INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 6, 2019
ARCHIE MILLER: We have a break here. Not too much, but an opportunity to get ready for a good two-game home stand. Iowa coming in as good as advertised. They have a great one-two punch inside with Garza and Cook. And they also have tremendous shooting and depth, and one of the best offensive teams that we'll see all season. And mixing up their defenses and whatnot will give us some different looks. And that's our concern coming in is obviously being able to withstand their inside punch and their push and obviously take care of the basketball and continue to try to become a better offensive team. And then we'll finish up on the weekend obviously with Ohio State who is having an excellent season as well. And being back at home hopefully should give us a little bit more confidence coming off the weekend.
Q. Michigan had a bit of trouble with Iowa's zone when Iowa went zone with them. Talk about what you see there and how you hope to maybe address it.
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, they will extend their defenses after free throws and makes at three quarter court, which slows you down. And then obviously when they drop back you are going to have to recognize the sort of zone that they're playing, whether it's traditional, whether it's more of an odd front matchup. And sometimes they will even drop back man-to-man. So they can keep you off balance a little bit with that and take away the rhythm. And they have done a really nice job with that over the course of the season. And they put their guys in a really good situation, I think at times to be big, and they play really a lot of size as well. So without question it's definitely a concern. And they're changing defense, they're extending defenses. One of the few teams in the league that will really give you that look.
Q. Juwan going to play?
ARCHIE MILLER: As far as I know, yeah. He's been back at practice the last couple days and doesn't see any setbacks. I think we avoided maybe a bigger problem, again, being in that shoulder, I think he was really, really scared at the time. He's had some instances there. But I think as it got calmed down and he got home and got some therapy and some treatment he's feeling good and he hasn't missed a practice.
Q. Justin was a guy obviously statistically had a nice game Saturday, but watching it back, it also felt like he was talking a lot, being active and vocal in huddles and things like that. I know obviously you've had to ask some younger guys to step into leadership roles this year because of injuries. Has he maybe started answering that bell a little bit more?
ARCHIE MILLER: He did a really nice job against Michigan State. He was really engaged defensively, made a lot of play, awareness plays over the ball, he communicated in transition quite a bit being able to help not only Jake at times or Juwan at times or even De'Ron at times to get them organized and get them matched up with him and how they were doing things. Offensively he did a really good job creating action. He got assists without being in the stat sheet with some great screens and he made some really, really timely plays. Just all in all he played really hard.
Q. Following up that leadership point, how far has Al come this year in his communication?
ARCHIE MILLER: Al's, like I said, he's an every day guy, he's intelligent, he's there every day, he's got the right mentality as a teammate. He's playing a big role right now just due to all the constant change and turnover and he's a guy that quite frankly we fired him in there in a lot of different roles, but he's playing extended minutes. He's got to continue to be a guy that can stretch the defense for us. I thought he did a really nice job against Michigan State at times driving the ball to pass. A few times he got us some guys some good looks. But in general he's about the right things and he continues to work really hard.
Q. After the Michigan State game you said some clarity had been brought to leadership on the team. Any way you can expand on that?
ARCHIE MILLER: You got to do your job. You don't have the luxury of being whether you're an upper classman or regardless of your status and age, you have to do your job. And I think the clarity of that is you can't have a team that's emotional in terms of the way that they approach one another, regardless of how the game is going with the ups and the downs. You can't show body language or show a team that's just quite frankly is not pulling together. I think we were very, very hard on our guys in terms of that just coming in. But I think after the Rutgers game it was really evident to them as we watched film and you just take a look at the huddles and what's going on on a foul call, it's just guys quite frankly worrying about the wrong things, not the next play. I thought against Michigan State we were much more engaged with one another.
Q. How about in terms of teamwork, too, that the defensive rotations were better against Michigan State. You had people taking away the lane from the help side when they needed to, that kind of thing.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, we were aware. We really focused in on obviously how important it was to get back. And I think the other thing was obviously dealing with their inside attack, how good they are. I don't think we did a great job of being able to defend the post, but we also did pretty good job I thought recovering, whether we were trapping or crowding, there was a lot more activity and we defensively rebounded the ball as on a unit not just one or two guys. We did it as a group by committee and it was throughout the game. But we were definitely engaged in the game, we were ready to play, and a lot of it just came to it just in terms of our preparation. Our practices leading into the game were very good. And I thought that for a time being there we did we played pretty hard defensively.
Q. What's made the Luka Garza kid better as a sophomore? He's been really effective.
ARCHIE MILLER: It's natural progression. He was a very good freshman, in late, in the months of February and March, so you saw him really improve. Coach McCaffery and those guys do a tremendous job with their big guys in terms of them running and being physical, so you could see him grow up at the end of last year. Natural progression, most likely experience, he played a lot as a freshman, now's sophomore. But he's a really good offensive player. They do a great job of being able to pound the ball inside. They force you to run. He's got tremendous size and he's got a really, really good game in terms of being able to score around the basket and also bring you away from the basket at times. So to me he's one of the most improved players in the league.
Q. Personality-wise or confidence-wise does anything look different about this group in the last three days?
ARCHIE MILLER: A win does a lot, especially through the month of January as we obviously didn't play very well and we didn't have a whole lot of spunk, so to speak, at the end of the month. But a win can do a lot for confidence, more so than anything. And I think our guys have practiced the right way coming back off of the weekend trip and we have moved on.
Q. Juwan aside, after a pretty brutal stretch through January, he only played twice basically in two weeks here. These two home games. Is this an opportunity for a guy like Zach, a guy like Race, even a guy like De'Ron maybe to get not just health, but conditioning up?
ARCHIE MILLER: Without question. That's been a big deal for us all year is to be able to have some time to work with them and get the guys that aren't either feeling well or need rest. So we're in a unique situation here. We are going to have some time but Race clearly is making his move back to practice, he's doing well. Zach is still out, not practicing right now. I'm not sure how that will go into the following week, but he won't be available this weekend for sure. And just getting some guys off the normal, you travel that much, it's inevitable guys will get sick. You'll have some guys in and out, so this is a time where hopefully we can continue to recover and play with as many bodies as we have had.
Q. Seemed like you were able to get some useful minutes out of Jake up there. How much has he progressed in recent weeks?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's doing a nice job. He's chomping at the bit to play. He's an eager kid. He's getting out there for the first time and I think he's trying to do what we're asking him to do, he's playing hard through inexperience, which he needs to get out there and play. We need other guys. And you never know at this point in time what we'll be able to do with Race and Cliff as being able to work those guys in as well coming in. And we just, to be honest with you, he's like everyone else, you're searching for answers, and when you get an opportunity, hopefully he can take advantage of it. I thought he did a pretty decent job.
Q. This is a weird question, but you guys are like Top-5 in the country in opponent free throw percentage and obviously Michigan State's number, eight of 22 is low for anybody, and I know that you're not just intentionally fouling guys, but is this a team that's smart about like who to foul where to foul?
ARCHIE MILLER: I don't think a whole lot has went into that. We have been a pretty good team just in general of trying to play hard without fouling, trying to keep guys off the line and maybe here recently, especially the Michigan State game and their inside guys really put it on us a little bit, they got to the line, they didn't make them, it just happens sometimes. But yeah the free throw defense practice, we're not doing that, we haven't been trying that.
Q. What was it like coming off of a win?
ALJAMI DURHAM: It felt good to finally see our hard work in practice, the long stretch that we went on and just us bonding and staying together really finally paid off in that one win at Michigan State in that environment, it felt good.
Q. What was the trip home like?
ALJAMI DURHAM: The trip home? It was like a sigh of relief, like, finally, like we got one. And it just, it felt good.
Q. At the same time I know you guys are taking it game by game but after six of eight on the road and pretty relentless scheduling, you play twice in the next two weeks, you stay home for basically two weeks, what can that do for you guys from a health standpoint, a conditioning standpoint, maybe just alleviating just some of the pressure of the schedule?
ALJAMI DURHAM: We always love playing at home in front of this environment, so I feel like us just being home gives us an extra edge to us and just makes us feel good and gives us time to get treatment and stuff and stay off the road and just be home in a good environment and be comfortable.
Q. Jake, did you know you were going to dunk that ball at Michigan State when you went up?
JAKE FORRESTER: Yeah.
Kind of. Just went up, tried to go after it.
Q. What are you doing better the last few weeks that finally got you on the court?
JAKE FORRESTER: I'm just going hard in practice every single day and when opportunities present themselves I just try to take advantage of it. And people are out, people are sick and I'm just going day by day with it.
Q. Speak about that play again. It looked like Romeo was off balance a little bit. Did you realize he was going to be able to get you the ball?
JAKE FORRESTER: I mean, we practice based on finishing every single day in practice, so I just got in the right position and, I don't know, he somehow got it to me and I somehow dunked it.
Q. You been throwing those down in warm ups almost every game, what did it feel like to finally do that in the game?
JAKE FORRESTER: It was great.
It was really good. I thought it was crazy.
Q. Talk about a little bit obviously Devonte coming back and De'Ron playing 25 minutes, that obviously made a big difference in the last one.
ALJAMI DURHAM: Yeah, they're key contributors to our team and they're a big portion of our team and I feel like having them back and with us on the road and them contributing how we know they can, it was just something that we knew they could do and it just came to light during the game.
Q. I know it can get contagious but you were part of four straight threes kind of down the stretch to help you guys retake the lead, that kind of stuff. Talk about what that's like on the floor when things start clicking a little bit.
ALJAMI DURHAM: When things like clicking everybody's on the same page, everybody's hyped, everybody's excited for each other, so I feel like we just were clicking and everybody was feeling it, so I feel like -- and when it dropped everybody was hyped for it.
JAKE FORRESTER: For real.
Q. What do you know about Iowa?
ALJAMI DURHAM: Iowa? A great team, they're coming off a good win against Michigan and I feel like they're coming in with a chip on their shoulder, so I feel like we got to hold serve at home.
Q. Jake, for you, Iowa's big men run and De'Ron obviously has been working his way back into conditioning, but do you figure like, mentally, you're going to get in, but you're also going to have to run the floor a little bit?
JAKE FORRESTER: Oh, yeah, but that's also one of my assets, running the floor, so I just do what I do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports