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November 12, 2014

Archie Miller

TIM SIMMONS:  Coach, welcome, and just your opening thoughts about your team's preparation for the season, preseason practices.  Any concerns you might have, strengths of the team?
ARCHIE MILLER:  Okay, thanks.  Obviously we're a work in progress, probably like a lot of teams.  We've had sort of a rough go, almost from last off‑season moving into this preseason fall with just the injury bug.  We've had up to no less than two and no more than four guys out at any given time, and some of those guys have been older, Jalen Robinson and Dyshawn Pierre, two of our juniors that are going to play a big role, have been out.  Working those guys back in has been a challenge, but I do think that the guys that are returning from last year's team really get it, the experience that they got in last year's season, they're well ahead of the game and understanding what it's going to take us, having to mix in some young guys and some new players in practice is always a little bit of a challenge.
But we're like everyone else.  We have a chance to be pretty good on given nights if we play the right way and foul trouble and health is good, and we also have a chance to really take a step back if some of those things don't go well.  But as we approach Puerto Rico, we have one game leading into it, and we've had a scrimmage and obviously an exhibition to kind of see where we're at, and I'd say we're probably right where we need to be in terms of developing.
TIM SIMMONS:  Top players, obviously you've got one of the top players in the country in Jordan Sibert, and then obviously Dyshawn Pierre did a very good job.  How have they been coming along?
ARCHIE MILLER:  Well, Dyshawn is working through injury.  I think by the time we get to Puerto Rico, knock on wood, he'll be hopefully as good as he's been this fall in terms of the conditioning element.  But those two guys on the forefront will be on everybody's find.  They're both pre‑season all‑Atlantic 10 guys.  Both have been here for three years.  Jordan sat, competed, this will be his third, and Dyshawn basically coming into his third year as a starter.  He started almost every game from the third game in of his freshman year.
I think the both of them can play anywhere in the country.  I think both of them have days their concentration level and understand that they're not going to be innocent or forgotten on the report.  I mean, they are the known guys coming into the season.  With that responsibility they have to be very, very focused and concentrated on what we're asking them to do, and we're going to ask them to do a lot.
Some other guys that have really stepped up here in the preseason, a couple returners in Devon Scott and Scooch Smith who played big roles for us at times last year.  They're in new roles this year.  They'll be asked to do more.  Just in looking at some guys as the preseason has kind of finished, I think some of our returning guys are improved, as well.  Like I said, we've got a chance to be okay, but those two guys in particular, Dyshawn and Jordan, they're going to be on everybody's mind here pretty early.
TIM SIMMONS:  Obviously you probably heard Coach Kennedy talk about your team.  What about Texas A&M?
ARCHIE MILLER:  Well, you know, I have great respect for Coach Kennedy.  He's done a tremendous job everywhere he's been.  You can see as the years have gone at Texas A&M what they're building and what they're doing right now.  They have great momentum.  They're always so tough‑minded defensively.  We had a chance to play his Murray teams right before he left.  We played them three years in a row, and I can't tell you the feeling of playing those teams, and I know a lot of that is instilled with him.  Their toughness, their ability to compete on defense, their ability on offense to play very fast ball screen motion, be able to pound you inside.
They're going to be really, really good.  I understand that, and I expect those guys to have a tremendous season with the addition of Jalen.  I think that really will help them, and Caruso, very, very, very impressive here early as we got a chance to look a little bit.  We're not fully aware of what we're going to be dealing with yet.  We've got our own sort of problems coming up here as we deal with our home opener.
TIM SIMMONS:  Any thoughts on your second round, College of Charleston or Connecticut?
ARCHIE MILLER:  Both teams will be terrific.  We know Charleston's personnel.  We were in Charleston a few years ago, know their program well.  They're going to be very well‑coached.  And then obviously UConn speaks for itself, what Kevin has got going on there.  But the entire tournament field is terrific, great coaches, great players, great event.
I know one thing that we're excited about is bringing our fan base down to Puerto Rico.  I think that gives us a shot in the arm when we play here in those events.  Anyone we play in this event is going to be able to beat us, and that gives you great focus and concentration when you come down there.
TIM SIMMONS:  Has your brother put any pressure on you?  He won the tournament and beat Memphis in the final I think in the second year when he was at Xavier.  Any family pressure there?
ARCHIE MILLER:  No family pressure at all.  He's far, far removed I think from that year at Xavier.  When we got to these events, we take them very, very seriously.  We've won Old Spice, we won two in Charleston last year, felt like we were a play away from being in the championship in Maui, playing against Syracuse.
And I think one of the things as we approach these events, it's great to learn about yourself this early in the season against this type of competition.  It prepares you for the grind of the year and what you need to get better on, and that's what we'll focus on as we get down there is the total trip.  But we'll pack that house down there with as many people as possible, and our guys will really be excited to take the floor.

Q.  I was wondering, how do you see the team meshing in chemistry with all the new guys that you guys have on the team?
ARCHIE MILLER:  That's always a challenge.  I think our chemistry a year ago was a lot of different players, sort of early feeling it out was a work in progress, but I will tell you we finished with one of the tighter teams probably in the country.  I think the returning guys that were on that team a year ago know how important chemistry is, and trying to bring the new guys up to speed and at the same time really teach them how we do things and what we do, but chemistry is about the energy level that you and your staff create.  You have to be able to communicate with them, and we're a work in progress right now.  When you have guys in new roles hoping to play well or hoping to get off to a good start here, at times you have guys thinking about themselves.
We're going to try to crack that rock as soon as possible and get guys lined in with their role and doing their job, and I think chemistry comes from a good environment just in terms of the way you treat your guys.  I think we'll work on that every day.  Chemistry is something that can come and go as soon as one guy has a good game or a bad game, so you're always aware of it.

Q.  Sort of following up on that, I'm doing a story for Basketball Times on chemistry and camaraderie in the smart phone social media era.  Do you find it's harder now to get your guys to be friendly, communicate with each other off the court given how often they're on Twitter, Instagram and texting and headphones and things like that?
ARCHIE MILLER:  Yeah, I think you can make a big deal out of it, but in all reality, that's today's culture.  You go to an AAU event, you'll see 17 kids, maybe a couple hundred in the gym with headphones and a cell phone on them.  That's just the way it is.  You have to embrace it.  Like I said, a year ago we had maybe one of the closer teams I've ever been around, and I think the headphones, the cell phones, the Twitter, all that stuff, it is what it is.
But we monitor it.  We take great pride in trying to get our guys to communicate.  It's a different day and age.  I think when it's business, it's business, and when it's away time, you can be yourself.  But you have to be responsible with it.
Us as a staff, us as a program, I think we take a lot of pride in what we do on the practice floor.  That's how you build chemistry.  That's how you learn how to talk, from traveling on the road to ballroom walk‑throughs to film sessions to the practice court.  That's what matters the most.  Off the floor you're always going to have guys that are cliquish and together, and I think you try to keep them in mind and bring that to their attention a lot, that you've got to do things together and whatnot.
But yeah, it's just that day and age.  You have to understand what it's about now, and you've got to embrace it.

Q.  Do you see Puerto Rico as a distraction for your players, even though you know you're going to be playing out here?  It has many attractions for people to go to universities.
ARCHIE MILLER:  No.  We've been in Orlando, Florida, Charleston last year, we were in Maui.  I think it's a great opportunity to go to Puerto Rico.  Our players will take a deeper breath of fresh air to get out of Dayton to be honest with you.  It's about 36 degrees and gray every day.  It's nice to see the sun every once in a while in my opinion.  This is a trip that they should enjoy.  You get these opportunities only so often, and when you're able to go to a place like this and compete and play and be in Puerto Rico, to me these are memory type things where guys can understand how good they really have it.  There won't be any distractions in terms of how nice it is in Puerto Rico.

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