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December 7, 2017

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH MILLER: Obviously another road opportunity for our team, we haven't done a good job on our last two road performances. It's going to take a very concentrated effort to go into a very tough place to play against a very good team and be better. It's the first time in a long time that we have had some space in between game to game where were can get in and practice and focus on cleaning things up and improving on some things.

I thought yesterday was a step in the right direction and we will come back today with the same mentality. Having some practice time is refreshing for the staff because it seemed like we were really game upon game, stacked up with travel and preparing our guys to play in games rather than continuing to work on the little things that you have to work on every single day to be sharp.

It's an important week for us. We will try to improve and get ready to go on Saturday afternoon.

Q. Archie, how do you prepare for Louisville's length?
COACH MILLER: They are a very big team. Maybe one of college basketball's biggest teams. That's how they were constructed. They play a certain style defensively, whether it is their matchup or their man or their zones that they take advantage of the length. That's why over the last how many years, you can put Louisville at the top in defensive efficiency, and one of the hardest teams to score on.

But it also creates some problems for you on the other end as well. Where their size is overwhelming, they are always big inside, the perimeter guys with Adell and King just being so big and being able to shoot over top of you or drive it to the basket and overpower you. That is a concern as well. It's not going to change who we are or who they are, so we just have to go play.

Q. Given the extra practice time this week, what are some things you are trying to improve on?
COACH MILLER: ... The one thing is obviously to be better in half-court defense, and it starts in transition. We have been working on that daily, getting back is always a challenge.

In the half court, how can we become more disciplined. How can we become more aware of positioning and some of the things that I think are really hurting our team, in terms of giving up 3-point shots. It's not just that teams are getting wide open looks, it's why are they getting them? And part of it being a better half-court defensive team, a principled team, a disciplined team and that's something that, as we have played the games, we have tried to harp on in film and show. Now you are starting to get back to some practices that look more like October practices when you talk about the base stuff and getting good at it.

I would say just becoming a better half-court defensive team, a better defensive rebounding team, more of an emphasis being able to rebound the ball every day in practice. And from an offensive perspective, continuing to work on moving the ball, continuing to execute and clean some things up. But it's sort of a blue-collar week for us. We're really trying to use the practices that way.

Q. How do you teach discipline on the defensive end? Is that something that has to come with reps -- you mentioned film?
COACH MILLER: I think it's a combination of repetition. As much as people want to say players improve offensively, they improve defensively the same rate; you just don't get the same statistics, you know what I mean? But players grow defensively with repetition in practice and drill work and being able to compete in one-on-one or two-on-two or three-on-three drills where they're exposed.

You put them on islands and they have to compete and play and play without fouling, things like that. So you get better on defense with repetition. I think you see yourself on film is also a good thing. I think there's some things from the Iowa game that we were much better than some of the previous games, so we took a step in the right direction, I think, coming off the Michigan loss. So it's a combination of things.

Q. I think Zach McRoberts has played more minutes in the last two games than the rest of the year combined. What gave you the confidence to go with him?
COACH MILLER: He stays with it pretty much every day. He brings his hard hat to practice. Just in studying our practice films, studying our practice statistics, Zach has climbed the ladder. And he's earned the minutes in the game and probably should have earned them a few games earlier, to be quite honest with you. That's on us as a staff.

And trust Zach right now. Plays extremely hard. He gives us a bigger body on the perimeter at times. And he gives you another guy that makes hustle plays, winning plays, whether it's on the floor, whether it's an offensive rebound, whether it's just -- something positive is going to happen in his time out there.

And as the season has evolved he's put himself in a situation where he's earned the minutes. And he'll continue to earn more minutes as well, I think, because his effort level, his understanding of some of the things we're trying to do is winning basketball.

Q. You've had a few games now to kind of see what Al being the starting lineup, what that gives you and obviously having Devonte come off the bench. What are your early impressions of that might have been, what have you gotten out of it and what maybe you want to still want to see out of it?
COACH MILLER: I don't know whether starting the game has made a big difference for either player or any of the other players. I just think that Al had earned the right over the course of the practices in the early games to get that opportunity to get the start.

Devonte played very well against Iowa and he had one of his best practices in probably over a month yesterday. So having Devonte play really meaningful minutes is important to us, but having him play well is important to us.

But I like where Al's at as well. I think -- Al's a freshman. He'll go through ups and downs but I think he's gaining a lot of experience right now. And again I think he's earned our trust.

So the lineup could change, I guess, again. I'm not sure about it. We're looking for answers at all times. I think some of the combinations in the games that you see play longer stretches have solely to do with how the game is currently going. But I like how Devonte hasn't lost a step. Like I said before, I thought he really played well against Iowa.

Q. Bigger picture question, but I don't think we've asked you about scheduling philosophy in a while, but these two weekends, they're always big weekends because there's dead week and finals, and everybody's trying to get through the end of the semester. Do you kind of envision long term games like Louisville, Notre Dame being kind of staples of weekends like this, because I know it's hard because you're working with other programs?
COACH MILLER: Your ears must have been buzzing because we were talking about non-conference scheduling on our way down the hall just a few minutes ago. Clearly the non-conference schedule being built properly for your team in a given year is the most important thing. Who your team is that year, whether you're young, rebuilding or very experienced or you're really good, that schedule in the non-conference has to put you in a situation that you enter conference play, one, really battle tested, two, you did enough to put yourself in a situation where the NCAA Tournament selection committee is looking at you and saying you did exactly what we're asking you guys to do. You played people. You played good teams. You played on the road. And it constructs your resumé, so to speak.

But I think our non-conference schedule moving in the future, especially with the Big Ten going to 20, we have to really evaluate our model. And I think, like you said, a weekend game at Louisville, yes that will always be a part of it, whether it's Notre Dame. But the spacing of the games and having important home and away opponents every year very, very important to what we're doing.

And I just think as we keep evaluating how this is going to go through the 20 and looking at the Big East, the Gavitt, Indianapolis, some of our previously scheduled contracts that we're down the road, knowing whether you're in a Maui or one of those things, I think you have to be very, very strategic in who you put on the non-conference.

But clearly the best opponent is the one that makes the most sense. There's fan appeal as well. Being in the venues and with the teams that you want to compete against on a national level are very important.

Q. Your turnovers have gotten better with the exception of a couple of (indiscernible).
COACH MILLER: Come on now, you guys keep up bringing up the turnovers and we're going on the road to play Louisville. But our turnovers are something we're constantly evaluating the discipline and the decision-making, especially when it comes to first half.

First half of games is when they're away from you. In many ways you're in transition, a lot off the stops. You don't have their attention. So turnovers in the first half are something that a little bit of -- that's always a concern for us.

I think we had seven maybe against Iowa or maybe eight, I'm not sure, but only had a couple in the second half which was good to see. But we want to be a team that's playing in a low turnover percentage. I think it's important going on the road against Louisville to be another really important thing.

And I think part of it is guys going into the game not thinking about anything other than the simple play.

I thought we did a really good job against Iowa of getting the ball advanced. It wasn't any messing around, overdribbling, hammering the ball up the floor, letting the defense recover. I thought Collin, I thought Josh, I thought when guys had the ability to advance it up the floor that really got our offense moving faster and was good.

But we're trying to keep our turnovers down. I think it's something that we're really mindful of.

Q. I know you released a statement last week on Curtis Jones decision to transfer at the end of the semester. Wonder if you had any further comment and whether there will be any restrictions on where he can go?
COACH MILLER: No restrictions at all. Wish Curtis the best. As a personal decision based on him and his comfortability of moving forward. I mean, really other than stating what we said, we do wish him well. But don't ever really want anybody to leave at the break.

It's never a positive thing. But I think Curtis, being here for over a year and a half, he made his own decision. And we support him with that and wherever he ends up, I think he'll be successful.

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