INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 28, 2017
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, it's an exciting week and clearly a lot of excitement around the Big Ten Challenge with Duke coming to Bloomington, and then right after that, a quick turnaround to an automatic two Big Ten games in three days. There's going to be a lot of excitement, I think, around the opportunities that we have. I think the games will really bring a heightened sense of awareness to our players. The environments that we're going to be in are what you want to be in when you're at this level. I think this time is a lot of excitement.
When it comes to Duke, I think it's well-versed right now of how talented they are. They're off to a great start at 8-0, and they're battle tested with a Michigan State win neutral, which was a hard-fought game, and then going out to the PK 80 and having some real adversity that you watched them deal with and being able to find a way to win that.
They're really young, as well. I mean, at times you can see four and five freshmen on the floor, but I think there's a reality of how good and how talented those freshmen are. But with Grayson Allen being sort of their leader, they're always going to have a guy there that you're going to be able to count on in big moments in the road venues that they're going into, so we're expecting him to be really on his game, as well.
We have our work cut out for us. We know that. We're trying to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared to play, and there's a lot that goes into this type of game, and we're going to have a good practice coming off of yesterday and then coming into today, and being that it's as late as tomorrow night, have another good shoot-around. But we're excited for the game.
Q. Obviously there's a lot to talk about with Duke and their personnel, but let's start with the front court with Wendell and Marvin. The things they can do on both ends of the court, especially how they can pass, how many problems are there that those two guys present as opposed to maybe a guy who's just a back-to-the-basket guy or something like that?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, it's a daunting task right now just in general when you look at how to keep them off the glass. They're the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the country, and they're also scoring as many point paints if not the most point paints of any team in the country. Both of them are very, very good players in and around the basket. The score, they command a lot of attention. They're also just unbelievable rebounders. If you just watch the Michigan State game alone, I think they got 25 offensive rebounds, and Marvin Bagley didn't play but about 10 minutes in that game. Wendell Carter and the other guys, whether it be Bolden or whoever is in there, they present a serious challenge. But they command a lot of attention. They're good passers. Their reputations speak for themselves.
But it is a daunting task, and I think it starts with, one, the glass and how we keep them off it, and two, clearly trying our best to keep the paint crowded and make them make those guys uncomfortable as possible.
Q. With Duke coming off of three games in four days and you guys not having played since Friday, do you think there's any advantage in you having more rest?
ARCHIE MILLER: I'm not sure. I can't speak to how Duke feels. They play a pretty short rotation. They always have. But they've played eight games already, and I think their ability to get back and get rested up, playing at 9:30 on Wednesday, won't be a real issue for them; especially I think the energy level in the building is going to have everybody ready to go.
For us, we needed some recovery time. We had played two games in three days already twice this season, so be able to get a couple days under our belt and look forward to not only Wednesday but then a quick Saturday-Monday turnaround, I think all of college basketball right now just in general mentally and physically have their challenges. This is just one probably that Duke people can say they may be a little bit fatigued after their trip, but potentially not affect them at all.
Q. Duke has shown some zone throughout the first month so far. How does the last week or two weeks helped you guys prepare for what you might see from them defensively?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think Duke has played a lot of zone here early in the season and has been effective for them at times. If you look at the size they put on the floor in the zone, you're probably not going to be able to see a bigger team in college basketball when it comes to the back line that they've been able to put out there. The Michigan State game they were very active in that zone and caused some turnovers and whatnot. We've seen a lot of zone here early, so as much as any season I've been a part of. We've been having to handle 40 minutes over the last 70 minutes, including Seton Hall half the game in some zone, so we've seen a lot of zone, and we had our best performance against it clearly against Eastern Michigan's zone; we were very effective. If we're playing them, it'll have to be the same way; you have to limit turnovers and you have to attack the paint, but a lot of different size in the back line for them than probably we're accustomed to.
Q. You talked about they've played eight games already, but also they've played in a very tournament-type tested environment. The Texas game alone was a great battle for them, and you guys haven't quite had that kind of experience yet. How does that help them and not help you guys as much?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think that they've probably played, whether it be the Michigan State game or whether the Texas and the Florida game, I think both of those games were NCAA Tournament-esque crowds, environments, and the fact that two of the games that they played in they were down by double figures in the second half and came back and won, you know, speaks volumes about how they're able to handle those types of situations, especially when you consider they do have a lot of freshmen on the floor.
For us we've had one real adverse situation for us, which was on the road against Seton Hall, but we haven't been in this type of environment yet this season, and I think the veteran players need to show, so to speak, their experience level and don't make it bigger than it is.
Q. A guy that could get help against the zone, Collin Hartman, had limited minutes when he came back the other day. Where is he now in terms of how much time he can spend on the floor?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, he was a little bit limited on Saturday in minutes and then just kind of wanted to see how he responded, had a full workout yesterday and was great. He's prepared to go full workout today. I'm going to knock on wood because every time we talk about him here in the press conference it seems like he's getting bit by the injury bug. But we'll be mindful of him, and I think as we get through this Wednesday, every game will be a game-time decision on how we handle him post the workouts or whatever. But it was good to have him back. He's an important piece to what we're doing. If he's around, we're a lot different.
Q. You talked some about their young guys, but Al is a guy you've mentioned just has helped you a lot through the first -- I think he's third on the team now in minutes per game. Talk about the turnovers and the fact that he's just not committing them right now. I don't think he's committed one in more than two weeks. What makes him so good, and maybe as the competition level adjusts up, what do you think are going to be the biggest challenges?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, Al has done a nice job. He's played the game within himself. He's taken what the defense has given him. He has a high IQ just in terms of what we're trying to look for, and he's efficient with his dribble. He's not a guy that has to have the ball in his hands for long periods of time to make plays. He uses his shot, he plays in straight lines, makes the simple play, and I think if he's not No. 1 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio, he's up there pretty high, I believe. He's done it over the course of six games, and I trust him. Our players trust him. I think as the season get ratcheted up, as we'll see here over these next couple, he's going to be a guy that plays a big role for us. He was good at Seton Hall, and I think coming into this game he'll be ready to play. I don't think he's afraid of anything, which is a good thing. But he's smart and he stays with it; he's very efficient. The one thing about Al is he's playing the game within himself, and I think as experience gets under his belt, you'll start to see a guy who shoots the ball a lot better than he has here early in the season.
Q. You say he's not really afraid of anything. Where do you think that comes from for him specifically?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think all kids grow up in certain environments. I think, one, Al is from a basketball family. I think his father is a tough-minded guy who was on him. He's played at a high talent level growing up just in terms of being in the Atlanta area in high school, and then if you mix in his AAU experiences, he's played against pretty much every guy in the country, and in particular there's a couple guys that he's played against from Duke that he grew up playing against them. I think he's got an experience level. I think he's been taught the game, and he's had a lot of good coaches like his father. He's got a great family, but I think his father knows the game very well and has been hard on him growing up. He's a guy that's kind of a throwback. You love having a guy in practice like him; he doesn't say a whole lot, he's playing to win and he's trying like crazy to do everything he can to help the team.
Q. Obviously given that front court that Duke has, how confident do you feel in your own front court that guys like Freddie and Justin to be ready for that?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, it's going to be a challenge. I mean, you're dealing with elite size, not just from him but even their subs when they come in. We'll be undersized at times. I think De'Ron is probably the only guy that's going to look the part in terms of standing next to him. But we have to be smart. You have to be tenacious. You have to use your quickness, and you have to have a team approach. It can't just be one-on-one. But all hands are on deck, and there's no real reason to look at it and say that this guy can't do this or that. I mean, you can watch a lot of teams play in college basketball with different sizes and they get the job done. We just have to be pretty good at what we're doing and keep working at it.
Q. You talk about all hands on deck; Clifton Moore, where is he at in his development and how close is he to maybe getting some minutes?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, Clifton is working towards exactly that, which is trying to find his niche and fine his role. I think Clifton knows as we've started the season and how we're going, he's got to continue to learn the game, the game of basketball from an IQ standpoint and learning the physicality of it and how important it is to be just on top of things defensively and angles and being able to rebound the ball, and then when you go to the offensive side of the ball, just being comfortable in certain areas and catching. He's learning all that, and he's got a great attitude. He comes to work every day. He's got a bright, bright future, and our hope is, like I told him, if he stays with things, you'll never know when your number is going to get called. I wouldn't be surprised if it's not Wednesday night. So he's got to keep with that attitude, he's got to keep working, and then when he gets his chance, capitalize on it and find more ways to impact our team.
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