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November 14, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Marquette - 73, Indiana - 96

ARCHIE MILLER: Really proud of our team. Stepped up in a big-time game on a great stage with an unbelievable crowd, and guys stepped up when their number was called, and we had a lot of different guys do great things. But I was just really proud of the approach, the intensity level to start the game. Then moving through the game, continuing to play through different lineups with foul trouble.

But just in general, it was a tough-minded, it was a confident team tonight, and it has a lot to do with our leadership, and it also has a lot to do with the maturity of our young guys being physically sort of ready to play in college.

Q. You started three guards Tonight. Even with Devonte being unavailable and whatnot. Talk about what those three guys did to shoulder that much of a load on both ends of the floor tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's really difficult to explain. You're starting two freshmen and a sophomore, and you're bringing a fourth player in who is a freshman. To say the least, I couldn't be prouder of them. Not that they're perfect, but guys are ready to go, and that's an encouraging sign. If we can ever get a little bit healthy, we don't have to play them as many minutes.

But, hey, I was a college player, man. If you let me play 36 minutes, I was good, don't take me out. But we have fatigue issues, I think, especially with the concentration breaking down at about the 8-minute mark. We've got to be able to play through that. Really, really proud of them. Al Durham, and Rob Phinisee, 13 assists and one turnover, that's a back court. That's a good night for them, man.

Q. Especially early in the game you were able to get Howard to turn the ball over a couple time on your ball screen coverages by bringing a couple guys off him on the ball screens. How important were those, and how good was the execution on what you guys did defensively?
ARCHIE MILLER: They're very difficult to guard, and he is very difficult to guard. But I thought our guys figured out if we're going to get better on defense, part of it is the pressure. Part of it is the ability to pressure the ball, keep the ball in front. Then we're a help-oriented team. You've got to be able to help.

He's able to come off a ball screen and shoot it, you didn't do your job because he's the guy that can beat you, so we tried to rely on that. But it's tough, when they put the Hausers out there who can really shoot it and space it, you have to define how you want to do, that. And I thought our execution was pretty good. You're never going to be perfect on the run, but I thought for the most part we had some time to prepare, which was nice. But just in general in watching our guys, I thought they did a nice job for most of the evening.

Q. It looked like Fitzner continues to be that piece you really didn't have last year?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, he's a terrific offensive player. He's got to continue to work a little bit more on the defensive side of the ball just in terms of his physicalness around the basket. He's got to get better at that. Without question he fits our style. I knew it from day one. He's a confident guy. He's not questioning what's going on. He's playing with great confidence. So you're able to come off the bench and get 16 and 17 minutes, and really break the game open a couple times for us. It was good to see.

Q. I know there are still things that need to be corrected. But when you're going through some of the hiccups last season defensively, was it a performance like this that maybe you had in your mind especially against a team like that that can shoot the ball in space the way they do, in terms of saying this is what we want to be defensively?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I mean, without question. I mean, they have an identity. I think if you watched us play on film and you just kind of know what's going on, you say to those guys, yeah, they're giving great effort. When you add in the mix that there are new guys in there, the older guys have really been able to hold down the rules and the talk and the communication. I think that's the vital part of growing as a program.

Your returners are getting better, and understanding your culture, the intensity level that you need. It's easier for a young guy to see what it looks like when it's done right. But, you know, all in all, we've got a long way to go. We've got some deficiencies and we've got to keep working. But in this building, when you give that type of intensity level, you give that type of effort, you're rewarded with a great environment to play into.

Q. Robert Phinisee in his third college game going against Marcus Howard, what did you think of Phinisee's defense?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's a stud. I mean, he's a stud. There's not much to say. I mean, 26 minutes, 12 points, 8 assists, 1 turnover, and he guarded arguably maybe the Player of the Year in the Big East for most of the game and held his own.

Not that he's perfect, but I haven't been around a young guard in a long time that has that type of quiet calmness, that's tough, that's smart. Once he gets more experience under his belt, you know, obviously he has a very bright future. He's a terrific teammate. I mean, he's everything that we knew when we recruited him. It's just hard to imagine the sturdiness in his ability to be that strong and tough early in his career. Some guys are gifted. In some ways he's gift in a way that every young player would love to have. Unbelievable feet, balance, strength, conditioning, and he's smart.

Q. Romeo took it upon himself, it being looked like, to get downhill and even in half court to turn that into transition it seemed like?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, he had some fantastic drives and finishes. I think you can see his explosiveness and the amount of ground he can cover. When he is driving and he's jumping, that's not a little guy jumping into you. He's going over the top of you and his length is startling sometimes around the basket in what he does.

But he's ready to play. Lights were on, did a great job defensively for the most part. He rebounded. You know, there's not a whole lot to say about him. He played really well.

Q. You mentioned guys stepping into bigger roles tonight. Obviously with the injuries, Al was a guy who stepped into the starting lineup, what did you think of his performance overall?
ARCHIE MILLER: I thought it was one of the best games he's played, he was aggressive on offense, made great decisions on the drives to pass. Obviously has to play a lot of minutes right now, so we were fortunate he was able to hang in there. Getting him back in general is important for our team, because I think he's experienced and knows what's going on. He played a really, really good game.

Q. Last year the defense came around. The perimeter defense is probably one of the last things to get there. Tonight you hold a very good shooting team to 5 of 23 from deep, 21%.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I thought just in general we did a pretty good job of challenging. Didn't give them as many easy ones. They didn't get easy ones, but they didn't get the ones that typically you can shoot in a horse game. I thought we made them earn some. They missed some, and that's part of going on the road a little bit.

But part of being a really good defensive team in defending the three is getting back, and not letting easy ones happen or in the half court not being too spread out where you run around. We're a much more disciplined team I think here in year two than we were in year one, and just in terms of our positioning and our help. That's a key to defending the line. You're not always in rotation.

So, you know, we'll give up 20 threes on Sunday, I'm sure, but it's just how it works. But for the most part tonight, I thought especially early, the first ten minutes they were really dialed in defensively. There were a lot of really good plays that led to offense.

Q. A lot talked about the defense, but offensively you started out strong and led 19 to 4 at one point. I guess what was working as a team?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think we were in transition quite a bit, and we were very unselfish. I think we had numbers, we shared the ball. We got guys open, and there were some seams. I do think when we're on the run we're harder to deal with because we have guys that can put the ball on the floor. Early on in the game just in general it was a fast-paced defense to offense.

We had our moments where we were stagnant. We did not do a very good job of feeding the post tonight. That's something I thought Marquette did a really good job of, not allowing us to get it in. When we did get it in, I thought good things happened.

Just in general offensively, if we're going to become a really good team, we have to be able to play from the paint out, not out and in.

Q. 63.6% is the highest in the first two years in Coach Miller's tenure tonight.
ARCHIE MILLER: Oh, wow. That's a good night.

Q. Is there any update you can give us on the four guys that depth play, especially Jerome, Hunter and Race?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, I'm not sure. I don't have an update on Jerome. We'll probably have more of a clear picture tonight as I talk to the docs, and we'll have sort of -- he's going to be out indefinitely right now until we can get an exact, like I said, an exact range on what he's dealing with. He has been being evaluated by doctors here the last few days. But the other three guys are out indefinitely. I don't see them playing here in the near future.

I see maybe the month of November being a very risky month for us just in general, but we have to do our part. We just have to be ready and we have to be as smart as we can with the guys that are available. But right now we're planning on moving through the rest of November, practically, maybe without all four.

Q. You talked about ball movement earlier. I know it's a small sample size, but even including this other Indiana game, it feels like a patient team offensively. Where does that come from that these guys are not willing to just share the ball, but go deep into the shot clock before they take the shot?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's a big emphasis for this team to, yeah, share the ball, but we know we have to get the ball moving and the players moving, and then we can take advantage of the different skillsets. I think we're a team that can put the ball on the floor.

But if you put the ball on the floor and you're running over people all the time, that's not good. But when you're delivering kickout passes and one mores and you're sharing it, that's typically a good thing.

We've really tried to emphasize with this team the pace we want to play at and the movement in the passing. We want to be a high assist team. We want to be a team that gets to the line, and we want to be a team that obviously touches the paint with the ball. We have a lot of different guys. If we ever do get, you know, a significant number of guys back, then we become even deeper and we'll be able to get even a little bit better defensively, because I think you have two experienced guards in Zach and Devonte who aren't in there right now that know what they're doing.

Q. You have five players who cracked double digits tonight. How much easier does that make your job as a coach?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think you have some guys in rhythm right now. You have some guys that know they're going to play a lot of minutes, especially our back court. So between Romeo, Rob and Al, they know they're out there. That's a great feeling as a player, if you play with confidence. Fitzner's another guy as an offensive player, and I think Juwan and Justin, those guys are battling like crazy.

Even getting De'Ron back here a little bit tonight, you got a chance to see him play more minutes, was a good thing for him. But Juwan, the way he passed the ball and the way he defended. His foul trouble really eliminated a lot of what he was getting ready to do in the game, but I thought he was very good as well.

Q. What's it say about your team from a mental toughness standpoint that you can dominate a team like Marquette without being full strength?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I mean, you never talk about your weaknesses, every negative, everything that ever can creep into your mind about this couldn't go well, you have to flip that on them every single chance you get. When guys aren't available, that's more minutes for the guys that are there, and that's an unbelievable opportunity to get chemistry. It's an unbelievable opportunity to gain confidence.

So I look at guys being out, you get sick to your stomach for the players. You get sick to your stomach for the staff because you know you want to practice and do all the right things. But at the end of the day, the one silver lining is, you start to get rhythm, you get confidence, you get players in there. So it's a positive too. It's a positive for the guys that are available.

Obviously it's frustrating, but it's something I thought tonight no one blinked.

Q. Piggybacking off what you said about Rob now earlier, but second week of November, did you ever feel in any world that you would feel this good about your point guard situation and back court this early in the season?
ARCHIE MILLER: I knew when we scrimmaged Loyola-Chicago that we had a chance to have really good point guard play. To be able to play against Loyola-Chicago in a scrimmage and see your guys go up against another college team for the first time kind of took a step back and said I could see something working here.

As we've moved through it, we've been really solid at that guard spot. And if you get Devonte back, you have another guy that can obviously play, so we feel good about that when we're healthy.

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