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November 30, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

THE MODERATOR: Conference play starts this weekend. If you can talk about how the team is getting ready and how practice went yesterday for you guys.

COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, you know, it's that time of year that's a little unique in the Big Ten where you take a deep breath and you remove yourself from non-conference play, and you have to really, really focus in on and understand that regardless of what time of the year you play this game, it really means a lot.

You know, going to 20 games this year, you know, the one in December, although you're probably not as good as you're going to be in January and February, but this is a huge, huge game for us on Saturday, and Northwestern is very good, very well coached, have great size, very organized offensively, tough to guard, and defensively, they are very, very good. They are big. They can pack the paint and they are off to a great start.

For us, obviously returning home from a disappointing performance earlier in the week at Duke. Really had a great work out yesterday. Probably our best practice in a long, long time. Partly because I think everybody was there and engaged, and hopefully we have another one today; at one o'clock tomorrow, we've got to be ready to go.

Q. When you say everyone was at practice, is that including Race or Devonte'?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: No, guys available for practice. Jerome and Race are still out indefinitely with no timetable dealing with their two injuries, and everybody else was a full-go in participation and we had a good practice. I think the guys felt good about practice, as well. For us, we had to string another one together and kind of get back to who we are.

Q. When was the last time you had a full practice, full team? Have you had one since the start of the preseason?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: That's a good question. No. I would say there's always been at least one to two out since the beginning of November, late, late October, and pretty much every game since I think we've had upwards as many as five or four and as least amount as two.

So when I look at it, if we have Jerome and Race sort of on the shelf right now, that's a full practice for us. So that was yesterday. And maybe partly before we went to Duke. So we've had our full team together here for the last couple, but hopefully today will go well and we can continue with that.

Q. How does that affect chemistry when you're on the court and you haven't had full practice guys, mixing and matching rotations?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Any coach will tell you that one body down in practice changes the course of the plan. As many as a couple really changes the course of a plan. We haven't been a great in sync group, you know, really, since I would say our Marquette game. Going into Arkansas, we started to have some struggles with the practices.

And then we've kind of put a couple together here and there. Not that we're not working hard. It's just, you've got to play. You have to be able to play five-on-five. You need to be able to do some things consistently every day to get better. And you know, like I said, no excuses, but that's the hand we're kind of working with. But yesterday was a good practice. It was a really good work out for our guys. I think we got a lot done and hopefully we got a little better.

Q. Was Zach and specifically Devonte', was able to give you 20 minutes and Zach played 16 against Duke. Do you have an idea as far as whether their availability will be restricted going forward?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: I don't think their availability will be restricted going forward. It's not fair to those two guys to evaluate them, obviously, with their first game back in Cameron indoor. That's a first day back when you've taken three days off conditioning-wise and really haven't done anything with the ball.

It was good to get them out there and I think that's the first step, but there won't be any restrictions unless it's obviously something that arises. I think those guys are committed to going right now and full practice yesterday, so you know, they just got to get their rhythm back and their conditioning back.

Q. Seemed like against both Duke and Arkansas, they were able to take you out of what you wanted to do with pace. How do you avoid getting sped up against those type of teams in the future?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: That's a good question. We have to be better organized. As a coach I've got to do a better job of being a lot more sharp in terms of what we're trying to get done in the halfcourt, not so much as the full court.

But without question, the two teams on the road that gave us the most pressure really dictated the game for the most part; Arkansas to a lesser extent. Duke was in overdrive most of the game in terms of what they were trying to do with us and got us out of sync. Never really had an opportunity to even get our feet on ground.

So you know, it's a learning experience. It's November. I can remember a lot of teams that we've been with, even teams that I've played on, that you don't even remember the ACC Big Ten challenge game come February, it's so long ago. But hopefully these opportunities make us better.

We've played a pretty difficult schedule to date and it will get harder here in December, so we're going to need to be better. Most importantly, learning our team and understanding how we have to coach them better, as well.

Q. Have you had time that watch the film from the Duke game and is there something that stood out?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: It's hard. I just think in general, we were really, really, I wouldn't say soft, but we were really, really slow to loose balls, deflected passes, offensive rebounds that they get. It just seemed like we were on the ground and they were in the air.

Part of that is you're kind of taken back by the early start and getting hit in the face, and being able to respond to that was tough to deal with just in term of all the 50/50 plays in the game, that was just -- they were quicker to them and they counted, too. They scored on them. They made us pay. That was disappointing.

Offensively, you have to take it as the game goes; that you probably have never seen that or felt that type of pressure before in that environment. You have some guys like Rob and those guys going into their second road game and that's what they were dealing with.

A lot of it was just due to the fact that I think we were taken over by their overwhelming pressure on both ends of the floor. They applied so much pressure on us on both ends to be great on all levels and we just weren't good at any of them and that's why the result was what it was.

We can take the turnovers and we can take certain guys and start to really obviously try to clean those things up because right now we're turning the ball over too much. It's our biggest Achilles heel early in this season as we just have too many guys turning the ball over right now, so we have to get better at that.

Defensively, as long as we keep working at it and having great practice days and whatnot, I think we'll continue to get better defensively. You know, Duke is a difficult cover I think for anyone, but you know, there are some things that we can clearly start demanding and getting a little bit better at.

Northwestern is going to pose a lot of challenges on us, as well. They don't start or play a player really small than 6-4, and at time, they won't have a guy on the floor any smaller than 6-6. Again, they are going to present some challenges for us, as well.

Q. Going off that, it seemed like Duke switching was able to take away from some of the separation off the pick-and-rolls. Do you look at anything adjustment-wise moving forward with that?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: You know, we've got to be better at creating a little bit more action, just maybe more in the middle of the floor and doing some things where we have the floor a little bit more wide open so we can take on the switches a little bit better.

I think one of the things that was really evident with the switching was our guards were timid off the ball screen. When you recognize there is switching going on over the course of a game, you have to really start to recognize as a player who is coming off to be aggressive, and to take those big guys on sometimes. We didn't do a good job of that. So we'll continue to work on that.

Again, very few teams can apply that type of not only pressure but that type of, you know, quickness, as well. I mean, it was a tough, tough game for us to play in, and it will make us better down the road.

Q. What did you like about yesterday's practice? Against that 1-2-2 full court, what should you have done better on Tuesday night?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Yesterday's practice was good because I just thought we had a lot of guys really treating the practice as if it was a game. Coming off a tough loss, what you want is you want guys that want to get back in the gym; we had that.

We also had our full allotment of rotation, guys in practice, where we had the ability to play longer against one another with substitutions and whatnot and we were able to really put two teams on the floor that going against one another was very competitive, so I like that.

The extended pressure, especially on Tuesday, we could have done a much better job of being able to go from getting the ball across halfcourt and doing a better job of getting organized. You know, at times, it's feast or famine when you kind of get in that up-and-down game and the press is on, and the next thing you know, you have a lane, you've got to make a good decision; and instead of driving the ball and missing it or driving a ball and turning it over, sometimes it's just a little bit better to get it across, tuck it under and let's get organized a little bit.

I think that's the biggest thing with our team right now is having everybody in sync with a call or unit on the floor, what we're trying to do once we get it across; all five guys have got to be in sync. I think we worked as a staff very hard yesterday to really communicate some things to our players during practice on how, what, and why, and I think they will get better at it.

Q. We know about Vic Law and Pardon, those guys have been around for a while and Vic looks healthy. A couple of transfers, Ryan Taylor from Evansville and A.J. Turner in from Boston College. What do you see about what those guys added to Northwestern's game?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: They have added skill and size. A.J. obviously is a unique player. He's a ball handling point forward so to speak for them with good size. He's played in the ACC, so he has experience. He can score around the basket so he's a good shooter.

Ryan Taylor brings a very, very high level shooter and skill level to the game. And Chris does a great job with his offense and being able to get those guys in positions where they can get shots.

It's concerning. Ryan is a great three-point shooter as is Vic and those two guys, if they can get it going, can really present some problems, and they are also really two of their primary ball handers at that type of size, as well. So it's a unique team to play against with their spacing and how they are playing, really, out of a two-guard front to alleviate some of the pressure that without a true point guard, so to speak, you deal with. So they have really kind of negated that, and in the halfcourt, they do a good job.

Q. It was a tougher night for Romeo the other night, but how has he responded, watching film and in practice?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: He was good yesterday. He was very good in practice yesterday, engaged. Romeo is a learner.

Romeo is a guy that's coachable. It's not like he's going in and out of games and not paying attention to his own game or his own improvements and what he needs to work on. It was a tough game for everybody in that game on Tuesday night. I can honestly say from the head coach all the way to the players, there wasn't very many guys who were really impactful in the game.

Romeo competed in the game for the most part. It's a tough place to play. I thought he could have probably gotten the foul line even a few more times. He did draw eight fouls which is a good thing to see, but he was good in practice yesterday. He was back competing, playing, and I think with another good day today, he'll be ready.

Q. Kind of to talk about freshmen, you mentioned Rob earlier and it being his second road game in that kind of environment. What do you think he learned form that defense and what can he gain from that experience?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Can't be reserved with the ball. Can't be safe. There's times where you need to be safe with it, but Rob needs to be more aggressive with his speed. He needs more aggression with his pace with his game, because he's a sturdy guy. He can get by people.

And I thought just in the game in general, when you deal with that type of pressure, you deal with that type of switching, you can't all of a sudden kind of stop, pick it up, look around for somebody to help you out. You have to keep that thing alive and you have to make plays and you've got to be more aggressive to get more downhill versus some of that stuff.

I think just in listening to him and watching some film with him, he knows that, you know, he's got to be more aggressive with the ball in his hands when he's dealing with that type of environment and pressure, and I think that will play well as we get ready to go into the Big Ten. He's a guy that I think has shown he can really play.

I think he's also shown right now that he's having to learn how to play in different types of coverages and whatnot, and for a young guard, that's not easy to do. The reads and some of the things that are normally there aren't there; how do you play after the play is something where he's got to be a little bit more downhill-oriented. He's got to be a little bit more aggressive in terms of that and make people better and he's got to make the paint a priority at times with that; not overdo it, but he's got to be a guy that can make some things happen when things aren't going as well for our team, and you know, working with him on that here over the next month or so will be big.

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