INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 2, 2018
ARCHIE MILLER: We're heading into another two games in three days. Obviously Michigan State presents a heck of a challenge. I think the first time we played them, we caught them playing maybe as well as they've played all season. Their physicality, the speed with which they played at, the toughness, it was all on display. We really didn't have a whole lot of answers that night.
We're going to have to be a lot better in a lot of areas. Hopefully we have an energized building that helps our guys compete. It's going to be one of those nights where you're going to have a tough, hard-fought night.
Our guys, next couple days of preparing mentally and physically, just to get up for what is one of the best teams in the country.
Then we'll depart on Sunday, head to play Rutgers on Monday night on a short turnaround. Rutgers is an extremely hard-playing team. Watching them on film, the way they defend, the way they rebound right now, is as good as any in the league. It will be a really hard, hard game for us, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You had to bring in different lineups this year. How tough has it been competing in this Big Ten season this year?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's been tough. I mean, we've had setbacks with injuries. We haven't really had our full roster for portions of the season. That's always difficult.
But you look for guys to step up. Guys have I think done a good job of that, earning more minutes, competing and playing hard. You're trying to do your best to play the best basketball you can at this time of year.
Obviously the schedule is well-documented. Everyone has had to deal with it. We're no different than any other team. You have bumps and bruises along the way. You have to find a way to hang in there. That's what we're pretty much doing right now.
As you get through Rutgers, it spaces out a little bit more. The light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, is going to go really fast. At that point hopefully you're playing your best ball.
Q. How much of a factor is Michigan State's talent and the number of guys they have with size?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I mean, they're really hard to deal with. I mean, it starts with tremendous physicality at all positions, not just one. When they sub, in particular defensively, they don't really take a dropoff. They can continue to just keep coming with the physicality on the glass and the speed with which they play at on offense. Their depth is definitely a strength.
But I think their overall size and talent level, obviously experience that their freshmen got a year ago turning into sophomores, you can see a team that's got a lot ahead of them.
They are tough to deal with. There's very little dropoff on either end of the floor, their execution, when they sub. They got guys stepping up, playing well within their roles.
If you look at their starting five, you could argue, make a case it's probably one of the most talented starting fives in college basketball.
Q. You talked about Devonte responding from Purdue. What did it look like in terms of him getting focused in on rebounding the way he did?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think it's just attitude. I thought he had a humbleness about him. I think most guys can react in certain ways when they don't maybe play as well or didn't play as much minutes as he wanted against Purdue. I thought he had a humbleness about him. I thought he paid attention. His attention to detail in our walk-throughs and conversations and scouting was much better.
You could tell on game day, through our game day prep, in the shootaround, he was pretty dialed in. I thought he had a pretty good attitude going into that game. He played really well. He was under control. He was one of the lone bright spots in the game.
Q. Justin seems like down the line he could be a better rebounder. Has then been a point of emphasis?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's a big topic of conversation for him and our team coming down the stretch. We're not rebounding at that spot very well. It's hurt us.
Justin has had his moments where I think he's really attacked the offensive glass, showed his talent level there. But the physicality, the one-on-one rebounding battles, just the strength to go up and get balls, wanting to get balls, he's got to have a different mindset finishing out this month as we get into conference tournament, whatnot.
It would be a big, big lift, as we talked about yesterday with him, if he could start to really concentrate and start to rebound at a higher clip.
Obviously when you're undersized, at times you're relying on guards to get in there and clean up. When you have those 50/50 one-on-one balls you got to get, he's got to come down with more of those. I think there's something we're going to focus really a lot on him as these games continue to go.
Q. Collin making any progress since he warmed up on Tuesday? Do you expect to have him tomorrow night?
ARCHIE MILLER: Not sure if he'll play against Michigan State, but he is making progress. He's more of a non-contact mode in practice. I think he'll continue to progress that a little bit today. To throw him in against Michigan State without really playing the past couple weeks would be difficult. Maybe Rutgers. But he's moving in the right direction.
Q. (Question regarding Freddie.)
ARCHIE MILLER: Freddie has strung together -- our last three games, he's done a nice job. He's competed probably as well as anybody inside defensively. He continues to sort of give us activity on the glass, rebound. He's had moments where he's been able to finish some balls off around the basket for us. He's playing well. Probably his best stretch.
Definitely going to need him as many minutes as he can handle against Michigan State just because the amount of size they have on the floor.
He's quick. He's battling. He's got to use his quickness, do his work early. He's got to play longer stretches for us where he doesn't get tired. He's battling for us right now.
Q. What is the difference in preparing for a team when you're playing them the second time in a season versus the first time?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think obviously you take 90% of your inventory on only one game. You don't have to watch 10 games. You have to watch the first game you played them, what went well, how did you execute on both sides of the ball, and how do you have to be better moving into game two in some of the areas they hurt us in.
It wasn't so much as plays that hurt us in that game as much as it was their style. They ran faster than us, they posted harder than us, they rebounded with greater toughness on both ends. They just didn't allow us on the A, B, C things. We weren't good in the normal A, B, C basketball plays. It wasn't about intricate systems or all that. We got out-physical'd, we got out-manned.
Coming into Saturday, that's probably the biggest thing, we're going to have to be much better in those areas.
Q. In the first game they kind of seemed like they came out and punched the team in the mouth. Never recovered. What do you need to do to prevent that from happening again?
ARCHIE MILLER: I mean, it starts, in my opinion, with them with their break. Their break really hurt us. Nick Ward's ability to command attention at the basket, in transition, their push up the floor with the pass. It was just on us really, really fast. It didn't let up.
I think that's the thing the team sort of has to understand. It's not like, hey, this first six minutes is important, but every single time you're going to have to do it.
I really thought they were just faster on everything that they were doing than us. We were reaction oriented. They definitely had a plan that night. They executed it really well. It will be much similar on Saturday. I don't see them changing a whole lot.
Q. (Question regarding Cassius Winston.)
ARCHIE MILLER: He's having a great year for their team. He's shooting the ball extremely well. He's pushing the ball much faster right now. In game one he had eight assists, one turnover. I think you see a guy that's got a lot more experience than he's had. I think he knows exactly what coach wants him to do.
The fact he's shooting the ball like he's shooting it, just an added weapon for them. I think most people will tell you probably he's a big key on how far they can go at the end of the year. If he plays well, they're really hard to deal with.
Q. Zach has been more active recently. Is that something you told him to do?
ARCHIE MILLER: He has to be aggressive within his role. I think at times teams choose to back off on him, not guard him, do certain things. The ball usually finds those guys certain times.
He's got to step up and take the good shots. He's capable of making them. But just staying within his role. At times he has been as good as anybody on the floor for us doing what he does. We're pleased with him.
I think moving forward, yeah, continuing to have him be aggressive offensively just in terms of when he's open, taking good shots.
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