home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


January 2, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Q. If you want to go ahead and talk about the reboot of the conference season and the challenges. Certainly two challenges this week, but just go over what that means in the next three months.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, well, the conference grind is officially here, and I think that our league did a tremendous job in the non-conference from top to bottom. We've positioned ourselves as a league to get as many as -- looks like upwards of eight, nine or even ten bids up for the tournament, with some of the resumes.

The league is as deep as any in the country, and I think you're going to see every night very, very highly contested games, whether it's home or away, and there's very, very little separation between any team. It's going to be very, very interesting to see the ups and the downs, who can handle success and obviously who can handle the adversity because there's going to be a lot of rough waters, so to speak.

For us, we start right away here, Thursday, with Illinois, and Illinois is such a tough team to play against because of their style. It's so unique. It's unlike anything you've ever seen. You can watch as many teams as you want play against them. They just really force your hand to make plays, handle the ball. They thrive on transition and turnovers, making threes. They have good guard play, and it's going to be a very difficult game for us on Thursday night, and clearly after that as we start to hit the road a few times here in January.

But we're taking it one day at a time, and our focus is today and then obviously Illinois, and then we'll take it from there.

Q. How are Rob and Zach? Are they good to go tomorrow?
ARCHIE MILLER: Zach has done -- post-Christmas has slowly but surely worked his way back into practice, which is good to see, and I anticipate him hopefully without a setback today, knock on wood, that he can be available. Rob is, I guess, two weeks from his injury in the game, and he has yet -- he's progressed and he's getting better, but he has yet to practice. I don't anticipate Rob being available, especially most likely this week, and then we'll see from beyond as he continues to sort of go through -- he is doing more activity and whatnot, but he hasn't been cleared to do anything basketball-wise in terms of engaging in practice.

We'll plan to move forward without him here for the foreseeable future, and we've got to have next man up, like we've been all year. It's been a difficult team to sort of be around every day because you're disappointed that you don't have the ability to really have all your troops together at the same time. Got to put that by you, obviously, and go with what you have, which is what we've done all year.

Q. Race, is he any closer, and maybe Jerome, too?
ARCHIE MILLER: Those guys are still in the same situation that they've been, just in terms of time. You know, no real determination on any time of return for either guy. We're hopeful that they'll continue to progress so we can continue to get them better, but as of right now, we don't plan on having those guys in the near future here. Hopefully Race can continue to improve. He has improved a lot, but it's been a very, very difficult injury.

Q. As much as it can be, I guess, the short-handed nature, just what you guys have had to deal with, has that become standard operating procedure for these guys, understanding how to make the most of their time without maybe a full complement of players?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, without question. I think as a player you tend to not worry about all those things. As a coach you worry about everything, but as a player, I think you see opportunity and you feel good that you're going to have a chance to contribute and be a part of this thing. I think that's pretty much what our guys have done. That's always how we have approached it, next man up, so to speak, and continue to work to get better and create an opportunity to change the path of your own individual season.

That's what these guys have done, and there's been a lot of different guys step up at different times, and I think that hopefully at some point in time, that can collectively be a good thing down the stretch.

Q. You kind of used the phrase "handling success." Just talking about the whole conference and who can do it kind of through the conference season, maybe sometimes we can be guilty of making too much out of one or two things, but are there lessons maybe from that November-December stretch that you want these guys to draw from in terms of being able to handle success, particularly just building that win streak after Duke and the way that they won some of those close games?
ARCHIE MILLER: Oh, without question. We talked about it yesterday. As you head into January here early, everything that we've done to get here so far has been very, very hard-earned, whether that's been tough, gritty wins, ugly play that's led to stellar, so to speak, defensive stops. We've had guys also step up and make timely baskets, and different people have stepped up at the end of the games. There's a lot of that good, blue-collar, so to speak, togetherness that has sort of been a part of what we've done.

Now, it can't ever go away, obviously, as you hit Big Ten play. But we have to remember how we've gotten here. And if anything slips through the cracks or we have any slippage on either side of the ball, we're not improving, we're not continuing to play hard, now those 50/50 games, they become a little bit harder to win, especially when you mix in the road.

For us, we can't ever lose the fact how we've gotten here, and we also can't lose the fact that there's still a lot of room to get better. A team in January can be a lot different in February, and that's sort of our hope, and we're going to play against the best of the best here, and we're going to be tested. We're going to know exactly what we need to be doing on a daily basis to be able to put ourselves in a situation to continue to have success.

Q. In terms of Rob's role, other than Devonte playing more minutes, do you overtly work on maybe Al or even maybe Romeo or other guys handling the ball up top a little bit more?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, without question. Devonte is obviously a guy that's used to it. Al will be in there, Romeo is going to get more opportunities now to handle the ball, and Damezi and Zach also, hopefully those two guys are going to see more action, just how the backcourt shapes up without Rob. Rob plays an important role on our team without question, but these other guys have also worked hard, and some of them have good experience here coming through the early part of the year, being able to be a part of what we're doing. We'll move forward.

The biggest thing is these guys defensively are really going to be taxed, as you start to play against the best of the best. You've got to be smart, and I think the other thing that's concerning, I think, is the foul trouble. We've got to be able to play hard without fouling, and Rob is a big part of our defense. Without -- obviously he's played on offense, as well, but he's a big, big part of our defensive depth on the perimeter, and not having him and Zach here in the last couple games and maybe game and a half, that puts a lot of pressure on those other guys, especially coming in and playing smart.

But we'll eventually -- knock on wood, eventually Rob will rejoin us, it's just a matter of when, and hopefully Zach can continue to stay strong.

Q. With Devonte getting the gold jersey, what's stood out about his performance in practice in terms of the way he earned it? And number two, how pleased are you to see that carrying over from kind of the confidence he built at the end of non-conference play?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's done a nice job in practice leading into our last three wins. I mean, he's been a big, big part of our practices in term of him reengaging and being a primary player, a lot of reps, and Devonte has done a good job. He's kind of practicing how he's playing. He's trying to make plays for others. Obviously he's a gifted guy that can score the ball in bunches at times, but he's got to pick and choose what's a good shot and a bad shot and what's a good decision and a bad decision.

You know, without -- defensively he's hanging in there, he knows our system, and he rebounds the ball for our guards. He does a lot of good things. But what he's doing in practice I think is translating to the game. Thursday is going to be a big one for him just in terms of how much he's going to have to handle the ball. It's a very difficult game for guards.

Q. If you were to make a case for Juwan Morgan maybe mid-season Player of the Year candidate in the Big Ten, what would be the key things you would point to that stand out to you that he's done the best?
ARCHIE MILLER: I would just say from top to bottom there isn't a statistical category that he doesn't contribute in, and I would go away from offense and I would start with defense in terms of how important he is in our system and what we do, defending the other players, either bigs or away from the basket, defensive rebounding, blocking shots, being sort of a captain on defense. And then moving into the offense, he's been a guy that's been unselfish, he's been able to score, he's been able to shoot, he's been able to pass, he's been able to do everything. He's pretty much been a do-everything guy for us on both ends of the floor. Without question, when the other team watches film I would think they look at him and say, that guy right there, he's a bear to deal with.

Q. You also mentioned at the end of the stretch there, you want to get Romeo more involved in some things. Going downhill I think was what you mentioned. How do you envision that playing out? What do you want to do with Romeo moving forward?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I just think teams off the ball are really trying to take him out of the game at times, and I think he's having his opportunities in transition, and with just the regular flow, we've got to do a better job of advancing the ball, and our team in general just has to continue to become a better passing team, sharing it. But without question, I think that he has to be able to be a primary ball handler in big stretches of games or tough stretches of games where he's the guy sort of working in the middle of the floor and the clock with Juwan, or just at the end of the day, he's starting actions for us, as well.

With Robert being out, we need more ball handling anyway, but just in finding different ways and being creative to get all of our players in the best positions, definitely putting him in more situations in pick-and-rolls and doing some things where he has the ability to read the defense.

Q. How important is it to keep your turnovers under control against a team like Illinois that's as good as any in the country at forcing them?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's the whole key to the game. It's not just us, it's everybody who plays them has to deal with it. There will be five to ten possession in the game where you look out there and you say, this doesn't even look like a basketball game, it's just a firestorm, so to speak. And then those plays where you've got to be capitalize with numbers, where you don't make the silly mistake over-dribbling and charging or just getting too sped up with numbers and not making the proper pass.

But Illinois thrives on defense, their steals. They drive on their transition game, and it's the whole key, so to speak, is being able to function offensively with being able to find a way to get some quality shots and being able to get some numbers. It's not an easy thing to do, especially if you haven't played them ever. You've got young guys in the game; it's the first time they've seen it.

But I've watched every one of their games from Maui all the way through, their Big Ten games to Missouri, and every game is the same. It's just a rock fight. You have to understand when you play the game, that's what it's going to feel like.

Q. I know you don't like to look too far ahead, but this is the only time we're going to talk to you before Michigan. What do you see in them? They're perceived as the frontrunner of the conference right now.
ARCHIE MILLER: I'll be honest with you, I haven't really studied them a lot. Obviously I follow our league, like probably every coach does, and they've had a fantastic non-conference. They're elite defensively, and offensively they're skilled and play with great spacing like they always do. But without question, they have a way about them right now, a confidence, a swagger that they can beat you with both sides of the ball. I think that's what really, really I admired about their team last year is they went on that great run, is just how they kind of just morphed into this tough-minded, really, really sticky defense that also has great spacing and great players on offense.

I think if you just look through their run a year ago and kind of look where we're at right now, they could be anywhere from 30 out of 31 to -- I don't even how many games that group, but it's good. I've always said as I watched them, Xavier Simpson is the MVP of that team. He's unbelievable on defense, and he's unbelievably efficient for them on offense in terms of how he attacks the basket and gets guys involved.

You know, clearly they've earned every bit of their accolades here from the start of the season to where they're at, and they're positioned clearly to have another great season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297