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November 5, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 98, Western Illinois - 65

ARCHIE MILLER: A good win opening night. It's always, get the season off on a good note. It's hard to win in college basketball. And for our guys there's a lot of newness out there, a lot of inexperience. There's a lot of question marks in terms of what's going to happen sometimes on game night. And for us to be able to win with the game, I'm excited about that and our team should be as well. We got a long way to go. Not a very good defensive team right now, and that's got to get shored up. We've got a quick turnaround Saturday. And Portland State will present a lot of different challenges for us because of their style with their pressing and whatnot. But we're off and running here. We played a lots of guys, which was good to see. And as we get a little bit more healthy and get Devonte back, I think everyone can tell that there's not a guy that doesn't belong out there. So hopefully it continues to give us confidence and that what we're doing is working and we can get getting better.

Q. Do you look at Justin Smith as one of those barometer guys, that when he plays well you guys play well as a team?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think so. He's one of our oldest guys. He's played in every single game as a college basketball player at Indiana. I think that's hard to say. There's probably a lot of great players that have played here that maybe early in their career maybe didn't played as much. He's played a lot of minutes. He changed the game for us in the first half with his defensive intensity. He was able to get out and make some plays, gave us a cushion, gave us confidence, gave us some momentum. And that's what older guys do, the most experienced guys play. I look at his numbers and his line, and I'll be honest with you, I didn't even notice that he scored 24 points. I think at the end of the day, I was just watching how he approached things there in a certain point of time. Defensively he's very, very active and made plays for us. So as we keep going here's, he's an important cog in our wheel. He's got to stay with it and just keep getting better.

Q. I think you said you had a goal for him in terms of minutes again. Did he have a goal tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: 15 to 20 minutes is what he was supposed to play and he played 17 and a half. So we stuck in there. He did a good job. He's starting to work his way back here a little bit in practice. Hopefully he continues to feel good. We'll see how it goes here in the next 48 hours with his recovery. If all that goes wells, and he keeps practicing, obviously, his role will continue to increase.

Q. You looked like a different team with Al out there, versus is the exhibition game, even. Speak to his progress. 7-7 tonight. His shot just looks so much better.
ARCHIE MILLER: Al's an important part to what we do again. He's an older player, he's a Junior now. And he's played a lot of minutes, he's a leader on our team, and, minus the 10-day period of time that, obviously, knock on wood that he was able to recover from a knee contusion. He did the same thing in the Marquette game, he ran our team, played with great tempo, was smart. And, again, tonight was able to make some shots and I think that's a positive sign for his confidence level.

But three assists, one turnover, four defensive rebounds, I think he did a nice job, obviously, with our team in terms of leading them. But I think you can tell, he's very comfortable right now in how we're playing and he's got to stay with it and I think that as we get some other guys around him and continue to get a little bit more experience he'll have some help at the guard slot for sure.

Q. To kind of go back to Justin, I know he's, as you talked about, one of your more experienced guys, a guy who is played a lot. How much more to you feel that you can put on him at both ends of the floor this season? He just looks more comfortable in what works in his game, especially in maybe turning defense into offense.
ARCHIE MILLER: I think defensively him being able to move around the floor is very important. He turned into a very, very solid defender for us last year. When engaged and when really locked in can be an elite defender. He's shown that. He defended bigger players last year. Now he's defending both. So it's a new challenge for him defending on the perimeter and the post, he can defend multiple positions. So defensively he's a very, very key cog in what we're doing, depending on how we're playing and who we're playing.

Offensively, he's got to get around the basket, he's got to use his talents in the open floor. And I think that's what you're seeing right now. He's a much more confident player because of the way, I think he's out in lanes and he's able to get around the basket different ways. But I think the big thing for him is to be engaged on what we're asking him to do. And I thought tonight he did a good job stepping up and making an impact in ways that a lot of guys didn't see, just in terms of it wasn't about a three-point shot that went in. It was much more about him changing the game with his effort level.

Q. They were up three about midway through the first half and I think you guys went on something like a 16, 18-0 run over a four-minute stretch. It seemed like there was a pretty good lineup that was doing some good things. What did you like about that?
ARCHIE MILLER: Quicker lineup. Trayce and Justin together with, I'm not sure who in particular was at the guard slot, may have been Al or maybe even Rob at the time. But Rob, but you had three veteran guys, and then you had your quickest lineup out there defensively. We weren't applying any heat defensively there in the first six to eight minutes. It was very methodical and they were able to do what they want. We started to challenge some passing lanes, we were able to get some deflections, we got out in transition and got a cushion, and that lineup, having some quickness to it, I thought helped.

Q. You had new guys from every level, whether it was true freshman Trayce and Armaan or Joey Brunk or Jerome Hunter, just your thoughts on how that group played and how they can really take this team to the next step?
ARCHIE MILLER: They just got to get more experienced. I think Trayce is playing within himself right now. He's doing a really good job of just being himself. I think he's going to have games where he's got bigger games scoring and whatnot. But he's content with being a great teammate right now, which is good. I think Joey feeling himself out a little bit offensively early, was a little uncertain how to attack. It got more comfortable as the game goes and I think as the games continue to play he'll get more experience level with what we're doing. He hasn't played with any of these guys before, so it's the first time.

Armaan, I thought offensively, again, eight assists, zero turnovers, very smooth. Didn't score it as much tonight, which at the end of the day is going to happen, but eight assists was really, really big for Armaan. And we just got all of them. They just got to get more experience, they got to get more game experience, more toughness into what they're doing, in terms of how we have to do it, because I think all three were really, if you, all three, obviously, right now are big impact guys in terms of adding new weapons to the fold. I mean, all three guys can do a lot of different things for us.

Q. How about Jerome?
ARCHIE MILLER: Jerome did a nice job tonight. Got 16 minutes, which is about where he's at right now. Jerome's gifted offensively, he was able to get around the basket a little bit more in the second half like he did in our first game. But he can, he can get going from the outside and he did a good job.

I thought first and second half, both times, Jerome's good. Jerome's basically a true freshman. He's playing his first college game today. So to be able to get out there is probably a relief for him, now he can continue to build. It's not like he's go this wealth of experience. I mean you got a brand new guy out there in him as well. So with him, Trayce and Armaan you got two, three, really just true freshman. And Damezi's experience level is much improved, I think you can tell, in that he's a lot more solid, but again he needs more reps as well.

Q. The ball movement in general, 18 assists to 11 turnovers, how would you assess and how important is that going to be going forward sharing the ball?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's a big part going forward. Our ball movement has got to move, the ball has got to move, the players have got to move. In the first half it's always a feel it out process, you're always gauging how the team is going to guard you. I thought they sat back, they packed it in, they kind of wanted us to pass it around the perimeter a little bit. And we were unsure just in our movement.

Second half we were much more aggressive. Ball movement, quickness, cutting, our post guys were better in getting in a little bit tighter where we didn't have to deal with as much crowd on the floor. We had some plays where we were a little too cute. I would say out of our 11 turnovers four or five of them, three or four of them were just trying to be cute. Had some plays that you don't need to make. And we'll get those out of our system here moving forward.

But 11 turnovers that's the one you look at with our team, can't turn the ball over with this group. And being able to have four at half, probably had a couple too many in the second half.

18 assists was good. Our perimeter players, Al, Armaan and Rob accounted for 14 assists between them which was great, so we just got to stay with it.

Q. You mentioned after the exhibition that you would look out on the court and see a lot of new faces. Was there any less of that today and I guess having that experience in the exhibition how did that kind of help?
ARCHIE MILLER: There's some inexperience. I think Al being back in the lineup obviously helped and then Rob being a part of what we're doing you get a little bit more comfort level as a coach looking out there and seeing Rob and Al. We hadn't had that. In all reality, it's the first time the two guys have played together all year. They haven't been part of a practice together, to be honest with you. So to have those two guys out there it gives you a little bit more comfort level and confidence that your older, more experienced guys are playing. So we had a little bit more familiarity there and eventually Devonte makes his way back, now you have a third guy out there, so that gives you a little bit more comfort.

Damezi and Jerome and Justin those guys playing together the floor at times is good and at times you need another ball handler maybe a little bit. But I'm good right now, I feel like if we just keep evolving and our guys stay with it we have a lot of different guys that can help this team. And it's going to be strength by numbers, it's going to be by committee, and at the end of the day this team I think is going to have to find a way to Will itself to win with a lot of people doing a lot of different things. But the way you hold your hat on that is the effort level and the consistency defensively. If you can get great on defense, and you can be a team that's deep on defense and you don't have weak links on defense then the offense will take care of itself.

We have to become a team, this team has to become a team that can play a lot of guys, that comes at you and is very solid defensively. And that's where we're trying to get to. We're not there yet by any stretch.

Q. Whether it was off makes or misses you guys seemed particularly effective getting downhill and pushing the tempo. Is there anything about this particular team that is maybe better suited to play that style?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well you have front court depth. You have the ability to not play guys 35 minutes inside. They can't run you all day. You're only as good as your front court can run. And Joey and Trayce, De'Ron, Race, you move just Justin down there a little bit, you have different options and you can keep the pace up because your front court depth is good. If you don't have front depth you can't run, It doesn't matter what you say. But right now we have a stable of guys that I feel like if they're in there they can put pressure on the rim. If you put pressure on the rim and your guards are doing a good job of advancing the ball and pushing it, I think that's what your seeing right now is a team that's trying to continue to push the pace. We're getting a lot up the floor, which is a good sign, and that's got to be a part of what we're doing. We can't play sort of trudging through the mud, we got to get going.

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