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November 9, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Montana State - 35, Indiana - 80

ARCHIE MILLER: Good job out of the guys today. Thought we had a good approach, and you know, thought just in challenging, some guys coming off of the Chicago State game in terms of, you know, our readiness and the leadership and just having everybody engaged was there tonight, and it showed in some guys' play: Juwan was terrific, Justin was really good, and I thought Evan really helped and I thought our front line did a good job.

We have a lot of different types of players in the game in the backcourt, and each and every one of them I think had their moments. But we're just trying to become a very unselfish team. I think our guys are starting to understand that if the way we move the ball and the way that we play, we can be hard to defend, and from a defensive perspective, the numbers would say it was good.

I'm sure there's going to be a lot on film we'll get better at, but we're playing hard and we have to be ready to play the hardest we've ever played starting next week, and that will be a great test for us on Wednesday.

Q. Still got to look at the film but you were not necessarily happy with the defense. How did you grade out tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: We were better on the ball and had better activity level. We worked harder defensively to challenge them.

I didn't think, again, we were very good in transition at times, especially early, and there's some things that we've really got to get shored up in that because we're really going to be exposed here moving forward by the talent level and the speed of the game and the players; that you're not going to get away with that amount of mistakes and a lot of it has everything to do with positioning, spreading, being where you're supposed to be and we're going to try to keep getting better.

This team has to find a way to be a fantastic defensive team, irregardless of what you say on offense, this team has to find a way to make its defense charge its offense every game. You can see when the activity level is good and there is defense-to-offense, we can strike quick. That's something I think that we have to just continue to take a lot of pride in, in building our halfcourt defense.

Q. You mentioned Juwan needed to be more assertive in asking for the ball and he seemed to do that early on.
ARCHIE MILLER: It was a real emphasis coming out of Chicago State. Part of it is him wanting the ball, demanding the ball and us making sure that we understand, getting the ball to him, and he did his job tonight in terms of the want. He wanted it.

When he caught it, he was very, very focused and he had a good approach the last two days, and it was good to see him pretty much dominate the paint tonight.

Q. I think I asked about this before but it's like 53 points off turnovers in the first two games. You talked about preaching defense-to-offense, but what's making the group so good not just at turning the ball over, but so good out in the open floor off the turnovers?
ARCHIE MILLER: We weren't very good at it here early in the season. Our defense No. 1 has to be a quick, tenacious, half-court defense that flies around. We have to make people react to us in terms of our talent level. We're not the biggest of rim protectors and we don't have unbelievably veteran crew of guys that have been playing a long time but we have length. We have speed and we have a lot of it.

So if there's a consistency there and we're able to get out in transition, then it's the next step, how unselfish are you. Are you going to just absolutely run the floor extremely hard; are you going to hit the first open man; are you going to be willing to make the extra pass, and I think in the last two games, we've really gotten better at that, and that will be a key moving forward.

Q. Juwan mentioned how much difference the approach was and how the play was, start this year versus the start last year and he said the older guys made it a point of emphasis. Why do you think you were more ready out of the gate this year?
ARCHIE MILLER: We had some veteran guys that played a lot of minutes last year that understand how we grew over the course of the season, finished, and understand that you have to be ready every single night, and we have to be at a higher starting level this year with our older guys. They have to be able to lead the way.

Last year's team wasn't ready to start the season very well. Our staff, all the way down. We were a hodgepodge of something that wasn't very good, and they grew to be better. This group has a chance to be better early in the season, but we've got a long way to go.

Q. Going against their 2-3 matchup, how much of a luxury is it to have a 6-10 guy in Jagr to come to the free throw line and you can lob it to him and he can shoot from there and high-low it there?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, he's a fantastic high-low player. He catches the ball, he keeps had high, can throw it over the defense and has great touch in the paint as you can see, and he's gotten off to a really, really good start for us in terms of being able to play.

The changing defenses the last two games, we've seen a lot of zone, we've seen a lot of matchup, but obviously our biggest concern is going to be halfcourt offense against man-to-man coming up here pretty soon. We're going to have to find a way to execute and get good looks.

We're still not shooting the ball extremely well from the line and we're still not shooting the ball extremely well from the three, and we don't aspire to be that team that jacks threes at the end of the half.

You started to see just the shot selection really wasn't very good, so we are going to have to continue to take the good threes and get some guys with some confidence behind the line and at the line. We have to find a way to break through in those two things.

Q. Justin was effective tonight. What do you think is the biggest difference in the way he's played so far this year and where he was at this time last year?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, last year, I mean, he was a true freshman just trying to figure out how to play a college basketball game. I mean, he's got a wealth of experience after the year. He's had an off-season to continue to change physically, and he's a much tougher player on both ends of the floor.

But he's a much tougher player on offense right now. He's more confident in terms of his finishing and his ability to get to the basket, especially in transition. But defensively he's a lot better than he ever has been and so he's definitely an improved part of our team.

Q. Where would you say Jerome Hunter is at health-wise, and what's the most likely return for him at this point?
ARCHIE MILLER: Jerome is on a to-be-determined basis. He's going to be out probably for a significant stretch here as we continue to try and figure out and find ways to get his diagnosis done, find out what the correct way of handling it is, and then see where the next step is.

It's sort of a leg injury, but it's not a typical leg injury that is an injury caused by practicing or something. It's more of an underlying effect that's causing him some pain. When we get all the answers, he'll be evaluated and decided on. As of right now, though, Jerome will be out for a to-be-determined amount of time.

Q. With five minutes left in the first half, Justin took and missed a 3 real early in the shot clock, and I saw you talked to him a little bit and he responded two nice assists and a tip in --
ARCHIE MILLER: He was open but we ran a specific action to get it inside to see if we could get fouled. He knew he took an open shot, but my point would have been to him: Stick with it right now. Then he came right back and made a couple really good plays for us.

Q. You mentioned getting some guys confidence from shooting behind the arc. Was that a reason that Rob was in a little bit later? There was a couple occasions where he seemed not determined to take a shot but seemed like that was something on his mind to take a couple threes.
ARCHIE MILLER: Rob is a good shooter. He's going to take advantage of the quality ones when he's open. We have confidence in him. Some of the guys, like Al, has not practiced in a quite a bit off time or played a ton of minutes and has to get his feet under, same with Devonte. Devonte basically has only been back for a week and has to get his feet under him in games and will be better. Phinisee obviously is a good shooter. Zach can make an open one, and you know, we want all those guys to have great confidence when they are out there and especially a guy like Romeo, finding a way to stretch the floor for us.

But we don't aspire to take a ton of threes. I don't think that's this team's niche but I do think if we take the good ones, we'll make them.

Q. Going off what you mentioned about Devonte, you've had a chance to see him in two games. What do you evaluate what you've seen from him in the early part of the season?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's fine. He's doing a good job. He's a little rusty. He has to pick up his decision-making. We talked a lot about it before practice today and before the game with him. It really comes down with a defensive mindset for him and to be in concentration mode.

And two things from offense is being a facilitator first and score second. He's naturally a gifted scorer but he's also a very gifted passer. You can just tell when he's on his game, the ball is getting delivered at a high assist rate, low turnovers.

And the shots and the things that he can create offensively come second. You know, that's how he has to play. When he's in there he has to keep the pace up, and he has to continue to find ways to make guys better and let the rest kind of take care of itself.

Q. Zach didn't warm up coming out of the break. What was going on there?
ARCHIE MILLER: He came up with some back tightness. He's been dealing with that for a good three to four weeks. I don't think he felt very good early in part of the game, and from that point forward, we just decided to rest him.

Q. De'Ron, as he plays himself back into game shape is he where you thought he might be, getting the minutes he needs to get?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's okay. I'm not sure how many he got today. First half he only played three. We really tried to get him some minutes in the second half and end up playing like -- probably ended up playing more around eight to nine in the second half.

But De'Ron needs to start pushing his conditioning level in the games. That's what he has to start to work on right now. He's not ready defensively, more so than anything, to be able to guard a really good team, just because of the lack of reps and that. But he's going to have to work himself through it every day the best he can, and he has to work himself through it the best he can in the games, and hopefully as he progresses through non-conference and enters conference play, he's in much better shape.

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