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February 27, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: If you would just talk a little bit about the team's trip to the Big Ten Tournament and then we'll open it up for some questions.

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, it's sort of a little bit odd to be going to the conference tournament. I think tonight and our league being tipped off on Wednesday and Thursday this week, sort of all those games that were crunched into one jam-packed conference schedule is going to put us on a national stage, being Madison Square Garden, and I think that will be a good thing for the league once the games start to get tipped. It should be a very competitive conference tournament, just looking at the league throughout the course of the season.

You know, our guys are excited to go. We had a great work out yesterday and anticipate having hopefully a good one again today, and you know, we really want to go there and be prepared to play as well as we can. You know, we want to advance. So we're excited to get to New York.

Q. So one of our wise colleagues last week wanted to know if you'd rather be sixth or seventh, but now that you are sixth and you really don't know who you play rebound does that make it hard?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, it doesn't. I think it really focuses you in on you. As a player or as a coach, when you get ready to have some time to prepare, sometimes the best preparation is just you going and playing, competing, working towards being a better player, being a better team and focusing on the things that over the course of the season that you hope you have to be able to do well at this time of year.

Part of that's energy. Part of that's health and freshness, and part of it is just feeling really confident about who you are and what you do. We've played Rutgers and Minnesota recently.

So it isn't as if, you know, we caught them in December way back early when. So we have a pretty good feel of playing their personnel and their team. Both teams will give us problems. The good thing is, I think with a late game, though, regardless of the circumstances, you have some time to prepare your guys. It's not as if they play and you weak up the next morning and you go 12:00; so we have some time to do it.

It's not really about the opponent any more at this time of year. So much of this time of the year is about you and how confident you are and how good you feel about what you're doing, and that's what we're trying to reach once we get to Thursday.

Q. I guess for as awkward as it might be having a Big Ten Tournament in New York City, playing at the Garden would make make up for being in a non-Big Ten environment. What's the Garden like, playing basketball there as a coach, a player and people call it the mecca. How do you describe playing games at the Garden?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, you really have to experience it for you No. 1, New York City at this time of year, when March is coming around, there's not a better place to be in terms of the buzz with the media.

The games at Madison Square Garden, it's a fantastic place to play. I can see why our commissioner and our league work so hard to be able to get in there. It's monumental to be able to play in Madison Square Garden and being able to play a week early where you don't have to flip the channel to see what's going on in any other league. It should put all eyes on us this weekend.

So I know there's some regular season finales coming up for some teams and whatnot, but we're going to have an opportunity for our league to showcase what is a tremendous league with great coaches and players, but it should be a lot of fun to be in Madison Square Garden.

Q. All the projections have this being a four-bid league into the NCAA Tournament this year. You talk about where you think the league is; does that surprise you when you hear that? Does it surprise you when you hear that Nebraska is a 13-win team, isn't locked into making the NCAA Tournament?
ARCHIE MILLER: Without question. You know, without question. But I think, you know, if you're in this long enough, you find out the full body of work and resumés coming into conference play. I don't think our league probably did as well as some other leagues in the non-conference, and that hurts you.

But once you start to get into conference play, as a coach, as you evaluate it, if Nebraska is not an NCAA Tournament team, winning 13 conference games out of 18 in this league, winning as many as they did down the back four, five weeks of the schedule, it's kind of hard to say they are not one of the best teams in the country that doesn't deserve to be in. I think they should be in.

I think that, you know, Penn State probably had a shot there for a while and they have maybe some little bit more work to do but there's clearly some teams that can make a run in the tournament and help our conference. But Michigan State and Purdue, they are on the one line, two line. Ohio State is right up there probably in the top four lines without question.

If you have those three teams in your league; you look at how Michigan is playing right now, Michigan may be playing as well as anybody in the league and I feel like they are going to be a tough out.

I mean, there's some teams in our league, to be quite honest with you, if you said, you know, in the Sweet 16, you would get the Big 10 put three or four in there, would you be surprised? No.

You know, it's a great league. It's got great coaches in. This day and age, I guess resumés from November on mean a lot. But it is a little surprising that when you're in our conference, not to have seven, eight teams being talked about as being in.

So hopefully some teams will step up this week, do a good job. And you know, hopefully we'll get as many teams as we can get in.

Q. Having the layoff since Friday and almost a week, I think it's the longest layoff you'll have had in a while. Are there guys in particular you've seen respond to have a little bit more time as you said to focus on yourselves?
ARCHIE MILLER: A couple days off, I think that was really big. We were beat up. I know every team in the league as we finished was going down some type of stretch. We were an exhausted group, not so much physically but mentally, as well. It was a hard grind to get through January and February.

So taking the weekend off and then watching us practice yesterday was kind of funny. We had a great balance. We had guys that were excited to be in the gym working again, just amazing sometimes when you have a couple days off just to reboot physically and mentally.

Today should be another opportunity to work and then we travel. So once we get to New York, you know, I think once we get to New York, we'll start to really focus on what we have to do to be ready on Thursday. Definitely some time needed.

Q. You talked about focusing on yourself. Where do you think this team is right now going into the next thing?
ARCHIE MILLER: We're in a good place. This team's been unique all year. There's been a lot of ups and downs. There's been some disappointments along the way. But there's always been constant improvement. There's never been a time where our team has taken a step back, you know, throughout the course of taking some punches along the way.

You know, to me, our team has improved as much as any in the conference over the last six weeks. You know, I think we're moving into this postseason hungry to play. I think these guys like playing with one another. I think they have enjoyed sort of the grind, and it doesn't feel like a team that's on a negative.

You know, so many times this year, you really have a dead team. You have a team that doesn't want to be around or you have a team that's excited to play. I feel our team is excited to play.

Q. Over the weekend, a couple of stories came out regarding the FBI investigation. One regarding your brother. Have you spoken to Sean since the story came out on ESPN?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I've spoken to Sean quite a bit. Our conversations are about our family, more than anything. What's going on in Arizona and what's going on in college basketball in general is something that really wasn't the topic of conversations for us.

I don't think that you grew up at our house with our family and consume yourself with what's going on in the basketball perspective, when something like this is going on. It's been hard on a lot of people. Move on the best you can. You know, for me, I've got a job to do here, and that's sort of where I'm at. That's how I sort of go about my business.

But when it comes to Sean, yeah, we'll communicate as much as we possibly can and it doesn't really revolve a whole lot around anything other than us.

Q. Is the investigation, the talk of it, is it mentioned among players in the locker room or anything, or is it more just the focus on the Big Ten Tournament right now?
ARCHIE MILLER: I wasn't in the locker room yesterday, so I'm not sure what they are talking about. I don't think our guys are caught up in it a whole lot. Definitely in watching us work yesterday and how we're communicating, there's purpose to what we're doing. So I'm happy about that.

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