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November 24, 2017

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 87, Eastern Michigan - 67

COACH MILLER: Good win for our team. One-day prep for Eastern Michigan is hard. They play a very unique zone defense, and until you see them up close you don't really realize how long and how big they are. And playing against them in the past, I knew this was going to be a challenging game, especially on one day.

But I thought our staff and our team really worked hard yesterday to identify a couple of real key concepts to work against the zone, which was clearly to establish the ball getting inside and working through the paint. And I think that's a big reason why we had only eight turnovers. And also think the shot selection, being able to play inside the zone and out was pretty good. Guys got good looks and were able to knock them down for really the first time -- watching Josh and Rob make some shots, it felt a little different out there for us.

But all in all, good win for our team. We have to get back to the basics here and figure it out. And obviously Wednesday night is going to be a big game for us, just like every other game has been. But I think the competition level moving forward the next couple of weeks is going to be something that's really, really challenging for us. So we'll go back to work, use this weekend to get rested up and start over again next week.

Q. Obviously first time with Collins back on the court. Take us through the decision process and where he got to be (indiscernible)?
COACH MILLER: The hope was to get him in maybe this week. I don't think he was very confident in himself. And that prevented him from playing on Wednesday.

The day in between, I think Tim and our docs really gave him encouragement that he's fine. I think for the first time he said to myself, if I'm going to get going I've got to get going. I've got to try it.

He was cleared yesterday. And definitely wanted to have an opportunity to see him get out there just so he can get moving. And lo and behold, bangs his first three and I think obviously a lot of pressure out of the building for him. So hopefully, knock on wood, keeping him healthy and getting him back, reacclimated into the lineup is really important.

Q. You touched on it a moment ago (indiscernible) to get your senior guards going?
A. It's really important because they're going to end up spearheading us through the rest of our season because of their experience level and the amount of games that they've played. And I think tonight those two guys were very efficient. I think you got a chance to see their ability to shoot the ball, which we haven't been doing very well right now in terms of just making shots.

But those two guys stepped in, they were ready to shoot and shot with great confidence. So really pleased with them. I thought Josh was by and afar a big, big difference maker today for us.

Q. You talked about zone starting Wednesday night. Just how well -- especially (indiscernible). Just the start of both halves it felt like you guys were really crisp?
COACH MILLER: I thought our guys did a good job. We've actually been playing against a lot of types of zones here early in the season. It hasn't been a big flurry of man-to-man, so we've actually been working against it quite rarely. But that's a different zone, much more of a Syracuse feel with the wings very high on the floor, and they have legit size. It's tough to see them over at times.

So hitting the creases with the bounce passes and being able to work it then from either their partners in the paint with playing behind the backboard or them getting it out opposite for good looks, for the most part very patient. When we didn't working it outside, I don't think we're as good. But clearly to get eight turnovers was a big deal because if you turn it over against them, that's when they can become a real problem in transition for you.

Q. De'Ron and Juwan assisted each other on the first two buckets --
COACH MILLER: Yeah, we always tell them look for your buddy. There's usually going to be one opposite or one in the middle, one under or one over. And first look on any catch in the post or any catch in the paint is obviously your buddy.

I thought they did a great job of finding him early behind the basket. And De'Ron, in particular, was very effective. He wasn't on the floor enough for us because he can command a lot of attention and he's a good passer.

Q. 29 bench points. But the job that Freddie and Zach in particular did, can you talk about that?
COACH MILLER: Absolutely. I thought for the first time all season we just dove into the bench regardless of what we were thinking prior to going in. And it was a good step in the right direction for our team.

Sometimes it's not an individual's certain night; he doesn't have it going, and you have to be willing to trust the guys that are in there every day.

And Zach, in particular, what a great teammate. Probably should be in there a lot more right now and us learning our team and how we're doing things.

I think today he showed what he can bring to the table, which is an awesome attitude, unbelievable work ethic. And what he did in practice is what he did in the game. He impacted our team in a positive way.

Freddie really rebounded the ball for us tonight, had to play extended minutes, which was good to see. He continues to really go after balls, which is his best attribute. He did a really nice job.

And I thought other guys stepped up and played as well. Justin made some good plays. Al continues to be stellar just in terms of us trusting him with his IQ and how he plays.

To be honest, I'm not sure he's had a turnover in almost four games or whatever it may be. And he's doing a good job.

But we're going to get contributions I think all the way down the line and it's going to be one of those teams, I think, on a given night different guys will have to be ready to step up.

Q. With all the games you've had, you talked about how it's going to be a tough stretch, but tonight, the game, it all seemed to come together. Shots were falling and (indiscernible) was working hard underneath. How do you see those guys getting so much energy after having been worked so hard?
COACH MILLER: We've had -- this has been an odd opening couple of weeks for us just as a staff. Usually you play like a Wednesday, Saturday. And you have another Wednesday/Saturday.

We've been very odd where it's been Friday to Sunday to Wednesday, I think again to Saturday or Sunday for South Florida, then coming back Wednesday/Friday. So the rhythm our players get in is hard.

They need rhythm as a player to rest, prep, play. We've been on the fly. And to their credit in the off days or the days in between the games, they've locked in on the message, whether that was disappointment from how we approached Arkansas State defensively, or some of the things we were going to have to do against the zone tonight, they took that and did a really nice job trying to execute it.

When the shots go in, when you make them, it makes everything look better, feel better. To have a couple of open ones go in was big.

Q. What did you think about the performance defensively and specifically on -- mainly in the second half (indiscernible)?
COACH MILLER: He got really going in the first half and we were soft on closeouts. I don't think -- you appreciate how big he is. Even if you're there he can get it off because of his size. And I think he made five 3s in the first half or four. Second half -- four 3s in the first half, and in the second half much better detail in terms of making them put the ball on the floor, make their team in general, try to put the ball on the floor, don't give him easy looks.

We were better in the second half. Just in terms of being able to address him, we still have a lot of things to work on. And clearly it's -- you want to say a work in progress, but we have to continue to try to get better. Our half court defense has to keep getting better.

Now it's going to be put to the test with the offenses and the teams we're playing that you're going to have to be really dialed in here moving forward over the next couple of weeks.

Q. Seemed to me it was characterized by hustle plays. Was it music to your ears to hear Juwan squealing when he got that ball and got (indiscernible)?
COACH MILLER: Juwan had great effort there at times. I think Josh Newkirk made one of the great run-down blocks, and unfortunately we had three guys over there standing around watching him, and didn't run down to get the rebound. We had a lot of hard plays guys were making -- if you look at the offensive rebounding numbers in the second half -- challenged our team in the second half.

We weren't rebounding at all in the first half. We weren't getting on the offensive glass. They were outrebounding us by two, so to be able to look at what we did on the offensive glass in the second half, I know we were competing hard and playing harder.

Q. Going back to Al for a second, how rare is it for a guy like that to play (indiscernible) and not turn the ball over?
COACH MILLER: I mean, you're not going to find a guy early in his career that's this steady. He's playing both spots. He's much more of an efficient player straight line, doesn't need to have the ball on his hands a ton to be effective. I think if you just went by plus-minus, and sometimes it's good for you sometimes it isn't, our team has played six games. And by far the biggest gap of a guy being on the floor in terms of positive is Al.

He's probably, when he's on the floor, even coming into yesterday's game our team I think it's plus 35, plus 35 when Al's on the floor. That's really rare for a freshman to have that type of impact. And one of the reasons is he doesn't turn the ball over.

He takes care of the ball. He makes the right read. He's an efficient scorer. He's not even shooting the ball as well as he can. I think if he can get his legs under him, I think being able to stretch the floor for three is going to help him. He's off to a really good start, he's very coachable. He has a great attitude.

Q. Games and practices, do you see things clicking for these guys -- (indiscernible) do you see them understanding more what you want from them?
COACH MILLER: I think so. We've had carry-over for a while where we started to get a little bit better. We played against a lot of zone defenses, so we're starting to get a little more comfortable. In the early part of year we went against a couple type of zones and how we have to play against it. So that's been a positive.

Defensively we're always trying to strive to take one step forward and not one back. That's probably our biggest disappointment is maybe coming off South Florida I really started to see things click. And then in these last two games I sort of see some bad breakdowns.

And part of the breakdowns is now when you have the breakdowns you don't play. You sort of figure out who is making those breakdowns, and if you can't improve you have play less.

That's what we kind of did in the second half tonight was to get guys in there you trusted were just going to play as hard as they could and do what you ask them to do and good things will happen. And being able to use our bench in the second half was a positive.

Q. Can you give us a take on Duke --
COACH MILLER: I haven't seen them play. Clearly whether they won or whatever they're ranked, I think they're as talented as a team in college basketball this season. They're as big and as skilled as a team as you're going to see. They have potentially two first team All-Americans on their team and (indiscernible) sort of what they're doing. But to be able to give you my thoughts on how they're playing or whatever I've not seen them enough. But understand we know what we're getting on Wednesday night.

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