INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 12, 2018
Q. If you'd just go ahead and talk a little bit about Northwestern.
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, yeah, Sunday's game is going to be a very difficult challenge for us. Northwestern is a veteran team that's played a lot of ball together over the course of their career. Had a great win against Minnesota, played really inspired in that game. You could tell they had great motivation in this last one.
We have to be ready to go. I think they've showed changing defenses here late. That's always something that's given us some problems, and they're a team that really executes on offense. They run a ton of stuff to get guys good looks, and everything kind of goes through Bryant McIntosh, who with 16 assists, zero turnovers in his last game is pretty impressive. We have our work cut out for us.
Q. In terms of your team and kind of the response you got from Minnesota to Penn State, do you see -- are you continuing to get good responses in practice, maybe you build one positive result on another?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think we've been getting better. I thought we responded well after our Wisconsin game, and we came to Minnesota and fought our way all the way to the end, and then coming home, playing against Penn State is very talented, a difficult team to guard off the dribble. I thought our guys, again, stuck with it and just kind of played tough-minded, played through stretches where we haven't scored or made some shots, and we've kind of hung in there.
Two good wins in the league, and have a chance to play a really good Northwestern team here. So we should be excited to play on Sunday, have a couple days here to continue to work at it.
Q. What are the keys if you kind of break down the last two performances, what do you feel you can build from and what do you need to build on?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think it starts and stops with our team and rebounding. We rebounded really well in the last couple games, and from an offensive rebounding perspective, that's given us as much of an added punch as anything. Guys just continuing to work with great motor, different guys contributing on the glass, and one of the big reasons why we beat Penn State was the second opportunities we had, the amount of second-chance baskets. I thought it was good against Minnesota. So that's been good.
But our defensive rebounding is something that also has done a pretty good job in the last two games. I didn't think we rebounded the ball at all in the second half against Wisconsin, and I think guys have taken the message. Our guards have to get in there and mix it up. Robert has done a really nice job, as has Zach, of defensive rebounding out of their area, going in there and cleaning some things up, and obviously Juwan speaks for itself and what he's doing. So the rebounding focus coming into league play is something that's very important.
I think from an offensive perspective, we're not turning the ball over as much, especially in our last couple games. I think we've played with about an average of 11, which is good, and I think we're getting some pretty good looks. If we could ever start to get a little bit more consistency shooting the ball, I think we could be even better offensively. But just not taking care of the ball, getting better shots I think has been big, and also the rebounding emphasis.
Q. Without De'Ron, how do the rebounding expectations change with Juwan in the cards?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think not having De'Ron in there with his size, obviously from our team's perspective, I think everyone has to understand how important it is from -- it's an all-five-guys approach on defense, and from an offensive rebounding standpoint, finding a way to get second shots when guys are coming in there. But rebounding, the awareness. We know we're not as big, so it's got to be a team approach to what we're doing and understand how important it is to be able to hold our own on the glass. It's a big part of this league just in general. So yes, De'Ron's absence has created a sense of awareness, and it's got to be a desperate awareness that rebounding is something that's vital.
Q. Justin kind of struggled to get going the other night, but do you still kind of foresee him being able to step up in a bigger way?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, without question he's going to have a much greater role. Got a tough start against Penn State, coming off of a really good game. Lamar Stevens is a tough cover, and I thought he picked up a couple quick fouls, which got him out of rhythm, and then in the second half he didn't have a chance to really get going. But I expect clearly a much bigger role that he's got to anticipate is coming his way just the same.
Q. Now that De'Ron has had the surgery, what do you expect his recovery timeline and prognosis to be moving forward?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's been given a good prognosis of full recovery. We have great optimism that everything has gone well. I think the procedure now is for him probably in about six months to be going on his feet, so he's got upwards into the summertime. He has to rehab and do his part over the next few months, and as we get through the spring and the early part of the summer, we expect him to start to be back on his feet, and hopefully getting cleared to start training more so in our summer school. He's got a chance now to take a deep breath and do his rehab, Tim, the docs are all going to be on him, and the big thing for him will be to manage this off-season through surgery, his conditioning and his weight and just being able to get off to a good start when he does have a chance in the summertime.
Q. You have a little time to prepare for Northwestern. You mentioned their multiple defenses, and I think you said they play 2-2-1, for example, which you don't see very often. How important is it for the guys to recognize that on the court?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think they went exclusive to it against Minnesota with the two-two-one drop matchup zone, maybe caught Minnesota off guard a little bit just because they hadn't been doing it, and they were able to stay with it. For us having a few days to prepare is going to be key, changing defenses, what they're in, and how we have to attack it to get good looks. I think one of the things about our team is you can't live and die by the jump shot. I think that's the one thing we want to avoid as we get ready to go against the mix or the match or whatever it may be is to continue to work and find ways to attack the paint, get fouled, post the ball a little bit. So we're going to have to be organized for sure. It'll give us a few days here to go against it. It is unique. Very few teams in our league are playing like that.
Q. Clifton has played, I think, eight minutes in the last month. Is there a point where you have to maybe kind of throw him in there to get him ready in case he needs to play longer stretches?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think so. I think with injuries and foul trouble there's always going to be that opportunity where he's going to get his chance. We want him to be ready. He's working extremely hard in practice. He's getting a lot of reps now in practice. But I think when his time comes to not have him not ready is unfair. I definitely think we have to try to find ways to get him in there, so when he is called upon to do things for longer stretches of time that he feels more comfortable. We're looking for those opportunities right now, and when we feel he's ready, he'll get them.
Q. Is it something that maybe he needs to show you in practice, or does he just need to be more physically ready? What do you need to see from him?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think physically being ready to battle and being ready to attack the glass and some of the things that he's going to be asked to do. He's been up against that a little bit just from a strength perspective, but he's getting better at it, and I think with his looks and some of the things he's getting in practice to be more confident offensively, to just be himself and try to continue to work through what we're doing, take chances in practice working on your game, so to speak, and when you have your opportunities in the game, you feel more comfortable. He's just learning. He's learning the college game. He's been a great teammate, and he's really a great kid. Good things happen to those guys.
Q. With De'Ron being out, has it brought the team together as a committee on everything, but also made you guys a little quicker defensively getting to the rebounds a little faster maybe?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think any time a guy goes down, it does -- especially a big part of your team guy like De'Ron, I think everybody takes a keep breath and says, wow, this is going to be hard, we've really got to be locked in to what the coaches are saying. We have to get the most out of every rep in practice. I think there is an awareness thing that your guys immediately say to themselves, man down, that gives other guys opportunities. You get that tightness, that toughness, sometimes when a guy goes down. We're definitely way quicker, and we're way faster defensively. We have much more versatility with our front court in terms of the quickness level. It's something that, as one negative thing happens, you have to just immediately find the next positive and take advantage of it, and we're trying to fly around a little bit more, but definitely I think we've been quicker to the ball a little bit, and just finding a way right now to continue to create an identity with this new crew, and I think they've done a nice job in the way they've played the last couple games.
Q. Obviously Juwan is a guy who gives you a front court presence and you work a lot through him. Northwestern has a kid up front that they like to work their offense through. Can you talk about him a bit?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, Dererk Pardon is a really good player. He's got a great presence. They do a great job getting him the ball in certain spots. Got great touch around the basket. Got range to 15 to 16 feet. His length gives them a guy on the offensive glass in and around the basket. Definitely one of the better front court players that we've seen, and just in watching how they play, they definitely don't neglect him. They find ways to get him the ball. So it's going to be really important for our team to do a great job of, number one, trying to limit catches and limit easy catches, keeping him off the glass, but a lot like Watkins against Penn State and a lot like Murphy and some of those guys against Minnesota, we're seeing big guys that are a part of the game plan, and for the most part, I think we're doing a decent job right now just with our quickness and crowding and trapping and doing our best to try to make it hard for those guys, but he's a tough kid.
Q. How helpful is it for De'Ron to have a guy like Collin to lean on who just went through a long rehab process last year?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think any time you get injured, you want to be around guys that support you and have been through sort of the ups and the downs that can kind of -- it's not always fun when you're going through your rehabilitation after surgery. There's some very, very frustrating days, especially when you're sitting there on the bench and you're watching guys play. It's definitely good to have a group around him. Collin has definitely been a supportive guy. But I just think in general our staff, Tim Garl, our doctors, there's a lot of people around De'Ron that are going to take good care of him.
Q. Collin, is it just with the shoulder or is it just kind of a fatigue thing and he's got to manage it basically, or is there something more?
ARCHIE MILLER: No, it came out a little bit in practice. It's one of those deals that went back in, and sometimes those things take a couple days. They're really better, so I think it'll be a week by week thing as long as he doesn't have a setback. That he'll get better. He's uncomfortable with the brace. I don't think he likes to wear the brace, but it's something, I think, that is going to be protective and supportive of him. He'll get used to it. I thought against Penn State he played with a great motor, had some really great looks. They just didn't go in. But he got 27 minutes, and that was really big with Justin's foul trouble.
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