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February 1, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, coming off of a disappointing game on Wednesday. I guess it was Wednesday against Rutgers. Evaluating where we're at right now and what we're doing, and we're trying to correct some things, but at the same time trying to reestablish that, number one, there's a lot of season left, and number two, we've got to get better in a couple areas that we can control pretty quick. Heading to Michigan State, it's going to be an amazing environment, and it's the one you want to be in, and for us we've got to try like crazy to be better in certain areas. We're obviously at the halfway point of league play, so as we start up in February and you reset your batteries for the stretch run, our goal is obviously still in front of us and what we want to do. We've got to take it one day at a time.

We look at this back 10 as sort of a restart in terms of where we're at. It's a short season, a 10-game season, and it starts one game at a time, and Michigan State is up next, and we've got to be good. We've got to try to be better than we've been.

Q. Talking about what you can control, how much do you preach to these guys to maybe narrow their focus on what they can control and not get caught up and maybe overwhelmed in just trying to fix everything when you're this deep into a season with injuries and things like that?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, we talked about it. We've got to hang our hat on a couple things and focus in on those, things we can control. Defensively we've got to ratchet it back up. We've got to be a better defensive team. That's step one.

Number two, poise. We have to have more poise. We have shown the ability to sort of play well at times and then all of a sudden it goes away very fast, and we can't stop the flood, so to speak. And that comes down to poise and patience and don't panic on either end of the floor. Just stick with it, stay with it, and be a little smarter.

I think we have to do a better job offensively right now in continuing to try to tweak and fix ourselves that we can become more efficient and get more ball movement. The ball sticks way too much at times, and that's been a big problem for us. You've just got to hang your hat on the little things, like I said. There's got to be certain things that you're taking great pride in right now, and I think, like you said, just really narrowing the focus. It's not a lot of things, it's a couple things, and we've got to do those things well.

Q. At the board of trustees meeting today, Fred said that this is a serious rebuild with IU basketball right now. When did this become a rebuild and in your eyes when did it become apparent that things needed to be rebuilt?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, when you take over a program, you have to start with where you're at. There's got to be hopefully progress along the way each month, whenever it is along the way, whether that's your development, whether that's your recruiting, and at the end of the day, I think this team has going to be a team that needed a lot of parts and it needed a lot of chemistry this year and our depth was going to be something that we sort of hung our hat on.

This team played really hard early in the season, and like it or not, our depth has been challenged in a lot of different ways. In the Big Ten you're going to need a lot of bodies. You're going to need some experience to go along with it, and we're in a stretch in the first month of the Big Ten play in terms of January where our depth and our chemistry and our team changed, okay.

And that's not to say that we can't recreate ourselves here and start to do some things better, but when you take over a program, you've got to look at the big picture, and the big picture is classes upon classes upon classes and development upon development, and I think we're 18 months in and we've had one recruiting class.

Obviously the depth of our older guys mixing in with that youth was a big key component, and we really haven't had the ability to put that together in terms of the role definition and whatnot. And I think hopefully here in February, you start to get a couple guys back and you can maybe recreate sort of your lineup and some things that you're trying to do, and I think that will help us, but when you take over a place, it has to start somewhere, and it's got to evolve, and we're just in that process of evolving, and you have to do it as a coach and a staff. You can't break, you can't flinch. You've got to keep sticking with it.

And I think this season is long from over. We'll see obviously at the end of the season how far we can go, and then it goes into the next one and the next one and the next one.

We've had good moments this season where we've shown really good progress, and like all teams, you go through sort of the waves, and we're in a wave right now, and hopefully as we continue to keep progressing here and you get to February, you want to start to play your best ball, and we have an opportunity to do that.

Q. You talked about recruiting and not about any of the guys specifically, but how difficult has it been to absorb -- your first team has got five seniors, and you talked from day one about wanting class balance and age balance on your roster. Is that something you feel like is going to take a little bit of time?
ARCHIE MILLER: I mean, it's just the natural effect of five seniors in your first year go and you bring in five freshmen, so immediately you get a little younger. That's where you need the returners that have been a part of your program in the first year to be solid, and it's kind of like I said before, you know, we just haven't had the returners to really, really stabilize this youth, sort of our younger players.

As you get ready to go through the next phase, yeah, you're recruiting classes and you're going to get younger before you get older. That's just the way it's set up. You want to be able to bring in classes; you want to be able to develop them; you want them to be the backbone to what you do as you get further down the line, and getting older isn't something that happens really fast when there's sort of graduation, and from our standpoint, you looked at not only five seniors but you looked at the rising junior class last year with OG and obviously Thomas, those guys go pro, so quickly it's seven guys that go away realistically in the first 12 months.

That's nothing we didn't know about on the front end, when we took over. It's nothing we're even looking at right now. The quest right now is to focus in on what we're doing as a group here, and we have a lot of room to grow here in the next couple weeks. We can get better.

Q. Just checking in on availability of Race, Devonte and Rob for Saturday?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, our health has been something that's on going. We're looking at De'Ron as that February target of trying to get back in the mix, so I think he's going to start to really try to jump back in, so to speak, into practice. Devonte will be back, and Rob is obviously day-to-day with how he feels and whatnot, but I think he'll be fine.

Zach McRoberts is the one that guy that's obviously -- just hasn't had a fair crack at it this year. It's unfortunate, just from health-wise he hasn't been able to be himself. He's dealing with a little bit of a stress reaction in his foot right now, so he's going to end up being shut down here for a time to be determined. I'm not sure on that.

That's the one thing that's kind of popped up. But I think hopefully as we get into this early part of February, we have as many bodies as we've had to date, pretty much since the end of December.

Q. Michigan State not having Joshua Langford, their leading scorer, who's now going to be out for the rest of the season, how does that change their identity on both ends of the court?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, to be honest with you, he hasn't been in there since December, so their identity is pretty good right now. They've got unbelievable depth. They've got great role distribution. They've got guys playing extremely hard, and you know, their main cogs in the wheel, so to speak, their most experienced guys are all conference players. Cassius Winston is probably as good as it gets in college basketball right now in terms of running the team. Nick Ward is about as good as it gets in terms of commanding a presence down there. With those two guys, that's a two-headed deal, but they're getting unbelievable production from a lot of different guys, Kenny Goins, Xavier Tillman are doing a great job. Obviously their presence offensively and defensively on the boards and what they're doing is a big, big reason why they're so successful, and they're playing a lot more of their younger players since Josh has been out, which adds Henry and Brown and Ahrens and those guys are in there and they're playing well. What you're seeing right now is who they are. December -- Josh I don't think has been a part of things for a good month, so what you're seeing right now, that's who they are, and they're good.

Q. You mentioned in there that Devonte will be back. Do you mean he'll be back tomorrow or he'll be back sometime? Is there a timeline?
ARCHIE MILLER: Devonte is back. He's back full go as of yesterday's practice. Barring unforeseen things, Devonte should be back in the mix for us in terms of availability to play.

Q. Al feels like a guy who's trying to step up in the way he's playing but also lead beyond his years a little bit. Where do you think he is in that process, and obviously I know it's a lot to ask of a young guy, but just how do you think he's embraced it?
ARCHIE MILLER: Al is doing a good job for us. One, he's a great teammate. He's smart, comes to work every single day. He wants to do the right thing. So that attitude right there is going to lead him as a guy that we really trust, and right now he's playing a ton of minutes, and he's doing about as well as he can do in terms of helping us have another guy out there that's communicating and understands what's going on. He shoots the ball right now as well as anybody on our team. We need him to continue to do that. He's handling the ball quite a bit for us, and he's trying to be aggressive, which is a good thing. Defensively we've just got to keep him getting better and staying with it, but Al's attitude has been great, and he's been a guy that really to be honest with you we've counted on here to give us a lot of production, and in ways he's doing a good job with it.

Q. Kind of a longer term question, but coming up on about a year since De'Ron had his achilles injury right before you guys went to Michigan State. He's kind of been able to offer you guys some stuff, but obviously his body has kind of let him down at certain points, as well. Just looking forward not only to this season but for the rest of his college career, what do you think he can maybe continue to offer you guys within your system and within the way that his body has reacted to certain things so far?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, De'Ron's deal has really been health. When you tear an achilles, that's a serious, serious injury to come back from, and his rehabilitation from last January led him to be able to sort of go through October and November as his conditioning process.

I think once he got to December, within that conditioning process, he goes through the body shock of, wow, this is hard, blah-blah-blah, and then he started to really round into form. If you watched us play, whether that be at Arkansas or Duke or in the bigger games in the non-conference, he played a role in all of those games and help us win, and that's a big part of how our team had some success. De'Ron was either -- the ability to throw the ball, the ability to make plays out of the post, a bigger body on defense at times, whether that's the Louisville game, the Butler game, he's in those games, and the ankle injury in early January against Illinois basically took him out for about a month now, and I think I've said it time and time again, if you just look back on it, De'Ron should have shut it down probably after Illinois for a two- to three-week period and maybe he would have played a bigger role here at the end of January. But it is what it is. I think he's feeling as well as he has in terms of his mobility. Now again it'll be a month of February where he has to try like crazy to stay and get more conditioning level because he really hasn't played in a month.

Long-term for De'Ron, it's just -- when you're a big guy, your conditioning level and your approach to your body is the biggest thing, and he's got a number of injuries, whether it be foot or ankle or whatever, I think a lot of that will have to do with another off-season of really taking care of himself. He had to work through it, like I said. He didn't have like an off-season where he started the season a hundred percent, and he's really battled through a lot of little things across the way.

But if he can be productive for us, that changes our team in a big way here down the second half of the conference play.

Q. The APR situation you inherited here, how has that been maybe something you've had to work around? How has that maybe prevented you adding guys, prevented you from doing some things with this roster you wanted to do? Has that been an issue you've had to work around at all?
ARCHIE MILLER: It hasn't really been a concern. When we got here, we had a full roster of a team; know what I mean? There wasn't a whole lot of wiggle room in terms of what we were going to do in our first year, to be able to recreate something really fast. You know, for us, development and retention is everything, and graduation is everything. You know, our goal is to put these guys in a situation where obviously they're getting better, they're getting older, and they're pursuing what they want to do academically. APR is something that I think every staff goes through when you have transfers or departures, but for us that hasn't really been a concern. We haven't navigated around it or dealt with it. We've gotten through what we've had to get through, and we'll continue to do that.

But it's not one of those things that we think about every single day, and it hasn't really been a part of the makeup of what we're trying to do.

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