.
NOTE: If you are having difficulty hearing the audio, the full transcript is directly under the video.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, big opportunity for our team to get back on the floor on Friday night. Should be hopefully an electric atmosphere for us getting back home playing obviously a really highly regarded Michigan team who is having a phenomenal season. Already played them one time in Ann Arbor a few weeks back at the beginning of January, so we have some things we obviously have to get cleaned up, or at least try to tidy up as we get ready to play them on Friday night. You know, can’t really think past much of that, once we get through with Michigan, obviously we’ll start our prep for our next set of games, which obviously we’re on the road again at Rutgers on Wednesday.Our focus has been good coming off Northwestern, and we’re sort of anxious to get back on the floor I think.
Q. Different situations, obviously, but 2014, you had a run of four straight losses and I think lost five of six at Dayton. Turned things around the second half of that season. Two-part question. How do you shake off that stretch in the second half of the season and is there anything from that that you can use from that situation to go forward here?
ARCHIE MILLER: Similar. That team back in 2014 had a great non-conference. Started off conference play in a league that was very deep, sort of like we’re in right now and we took some lumps, we did, and we got into ourselves where it was really, really hard month. But to those kids’s credit and to our staff’s credit at that time, we found a way to keep it positive, keep improving, and you just keep pounding, so to speak, to find a way to get one positive thing, which at that time was to get a win.
Once we got one, I thought that, you know, sort of relieved everyone that we can continue to work hard and do we don’t have a negative attitude.
The thing that’s a little bit different right now is obviously we’re down some bodies and we have to try to find a way to get those guys back as soon as we possibly can from a health-related standpoint.
Q. Even in the Northwestern game, down 15, you went on a 13-1 run. The guys bought in, obviously, to the rally and didn’t quite get over the hump. What did you see from your guys during that rally that might be able to carry over?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, we continued to get stop. We were able to sort of plug the hole on three-point line. We weren’t defending the three at the end of the first half and clearly Aaron Falzon had an unbelievable game with the way he shot and it gave them unbelievable energy, but we were able to calm down and find a way to keep it at a workable margin and.
That we can continue to work hard and do some things and that team found a way to — I think went 13 out of 16 and was 40 minutes from a Final Four.
Now, that’s hard to do. You have to have great character, you have to have great leadership and you have to have tremendous togetherness and that’s what we’re searching for here. We’re in a tough stretch.
Obviously we don’t want to be in the situation that we’re currently in, but you can’t worried about what’s happened in the past. You have to continue to focus on getting better. You have to continue on making the players feel like they are getting better and they are earning their confidence back, and you have an another opportunity on Friday. The games aren’t going away.
We just have to continue preparing and get better. Our guys right now are genuinely continuing to work hard. We have got to try to find a way to keep it at a workable margin, stop it at the three-point line for the most part and we had some guys step up and make some plays. Al was good for us and pretty good for us in that game and Jamaal obviously was a workhorse, as well.
We got some timely rebounds and were able to get it to a two-or three-point game and it felt like it was anybody’s game at that point in time. We fought hard to get back in it. We weren’t good enough defending the three, and just in general, just in much watching us, we’re not as tight and connected on defense and from an offensive perspective, our defense has got to create some offense for us.
Our last four games, whatever the losing streak is, you can think back on it, what are we not doing and I just think forcing turnovers, the activity level, the ability to get defense, the offense hasn’t been there for us, which has hurt us.
Q. We asked about it on Tuesday not but in more depth, where is Race, how did he feel not just from a physical perspective but a mental perspective, do you anticipate seeing him gain minutes for him soon?
ARCHIE MILLER: Race had a hard year. There’s very few players that have had the type of injury that he had and the length that he’s been out.
I’m just happy that he’s back feeling better. Our staff’s genuinely back watching him look himself again, and it’s good that he’s now been reengaged in practice and he’s been cleared to go full contact in practice.
He’s not anywhere near in terms of being able to have game shape and when you don’t have game shape, at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to contribute as much as you would possibly like to, but he has time here and we have a long season left. Discussions on being able to hold him out or redshirt him or do some of those things have been thrown out but race is in the mindset of continuing to put himself in the situation, I think every day, to see if he can find a way to help our team and if he can, we will use him, if it makes the right sense.
We’re just happy we have him back and that he looks good, and right now, it’s a fight to get back into some type of a conditioning level, that is hard to do after a ten-week absence.
But he did do a lot of running and do some things that he could, that he was able to hang on to without being able to practice but he’s nowhere near being able to play long minutes. Doing well in practice, finding a way to get back in shape and help our team and our goal and staff is helping pushing him back towards that.
Q. Inaudible. How does he change —
ARCHIE MILLER: He really changes their team. He gives them the ability to play small with five three-point shooters on the floor and mismatches. They have a great lineup there so to speak with their small ball, and they are very versatile defensively with that type of quickness and speed.
He didn’t play in the first game, and we weren’t aware of that but going into the first game, we prepared for him to play. We’ll prepare the same way as we would. He’s definitely a game changer for him just in terms of the way he shoots it and his versatility and how he uses them.
Q. Al is one of the few guys that’s had a reliable percentage behind the arc all year, but do you think about trying to create some situations where he get more clean looks? He’s shooting better in Big Ten play.
ARCHIE MILLER: He’s doing a nice job and playing really nice basketball. Going to encourage him to take open shots when he can, and he’s also doing a pretty good job of creating plays. He’s getting to the basket more and has low turnovers the last two or three games.
We need Al to continue doing that. He’s playing an important role for us without amount of minutes he has to play. But without question our team in general has to find a way to get more rhythm. That’s a quest of the staff with the changing and turnover of roster, who is available, what you have to do, we are sort of tweaking things as we go and figuring out what we have to do.
We have good looks. Guys are getting open shots. Some guys are being left open, purposely I think, right now just to see if they can make it. That messes with you a little bit, but with most things step up now, accountability-wise, do more, invest in your game a little bit more.
The staff obviously is doing a great job building confidence and constantly trying to find a way to get as much out of everybody as we can. Shooting the ball, right now we’re not making shots. I do think it was good to see Rob step up and let some go the other day. He’s a good shooter, and Al without question — Justin to Zach — if they are open, they have to be willing to shoot it, and they have to be willing, obviously with great confidence that they can make that shot.
As we get more movement, more ball movement and obviously we continue to hopefully improve, we can get some more easy looks.
Q. Purdue, Northwestern, able to bottle up Romeo’s driving lanes. How do you get him playing in space again?
ARCHIE MILLER: Continue to emphasize transition and pushing the ball. You know, in the halfcourt, in our league in general, it’s tough to drive. It’s a physical league. He gets his seams in transition. He gets his seams after the ball moves. That’s where he has to find it.
He’s not going to be able to do it with the ball in his hands 100 percent of the time because teams are really guarded, gated, in terms of just loading up on him. He’s reading it. There’s two on the ball a lot. He’s making the right play.
I think in general with him now, we have to get him back out in transition more and our team has to get back out in transition more, and I keep saying and I can’t stress it enough, the better our defense plays, the more we’re able to create offense with it, that makes the guys much more dangerous to play.
Just in the month of January, our defense hasn’t been terrible, but it hasn’t been you have to speed with what it needs to be with the size of our team right now. We have to create more with our defense and that’s a huge problem for us right now. Obviously you’re playing against really well-coached teams. They execute well. Michigan is one of them. They don’t turn the ball over very much, but we have to find a way to disrupt if we are going to have a chance to get out on transition.
Q. The game film from Northwestern show any themes from the Falzon threes —
ARCHIE MILLER: He had not played a lot coming into the game. He’s regarded as a very good shooter. In scouting, obviously you talk about that. They did a really nice job of running him off screens more so than I thought him standing there and making shots. They created action for him and with great confidence, he let it go and he got it going the end of the first half and I think that gave him confidence in the second half to go back to him.
You know, I think he had one, just kind of deflected ball landing in his hands in the corner. It was just his night. Six or seven from three and one foul and he basically had seven 3-pointers in the game and limited minutes, and without question, if that slowed down at all, that one guy just a little bit, could have been a little bit of different game. Give him credit. He made tough shots running off screens at times, and from great range, too. He was shooting them from deep. You know, he had a good game. You have to give him credit.
Q. This is anecdotal. It seemed to me in the Northwestern game and other games, you’ve had good success on in-bounds plays, freeing people up. Anything you can learn on the halfcourt offensive from off an in-bound set that could translate to half-court offense?
ARCHIE MILLER: We take great pride when we take the ball in-bounds. We’re trying to score, we’re not just get it in. In general we call a number, we’re trying to get a specific guy an opportunity to get a catch.
In the halfcourt, it’s very similar but without question, trying to create certain situations to get certain guys to get involved in action to create an opportunity for them to make a play, we’re definitely looking at all things to help us. You know, your team evolves as the year goes on and it changes from time to time and certain guys are playing better at certain times to you have to look to create some more action for that one guy or two guys that are playing well.
Q. De’Ron fighting through the ankle?
ARCHIE MILLER: De’Ron is shut down right now. In his defense, we and he probably tried to mask it at the beginning of January. He probably should have been shut down right after the Illinois game rather than try to patchwork.
So right now we’re trying to get him to feel 100 percent and when he feels 100 percent he’ll rejoin activity level and get back to practice because it’s doing us no good to play in three minutes and it’s not doing him any service, either. When he comes back to practice, our hope is he’ll be full go and he’ll feel a lot better.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
Want to receive all of our content via one e-mail in your inbox every day? It’s free. Join our daily mailing list here.
Please consider supporting The Daily Hoosier by shopping on Amazon via this link to the Amazon home page or through the ad below.