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December 7, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Q. Coach, talk a little bit about Louisville and how practice has been since Penn State.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, well, great opportunity for our team to play another really good team Saturday. We've been in the midst of a pretty tough grind here with non-conference and then mixing in conference play, so the games have obviously been very intense, and we've had to find a way in a couple of them to make some plays to win.

Louisville is a really good team. Chris has done a good job taking over. You can really tell the identity over the last three, four games how they've improved with the competition level they've went at. They're playing very confident right now. They're a physical offensive team inside, does a great job with their pace and execution, and defensively you can tell they're getting better. They play hard, play a lot of guys, and to me, this is going to be a game -- and coming back in March that both teams will look at and say that was a heck of an opportunity for us to play a quality non-conference game.

For us, we're excited. We've worked hard in practice. We're trying to get better in a lot of different areas, as we normally do, and we have a pretty good balance about us right now.

Q. Since Chris coached with your brother at Xavier, when did you first get to know Chris and how would you describe his approach to coaching?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I've gotten to know Chris over the years. He was at Wake Forest with Skip Prosser while I was at NC State, and those guys do a tremendous job. Really respected him. And then as he got intertwined with my brother Sean at Xavier in their time there, they had unprecedented success. He had a lot to do with that, not only recruiting but coaching.

And then as he took over Xavier, we were in the Atlantic 10 together for a brief time and then they moved to the Big East. Chris has put his mark on -- his own mark on things. He has a very, very great offensive mind. Their execution, the way they get guys shots, the way that they play is very, very sharp, and defensively I think they've stayed with sort of that man-to-man pack line principles that we all sort of coached in, and clearly as he's inherited Louisville, he's trying to again put his stamp on it.

But he's a fantastic coach. He's done a great job everywhere he's been. I've got a lot of respect for him and got a lot of respect for their staff. They do a really good job.

Q. What's maybe different about Louisville's identity this year as compared to kind of previous coaching staffs?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think over obviously a 15-, 16-year period of time under Coach Pitino, the size and the pressing and the match-up zones and some of the things that they were known for will now change. Chris is bringing more of the man-to-man defensive principles to the table. And then offensively they're a lot different just in terms of the philosophy.

It's a more four-around-one look. Chris does a great job; he's probably as good as any coach in the country in terms of being able to get their bigs the ball for buckets, not just catches but actually throw it to them and you get baskets. It's a big concern for us coming into this game is defending the post and then obviously defending them in transition. They do a really good job.

And Jordan Nwora, he's kind of mimicked him off of some of the guys they've had on his previous teams where he can move him around a lot and run offense through him, and he's off to a great start. I like their team. They're hard-playing right now. They're very unselfish, and I think they're going to have a great season.

Q. When you see a big team like this, do you think, well, this might be a better game for you to use De'Ron Davis a little bit more? He had success last year against Louisville.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, De'Ron is a big part of what we're doing. He's getting better. He's getting in better shape. He's practicing more consistently right now. I think he feels better about himself. He's starting to get through some of the hard body aches and whatnot. Foul trouble limited him a little bit this past Tuesday at Penn State. He got himself a couple quick ones and never really got into the flow of the game.

But we're going to need De'Ron. I talked to him yesterday; we're going to really need his presence on both ends of the floor. We're going to need his size on both ends of the floor. De'Ron continues to be an important cog as we continue to develop.

Q. Defensively with you guys, I think you've held all but one opponent under a point per possession. Where are you maybe a month into the season defensively? Are you on the track you maybe want to see you guys a month in? What is the next step defensively for yourselves?
ARCHIE MILLER: Just getting cleaner with our system, making less mistakes off the ball, continuing to get our young guys more experience against different types of offenses which they haven't seen before. As we continue to evolve, getting cleaner with our rules and principles where we don't have to explain everything or scout everything that we do. It's kind of a habit.

So we're not that sophisticated yet I don't think as a group, as a unit with our system, which takes time. You need more time to keep going. Our base stuff is better than it's been a year ago at this time. If you look at our numbers a year ago at this time through about the same amount of games, it's a drastic difference just in terms of the ability to defend for longer stretches, be more organized in the half court, half positioning more oriented. We're better there. We still have a long way to go, though.

I think as teams develop offensively, they develop defensively, too. We have to continue to grow. We have to continue to be better on the ball. At times we're not as good as we need to be on the ball. A lot of that's due to just sometimes there's young guys on the floor or sometimes there's guys coming in off injury that aren't just like -- a guy like Zach right now doesn't have quite his feet under him like you've seen him in the past, so he's working back to get his game repetitions back, as well. But we're able to play more guys, I think. We're able to have a little deeper team where we can play harder for stretches.

So not that you're ever satisfied or you're pleased with anything. I think we can always have room to grow. But from a defensive standpoint, I think as of right now, we're doing okay. We have to become a better rebounding team. We have to do it more by committee. Right now we're not blocking out as well as we need to. That's a big thing. We're fouling a little bit unnecessarily off the ball with reaching and slapping. That's something that can get cleaned up, but just in general, I think we're ahead of where we were a year ago if you ask me.

Q. Seems like Al has been one of your most consistent players to this point in the season. Just how valuable have his contributions been to this point?
ARCHIE MILLER: Al has been good. He's been good, working hard on both ends of the floor. He gives us an added weapon, three-point shooter. He's shooting the ball really well. He's an attacking guy off the bounce, can make plays. Need him to be on the floor more defensively where he's not getting beat or reaching or fouling. He had a couple unnecessary ones, I think, last weekend against Northwestern that limited his minutes. But he's a big piece. He can play both guard spots for us, he can defend both guard spots for us. He knows what he's doing. He's our best communicator. He's one of our loudest talkers. He's a very valuable part to what we're doing.

Q. Actually wanted to ask more about Al, as well. Where have you seen him evolve from a year ago? He obviously wanted to change a lot about his game, improve a lot about his game. What's better now than you saw?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's a stronger player physically. He's not as light. He's heavier than he was a year ago. I think that helps him. He's a more confident shooter than he was a year ago. I think he feels really good about his confidence level offensively. Scoring the ball on all three levels, he can do that for us. He's a guy that can make plays for us, so I think he's more confident, and he understands what we're looking for. I hate to say he's a veteran, he's only a sophomore, but he's a veteran guy for us. He's a second-year player under our group, and like I said before, he talks, he communicates. He's about the right things every day, practices really hard every day.

You know, I think he's being as consistent as he can be, and he's going to have a big role on this team, and he's got to continue to just kind of evolve and work at it, but he's doing really good for us right now.

Q. You talked about Al being maybe more confident, but mechanically is there anything different to his shot because it seemed like in high school he had hard-to-repeat form a little bit. I don't know if it was getting up underneath the ball or just leaning -- did he change anything?
ARCHIE MILLER: I don't think he changed anything. He's got obviously a year under his belt. He's had an off-season in our program where we take a lot of shots in the off-season and summer, and he's got a lot of repetitions under his belt. And he's a good shooter. He was a good shooter coming in who as a freshman went through normal freshman up and downs and had a streak there where he wasn't shooting the ball real well.

But he's much improved in shooting. I think it's a repetition thing with him. He's stronger again. But I think he has confidence in himself. He's worked really hard on his game. He loves the game, so he's a self-made kind of guy. He works at it hard, and like I said, we're kind of pleased where he's at with us right now, and hopefully he has some more big moments.

Q. For yourself this is kind of the second year of going through this segment where you've got a couple conference games, non-conference, then back to conference. Anything from your perspective that you've learned from last year to apply to this year?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I mean, really starts with the ACC-Big Ten challenge. For us it's been Duke back-to-back years and then you jump right into conference, and I think when you jump into conference play, I think as you've seen every Big Ten team in general played too, you watch the games, they are really highly contested, seriously fought games that I think both teams now that they've gotten through that awkwardness like why are we playing an early-season Big Ten game, I think this year every squad kind of knew coming out of the challenge, like this is a serious week of opportunities for the league. It's a serious week for every team, and I thought our guys really approached the games very serious. It felt like a February week.

Now you come back out of it, and whether it's good or bad, you're looking at Louisville straight down the barrel. There's not a whole lot of letup. We always know at the end of November through December for most of our season in particular, all of the Big Ten teams, it's about a five-game gauntlet where every team in our league is going through a serious stretch of games that mean a lot, and for us Louisville is a very important game because it's the next one up. It's at home, and it's a great marquee non-conference game for both programs, but for us, it doesn't approach. I think the intensity level of last week will prepare us to play at the intensity level that it's going to be need to played at, which, like I told our guys, this game is going to require a lot more than we've been doing. It's going to require a lot more physicality. It's going to require a lot more attention to detail, a lot less mistakes, cleaning some things up, because this is -- in my opinion just in watching them, this may be one of the best teams we've played.

Q. It seems like you put a lot of trust in Rob early in his career here. What has he done to earn that trust from you, and what does he need to do to continue to evolve and play with the ball in his hands even more?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, Rob has done a good job. He's a freshman that's playing a lot of minutes. He's going through high-intensity games. It's not like he's getting cupcakes out there every day. He's going against seniors, he's going against good systems, he's going against really good players, and he's taking advantage of the opportunities. Some early-season injuries have thrust him into a big role. I don't think he's done anything to sort of pull back off of that. He was tremendous at Penn State in that last eight minutes. We really need step up make some plays, and he did with that last seven points or whatever he got for our team. He was terrific at the end.

Just trying to get Rob to be a lot more aggressive. Don't play it as safe. I think sometimes when you play it a little bit safe, the ball sticks a little bit, and I think we're trying to get Rob in particular to move the ball, make guys better when he attacks the paint. Obviously that's his best ability is north-south, and he's a really good shooter that, to be honest with you, hasn't gotten a lot of clean looks here of late. I'm hoping that he can continue to be a guy from behind the three-point line that we count on because he's a good shooter, as well.

But Rob has done a nice job. Through nine games in his college career against the schedule that we've played and the minutes that he's handled, he's done a good job on both ends of the floor for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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