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February 22, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

ARCHIE MILLER: We have -- it's an understatement to say big game, but the finale here, coming down a grueling stretch to finish at home against arguably one of the -- maybe the league champion, we'll see how it falls out, but should have an electric environment. It's senior night, a lot of guys have put a lot into their careers here, and we're trying to obviously dedicate ourselves right now, be the best that we can possibly be every day and give ourselves a chance to compete against the best team and one of the best teams in the country. It's a big opportunity.

Q. How do you approach senior day? Do you make sure all five guys get in the game?
ARCHIE MILLER: Senior day is like every other game. The way you honor the seniors is you try to win the game and give them an opportunity to play in front of the fans and give them one more opportunity in Assembly Hall that they don't forget. Senior days are always delicate. There's a lot of emotion that goes into those things, but at the end of the day, it's about the 40-minute game, and that's what we're going to try and do is prepare our team like we've prepared very, very hard here every game. It's like I told those guys the other day, the only thing you remember about your senior day is did you win or lose, and that's what we'll do. We'll prepare the same way we always have, and we'll see how the thing stacks up.

Q. Since you just played Ohio State not that long ago, can you draw a lot from that in preparation?
ARCHIE MILLER: Without question. We were physically dominated in the game. We were a step slow to every loose ball. We were very -- lack of physicality on our offensive side of the ball in terms of the way we screened, the way we cut. They were the more forceful team in that game.

We did some good things. I thought we were coming off a one-day turnaround. I think we played Purdue. And we didn't have a whole lot of time to sort of prepare for them. But they're a unique team. At the small forward, power forward and center position, you can make the case they arguably have one of the best players in the conference at those three spots, and they beat you up pretty good, and their guards have done a great job of just really, to be honest with you, playing the game simple, taking great shots, and making the simple, easy play. They have a very connected team on both ends of the floor. They're very underrated defensively. They're one of the best defenses in the country. They have great length. They're very tough, and they -- to be honest with you, they've been able to have a successful season because they have good parts.

In our first game, lack of physical toughness, lack of energy, there was a lot of things we didn't have in place that night to be able to give them a better game, and hopefully in our building, we have a little bit more pep in our step, so to speak.

Q. You've talked about a lot of the seniors individually through the season, but Rob, what's he meant for you, this being your first year? You've talked about his work ethic, his buy-in, those sorts of things. How important has he been for you?
ARCHIE MILLER: Probably can't put it into words, just how much he's given to our staff. It hasn't been just like one day or one week. It's been literally the first second we arrived on campus until today, he has been all in, and he's worked extremely hard not only individually on his own game, but he's really just done an amazing job of giving everything he has to our process. Regardless of how this season finishes up, he individually from a statistical standpoint, I don't know if guys will look at it, but what he's meant to the program in terms of giving us an opportunity to build, to compete, to be able to get better all season long -- you know, when you're Iron Man, your seniors can go a lot of different ways when there's change, especially when there's a lot of ups and downs in a season, and to me, he is as ready right now as he was at the start of the season when there was a lot of excitement. He'll go down as one of the guys -- hopefully as we build season upon season that you look back on and say he gave us a chance.

Q. With Justin's play coming off the bench each of the last three games, what's been clicking for him lately having double figures in scoring?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's been more aggressive around the basket. He's finished a lot tougher than he has in the past. I think you've seen him miss a lot of opportunities around the basket earlier in the season, whether it was some empty dunks or just some blocked shots around the basket. I think if you look at him now, he really attacking the rim hard. He's had some great finishes. He's on the offensive glass. He's doing some of the things that he needs to do to be successful, and he's using his athleticism, and he's a lot more forceful on his drives. I just think he's playing with a lot more confidence in and around the basket. And defensively not only against Iowa, not only against Iowa and Illinois, but also even in our recent game against Nebraska, I thought he took a step up defensively, really took on the challenge of some perimeter-oriented guys, driving the ball. I thought he did a good job, maybe his best -- one of his best overall games to be honest with you. It's good to see freshmen finishing strong. I think that's a big part of their development is at the end of the season showing that they got to a point where they feel good about themselves.

Q. How much has his basketball IQ come along?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's smart. He's a lot smarter. He's funny, if you watch our first Ohio State game, he was at his worst. You go back a month and you watch him, and you go, wow, Justin wasn't there that night or whatever, and you look five games later, six games later, and you're like, Justin is playing better. It's just the evolution of those young guys learning the game, learning the intensity of the game, and from a feel perspective, I think you see a guy that's a little bit more in sync with how we play as a team. He knows what's going on a lot more. These experiences are giving him an opportunity to bolster sort of his career and gives him enough information that he belongs, and also the smarter he gets with what we do and how we do it, the better he'll be.

Q. With Collin maybe just not having the production lately and the injuries mounting, how has he kept it in balance?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's positive. He's a leader. He's stayed with it. He's all about winning. I think he's probably -- deep down inside, he'd say to himself, I'm a shell of probably what I was at one point in my career, and the injuries certainly played a big role, not in his inconsistency but his inability to really get in rhythm. I wouldn't be surprised, though, with his attitude and how things go, I gave him a lot of credit in front of the team. I thought he helped us win the Iowa game. I thought the Iowa game maybe he didn't score a ton, but his assists, his defense, he helped us win that game in a very hard-fought game, so that was good.

Right now we're just trying to find the rhythm on the floor when a group is playing well, and if he gets his opportunities, he knows if he does the right things and plays well, he'll play. But make no mistake about it, he's unselfish. He's given us another guy that really has been about the right things all the time. Just unfortunately he has had a number of issues from the first day of the season to start until right now that are still lingering, whether it's his thumb right now or his knee continues to be sore. He's been a guys that just has not had that opportunity to really get in great rhythm, and as a player, when you're constantly in and out and you're constantly missing practices, you're constantly sort of a game-time decision, it just doesn't set up well for you.

But I'm glad he came back. He's been awesome to be around. He's been awesome for our staff to have a guy that's a little bit older, a little bit more mature help our young guys. So he's been good.

Q. With all those injuries that you talked about, especially in the front court, can you just talk about Freddie and maybe how far he has evolved since you got here to where he is now?
ARCHIE MILLER: Oh, he's come a long way. I think Freddie is a guy that's always had pride in himself as a player and wants more opportunities. With injuries, he's got his opportunities, and I think when we've sort of evolved here over the last I would say seven, eight games, when we've needed energy, when we've needed rebounding, when we've needed a guy to come in here and give that to us, he did it. Here of late, we've got to pick it back up for him here as he finishes I think the last couple games. He hasn't rebounded the ball as well as we've needed him to. But he's evolved. He's given us a guy on defense and offense that's helped our team, and without question, our survival and how we play, he's gotten better. He has. He's gotten better. He's helped us in a number of situations.

We've got to get him cranked back up a little bit on the glass here coming down the home stretch because we're struggling right now rebounding.

Q. You'll either be the sixth or seventh seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Do you have a preference -- I know if you're the sixth --
ARCHIE MILLER: Sixth. You don't want to finish seventh if you can finish sixth, so we're going to take the highest possible seed that they'll name us. Sixth is definitely better than seventh. But in terms of who you play, I think the sixth is a little more unique because you wait and see. I think you get a play-in game if I'm not mistaken, so you wait and see. If you're the seven, you go in there with three to four days probably with preparation.

Maybe it's a little better to play the seven just in terms of having your readiness for the first game, but just in terms of how it stacks up, if this team finished sixth, I would be happier than if we finished in the seventh.

Q. Before the Rutgers game, Ohio State had a couple losses against Penn State and Michigan. What did you see in those two games that they did well that you guys may be able to replicate?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, one, they were on the road against two teams that are playing very well right now. They caught Penn State on a tough night, in terms of what Penn State and how they've been playing, and Wesson goes out with an ankle injury early in the game, it changed their team a little bit. When you go on the road, especially in this league, and you're playing for a lot like a Penn State is or a Michigan is or Nebraska the other night, you're catching a team that is playing in a hostile environment that has a lot to prove.

So I thought the Penn State game was one of which was going to be difficult. And then rivalry game, go to Michigan, that's not easy, either. So they were just put in two tough environments, and they were in the Michigan game for the most part. I think Michigan made some plays down the home stretch. But if you watch them come back against Rutgers and how they played, they were in sync, played very hard, dominated the game, and for us, I think we're clearly going to get a good Ohio State. But there's a lot of things to like about them. There's a lot of things that they do well. They impose their will on both ends of the floor. You've got to be really willing to match the toughness aspect of things on both ends of the floor. It's not as if they're really -- there's not very many things you can pick on them with. They've got a lot of answers. That's why they're a good team.

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