INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 8, 2018
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, it's good to get off the road on Monday night and give our guys some time to recover. We're kind of a little bit beat up, probably like a lot of teams this year. So just trying to use the time to recuperate, refresh and work hard in practice for short bursts. But obviously Friday being able to get back on the home court versus Minnesota, we're excited for the opportunity.
Q. Is it almost jarring to the schedule to not be thinking about two games in three days, five games in whatever days?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, we were really on a grind, man. It was difficult to even like process the actual game that you just finished because you were moving so fast into another one. But I think we took some time yesterday. We reviewed the Michigan State and the Rutgers sort of series there, the two games in three days with our team. We were able to talk about some things that happened in those two games that hopefully will help us improve as we keep moving forward, and I think that's the big thing now is to take a deep breath. It's going to go fast, we know that, but keep seizing opportunities for individuals in our team to play their best at the right time of the year. You never know until you keep pounding away, and you just don't know what's ahead of you. One win could lead to a lot of good things.
So we're just trying to prepare to finish the season as well as we can.
Q. Minnesota is a team that's on a long losing streak, but even the game against Nebraska they were in it the whole way.
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, they've got some talented guys. When you think about Nate Mason and Jordan Murphy, they're two of the best players in the conference. Isaiah Washington, a really talented freshman stepping up for them here of late, giving them some added scoring, and they're playing a little bit smaller now, so they're a little bit more difficult to guard.
But we have a lot of respect for them. We played them up there, I guess, beginning of the month of January and had a great win, and I'm sure they'll be ready to play when we see them on Friday.
Q. I don't know about Amir Coffey's availability, but if he is available, what does he bring?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, he's got great size, and he's an additional scoring threat for them, so he puts another offensive player on the floor that's very talented, and typically he's playing the wing, which puts a 6'8" guy on the floor that you have to figure out who you're going to defend with. We're preparing as if he will be available, and knowing how talented he is and watching them on film, he makes them obviously a lot better.
Q. How important was just kind of keeping morale high the last couple weeks?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I mean, we haven't really paid a whole lot of attention. I think our guys have continued to really work. At this time of year if you're playing hard and you're improving, you have a team that's committed to doing things the right way. We hit a few speed bumps, obviously, through a very tough stretch, but I thought in all those games for the most part we were playing the right way, just came up short.
To be able to get the win at Rutgers was really good for our team, just in a sense of we played with good purpose, thought we had great togetherness, and at this time of year, it's sort of what you're looking for. You're looking for a group that's still trying to get everything out of it that they can.
Q. Particularly after the short turnaround, were you gratified by the way they started that game?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, that's the main thing we talked about was a lot of people can make a lot of excuses about the turnarounds and the schedule and fatigue. We didn't start at Ohio State worth a darn really. First eight minutes of the game, we were walking, sort of working uphill the whole time. But the big thing coming off the Michigan State game was the focus, the energy level, the fight that you bring to the game has to be there, and I thought we had that.
Q. How encouraging is maybe that recognition now that you don't have to maybe preach that on a one-day turnaround? You can point to that and still have maybe a little bit more rest in the legs at the same time?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, without question. You've got to take that and bottle it up, and you have to bring that to every game. We'll have a little bit more space in between to prepare and give them a chance to be at their best just in terms of time and freshness mentally and physically. But without question, I mean, if you can bottle that up, that determination, if you can bottle that commitment to how we started the game, especially from an effort standpoint -- we also shared the ball really well in the Rutgers game. So I think there are some real things to kind of build upon as we keep going into this deeper stretch of the league, especially in these last couple weeks, because as you look at our league, it's going to go down to the last week in terms of the standings one through whatever.
Q. Talk about sharing the ball; Devonte seems to be coming along in that way?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, he's done a nice job. You can probably go back to Illinois when he played extended minutes, and then from Purdue, and when you go from Purdue and you go to Ohio State, he obviously had a really good day. He's been building on it, and he's sort of gotten us a guy out there that can make others better, and we've been searching for that really all year in terms of our guard play, which is a high assist guy, or guys who are least thinking about delivering the ball to other people, and I think he's the one guy that's showed here in the last couple weeks he has the ability to make guys better. He's done a nice job with it, and I think as our season starts to evolve, if he stays with it, he'll be a big reason why we're sort of in the winner's circle or not.
Q. Justin Smith had a big game up there in Minneapolis, maybe a little inconsistent of late. Is he someone that needs to come up big tomorrow?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I mean, we need Justin to -- he's playing a lot of minutes for a young guy. He's going through the ups and downs of being a freshman in a tough conference. But the better he plays, the better we are, and I think there's some things that he can really control here down the home stretch that put himself in a situation where he is playing a little bit better. We focused in defense and rebounding. It's something I think that he's got to do a better job of. We talked about that, adding another guy out there that's continuing to rebound the ball and defend. From an offensive perspective, he's got to find his niche on good opportunities and taking advantage of them. But I think just in watching him here of late, he has a chance in the next couple weeks to continue to finish strong for us.
Q. Was this just no-shave Thursday, or are you working on something there?
ARCHIE MILLER: Not working on anything. Just wait until game day to shave.
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