INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 10, 2019
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, well, we've returned back to work from Michigan. Disappointed in the way that we played at Michigan. There were some things that clearly stood out on film that we didn't get done on either end of the floor, and we went sort of hard back to work on that. Had a few good days of preparation and practice and getting ready to play against a really talented, big Maryland team that's playing very well right now.
We've got our hands full tomorrow night. We're going to have to be a lot better on both ends of the floor than we were on Sunday, and expect it obviously to be a very, very hard game. For us, hopefully we continue to battle and get better here as January goes.
Q. Rob, is he in position to play tomorrow?
ARCHIE MILLER: As of right now, he's not. He's continuing to, I guess, further along some of the stuff that he's doing on a daily basis. He hasn't had any setbacks. I'm encouraged to watch him participate more in practice, but he has not been cleared to do anything full contact yet, and he'll have another day today where hopefully we can get him moving in the right direction. But as of right now, there's no indication he'll play for us on Friday.
Q. Asking more broadly about the injuries, you've talked about ways that maybe you've had to tailor practices without having a full complement. What have you maybe changed in terms of just the way you approach day-to-day when you don't have guys around, and have you seen maybe the guys who are healthy adjust to not having -- to maybe playing a couple guys down every day in practice?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's tough. I mean, practice is where we -- like every coach, you want to have a great environment in practice. It's where you get better. The ability to work hard every day prepares you to play in the game. You just can't play in the games.
It's been difficult on us just to be able to continue to kind of balance the reps and sort of rest, recovery versus the actual ability to have to prepare to play in the game.
We've sort of bounced around it here and there, and we've had very few days where we've had our full allotment, so I think our guys on the team are used to it, and we have to back our time up a little bit, as well. Can't go as long. But every coach in the country is dealing with guys in and out of practice every day at this time of year. It's very rare that you don't have something going on on a daily basis. You just have to adjust to it and move around it.
Q. Looked like Michigan's size was able to kind of bother Juwan a little bit in that game, specifically Teske early on in the game. Against a Maryland that also has a bigger front line, how do you find ways to work around having a smaller front court?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, you know, Juwan uncharacteristically didn't finish as well as he had normally done, and maybe Michigan had a little bit to do with it, but the shots that he missed weren't challenged at times. I think he just, as everybody does, he had a harder game.
But Maryland's size is definitely a gift for them. It's a strength. Defensively around the basket things will be very hard. Jalen Smith, Bruno, they bring in Bender, as well, who's got great size. So around the rim is going to be tough.
Rebounding is going to be really, really tough. But Juwan knows how to deal with that. He's been playing I don't know how many games this year. I guess 15 this year and whatever he played last year, and around the basket I think he's pretty comfortable in terms of being able to do what he needs to do. But we'll continue to move him around and we'll continue to try and get him the same quality a shot that he's been getting because he's shooting a high percentage.
Q. You talk about the size that Maryland has; I guess first off, what's the status of De'Ron for the game, and in addition to that, whether or not he can go, how does that affect how your front court players have to deal with the size and battling in different points and rebounds?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, De'Ron is still struggling a little bit with his mobility. His ankle is sore. He's sort of in and out of practice, and some things he can do, some things he can't do. I'm hopeful he'll be available to play on Friday, but if he can't, Cliff Moore has got to get in there and got, Fitzner has got to give us more right now, and we have to find ways to get those guys more involved early in the game.
You know, hopefully Jake coming off his ankle -- he still isn't doing real well right now in terms of being out for practice. I wish he was available because we could use another body right now just in terms of the size that we're going to be dealing with. But it is what it is. I just think the guys that played at Michigan, those guys need to be better and they need to be ready to go earlier in the game and hopefully we're a little bit smarter with our foul trouble and whatnot, but we need to get those guys in there. Evan in particular and Clifton in particular I think will play a big role here in the next couple weeks for us hopefully.
Q. What concerns you most about Maryland? They're a top rebounding team in the league.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I would say the two things that are very concerning is their inside attack on offense. They have the ability to go to two guys, not just one, and rebounding. They're plus 10 on the glass right now, I think, through their Big Ten games. It's one of their greatest strengths is their ability to offensive rebound and their ability to keep you off the glass, so their rebounding margins, something that post attack really good job of having their -- I think they're the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the league right now in league games, and they don't take a ton but they take good ones. Anthony Cowan, he's really, really good, and Eric Ayala as a freshman is really good, Wiggins off the bench shooting the three, so they've got a lot of different things that they're doing well.
I think they're coming together at the right time. That Minnesota win was obviously very, very impressive, but what stands out the most is obviously their ability to hammer the ball inside and their ability to pound the glass, and those are two big concerns.
Q. With Rob out, Romeo has been handling the ball a little bit more often, specifically in the pick-and-roll. Do you see that as being something you go to and lean on more often, even when Rob comes back after that injury?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, without question. I mean, Romeo is a primary ball handler for us. We were leaning in this direction here for a few weeks leading into Christmas and leading out, and we're going to continue to find ways to put the ball in his hands and do different things because obviously he's a tough cover. The more he has opportunities to play in space, the better off our team will be, because he's a willing passer, but he also has the ability to get to the basket. But without question, he'll continue to see a lot of opportunities.
Q. It feels like Justin Smith has started to figure things out a little bit more, been more consistent the last couple weeks. How do you feel like his game has changed or taken a step forward since a tough game at Duke?
ARCHIE MILLER: Justin has really done a nice job for us. He's as improved a defender as there is in our conference, as improved a defender as I've coached in a year and a half. He's giving us some things that we really haven't seen in a while. When you start to look at his Big Ten games and you start to look at who he has to guard every game and his ability to not only handle his own but do a great job holding that man down, he's good there. He's offensive rebounding at a really good rate right now, and he's not turning the ball over, and we've just got to find more ways for him to find ways to use his driving ability and some things like that. But Justin is really counted on right now by our staff. He's doing a really good job.
Q. How much have you maybe come to trust him on that defensive end?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's as trusted as we have. He really is as trusted as we have. He's guarding -- in a typical fashion as you play the game, he's guarding usually a mismatch type of a player every game, whether that's Jordan Nwora or -- you just look at -- Iggy last game he had to guard. The game prior to that, he's guarding perimeter players on the three-point line the whole game against Illinois. You just start to look what you're asking him to do, and it's hard what we're asking him to do. But to cover inside out and be able to guard the three-point line, guard the dribble, guard the post, defending ball screen actions, which is usually very tricky when you're dealing with guys that he's guarding because of the way they shoot and drive, I have a lot of trust in him. Our staff does, as well, over the course of how the season has gone. When Justin is engaged and he competes, he's a very, very impactful player for us. So he's doing a get job, like I said. Hopefully we can continue to keep him evolving as the season goes along. But without question, he gives us a guy out there that I think really understands what we're trying to do.
Q. Your own team's offensive rebounding numbers are not one of the better ones offensively, at least. Is that a factor, being careful on defense and not working to stop the transition, or is it just kind of the personnel?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, it's unique. At the beginning of the season when we had our depth, it was one of the things that we were really striking to try and emphasize was the offensive rebounding with the amount of depth that we had and the amount of different guys that we had coming in with great size and length. As our team has sort of evolved, we've been much more on the conservative getting back, not to say that we're not emphasizing certain guys having the opportunities to do it, but we're definitely not built right now to just pound the glass. The amount of minutes sometimes that Juwan has to play, that's an effort level that you're asking him to do everything.
I do think as January continues to go, it's got to be something that we can get a couple different guys giving us more opportunities. I think Zach McRoberts, his health has really limited the hustle rebounding, the hustle effort plays that he's been able to give us that you're so accustomed to seeing him make, and hopefully, knock on wood, he keeps continuing to feel good and continues to keep getting some reps and maybe in games now that we can start maybe emphasizing his activity level going back to the glass.
We've got to get -- Romeo at times has to find more effort plays at the rim for offensive rebounds. I think Justin is doing a good job right now. I think Juwan is doing a good job. Hopefully we can get De'Ron back in the game and find a way to get us a couple more. I think that percentage can go up, but I also think we have to pick our poison a little bit in terms of how many minutes guys are playing and what we're asking them to do.
I definitely think our offensive rebounding took a hit and has taken a hit over the course of the season, but I also tend to think that sometimes just getting back and getting our defense set is just as important as getting out of position.
But maybe a few other guys here as the season continues to evolve we can strike some numbers, but I don't think as of right now offensive rebounding is just going to be a great, great strength for us.
Q. Another guy that it feels like is kind of in hot and cold a little bit offensively is Al Durham, but it does seem like he's tried to be very aggressive at times. Is he a guy that you can see maybe the growth of his offensive game, the way that his defensive game has grown in the last year and a half?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, he's fine. Al is shooting good percentages. We've got to continue to have him be aggressive. He's a good three-point shooter. He also can get downhill. I think the big thing for Al is just continuing to keep work the way he's working. He's going to have more good moments, so to speak, for our team. We count on him, and he's playing a lot right now.
But I'm not as consumed with how much he scores or whatnot. I think that will come as long as he just keeps doing what he's doing. We're able to get him and Devonte in particular, our two primary ball handlers, to do a better job, I think, of finding more assists. Those guys got to start to hunt the assists as much as they do the challenge shot at the basket every once in a while because I think we're missing some open shooters or some opportunities to get some easy looks on their penetration.
But Al is doing a good job. He works extremely hard, and he sets himself up every game to hopefully play well with the way he prepares, so he's fine.
Q. You mentioned Juwan Morgan's minutes a little bit and getting out there, obviously he's playing a ton of minutes early this season. Still in the middle of the season, but how much are you keeping on eye on that heading into Big Ten play?
ARCHIE MILLER: We're keeping an eye on him. He's getting tired out there. I thought he got tired against Michigan, some of the finishes that he had. He's going up against big bodies. He's playing a lot of minutes. We're asking him to do a lot on both ends of the floor, and you can tell sometimes he's gassed out there, and that's where the depth comes in and the trust comes in and being able to get him opportunities to get quick blows. We have to do a better job of that. In my opinion especially in the first half if we can where you can get him a couple opportunities to rest in the first half, and then the second half obviously you're playing the way that you have to play it. But in our games and in these games right now, they're just so hotly contested and he's such an important piece to what we're doing, he's got to be out there. We just probably need to do a better job of picking our spots when we can get him a quick blow.
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