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November 12, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

North Alabama-65, Indiana-91

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, good win for us. Keep learning a lot about ourselves. You know, the big picture defensively we're not there. I thought we made some strides leading into the game, but perimeter defense, guarding three-point line, being able to execute just with, you know, with great intensity, just wasn't there.

Let them get off to a really good start shooting the ball. Second half, better. Overwhelmingly the free throw line continues to be an advantage for us. We're finding ways to get there. But we're 3-0, and they're not easy to get. Doesn't really matter who you play. It's hard. It's early in the year.

For us, we'll take it, and we got to find a way to get better for Saturday night.

Q. I know you mentioned being better defensively in the second half. How much of that first half was them just maybe hitting some tough shots versus you guys being out of position?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, I didn't see them take very many tough ones in the first five, six minutes of the game, eight minutes of the game. That's where it got going.

Jamari Blackmon coming into the game, knowing that he's their best player and having the opportunity to watch him on film, you know, those guys were the guys we had to be ready to stop early. You know, to their credit, he and Agnew and Brim really played well. Hit 7 out of 10 in the first half. Now maybe you get a little balance on that a little bit, but I felt the ball was moving fast for them; our rotations were slow. Felt like just ball pressure in general couldn't stifle them and they got good looks.

I think a little bit frustrating as we were going, because I think coming into the game we knew what we had to do. Second half a little better. But, again, nowhere near where we need to be. I think what ut team needs to understand is the more you're on film the more people pick you apart, the more they pick you apart individually.

It's not like you just start out there -- I mean, people are trying like crazy to do different things to the other team. What they're doing to us is really picking on us perimeter-wise in terms of drive. We're having a hard time guarding the ball, and at the end of the day they're putting us in tough situations.

Another game where we commit 23 personal fouls. We're just defensively not there yet. Now, can we get there? Yeah. We have a lot of inexperience, and back court-wise our depth getting Devonte back hopefully here in the near future helps give us another guy to throw in there.

Overwhelmingly over 40 minutes, hopefully the collection we have of guys over the course of 40 minutes, you know, we can find ways to keep going, which we did.

That's what we have to keep doing.

Q. You've talked about challenging him to be able to defend smaller guys. How much of a swing guy is Trayce for you because of the fact he can let you play bigger, but if you want to play smaller he can go to the 5 and just kind of do a lot for you on the glass?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's very versatile in that his athleticism and his size and length, you know, is an advantage for him. He's young. Defending a little perimeter is new for him and he's got a lot of drivers right now. Eventually those drivers will become shooters, so guarding on the perimeter is something we're stressing.

But, yes, being able to move him back and forth and play a smaller lineup at times is a huge deal. That's why the versatility of Jerome and Damezi and Justin and those guys plays a big part in what we're trying to do?

There is going to be times where you want to be more mobile; maybe you have to cover more ground. There are also some times where you're going to play against teams with great size and you're going to need that bulk.

Trayce definitely can bounce back and forth. It's to his advantage at times to be at the 5, especially offensively the way he runs. Also to his advantage, as you saw tonight, he drew eight fouls, so he was able to get to the foul line 15 times.

Q. Mentioned on Saturday that Phinisee was playing more minutes in the game than in practice; tonight he had 22, second most on the team. How close is he to being at 100%, and how much are you relying on him now given how much he played tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's starting to practice full go now. He doesn't really have a ton of restrictions, and we'll see. He played 20 some minutes tonight. Do I think he's 100%? No. I don't think he has his rhythm. I think a month of not practicing doesn't allow you to get out there.

I do think hopefully he continues to build day by day and gets better and better. He had 10 and 5, 5 assists at the half. Did a pretty good job right there; I think defensively to start the second half he was good. As we got going, ends up I guess 21 minutes, 13 points, 6 assists. Pretty good.

Q. Coach, if you had to put more time into defense and practice than you would like to right now, and possibly at the expense of your offense.
ARCHIE MILLER: Gosh, it's like you can't spend enough time on something. You know, we have an inexperienced group. There are some guys with some age that may have been here a year or two, but game minutes, that's a little different. Sometimes you look out there and there are not a lot of guys that have played a ton, ton of minutes other than Justin and Al and De'Ron, and obviously Devonte. Those are your guys that have played a ton. And Rob.

Everyone else really inexperience-wise in terms of a lot of minutes, so getting out there and playing Armaan and those guys getting reps, they just need to go through it. I think together as you get more experience you get better at it.

We're going to get better defensively. There are some real concerns on the perimeter right now in terms of our ability right now to set the tone, so to speak, with our pressure.

But I do think we're going to get better because we have a willing group right now. You're in a locker room at the end of the game. You play a lot of different types of guys. Justin Smith scored I think three points tonight. Had a couple big games. Justin Smith was just as happy tonight after the game as he was the other day.

That's the most important thing for this group as we keep building, is to find ways to understand the winning is what matters the most.

Q. That was just going to be my question. Tonight you had all these guys off the bench, double figures and everything. It looks like it truly does not matter who is out there in regards to that as to guys wanting to be successful, right?
ARCHIE MILLER: Without question. I don't think anybody looks out there and when Jerome scores a basket I think our entire team is excited for him. Damezi was back in there tonight. Made a couple shots for us. Made some plays. Everyone on our team I think really collectively understands that if we're going to do this thing and we have a chance to be the best we can be, there's going to be nights where it's going to be some other guys. You know, every other night. It's not going to be the same guy every night with this group. We have a lot of different types of guys that can help us and contribute in lot ways.

I think as we get more experience playing more games and you start to pick up the competition level, as we continue to mow down the road, it's going to serve us best. You know, where you trust that you can put somebody in there and they're going to be able to play the way you want them to play.

Right now, when Devonte come backs we have 11 guys that as a coaching staff that I feel like we're good if we're in a game right now. If we put a guy in the game right now, we feel like they got to execute. Jerome and Damezi ar two prime examples. Those two guys are going to play a big role for us; they're 8 for 14 in the game, and two guys that come off the bench that weren't really a part of our rotation last year have added impact. They got to keep getting better at different areas, but those two guys in general can shoot the ball. That's a big help for us.

Q. You touch on the perimeter defense. I guess it was 7 to 10 the first half. How much of that was adjustments or effort? What did you do perimeter-wise in the second half?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think we were better at taking away the initial looks. I don't think they got great looks early. In the first half, as you could see, I thought they got pretty clean looks early. I think we did a better job there. Made them put the ball on the floor a little bit more, which was good.

But all in all, just this feeling I think as a coaching staff that we're sitting there right now, waiting for that moment or that series of possession where you're like, Wow, five, six in a row guys were really, really on it. We haven't had that yet. We're going to have to get it, but that's a concern. It's a concern. I don't want fool's gold for our guys.

Also want them to know how hard it is to win one game. It's hard. We got a lot guys in there right now that are learning to win together. That's important. To be able to be 3-0 is the most important thing without question.

Q. Talked about Trayce, wanting to see him be more assertive; I think he was 14 of 15 from the free throw line today. Is that more of the Trayce you would like to see?
ARCHIE MILLER: He was very active, you know, how he drew his fouls; on offensive rebounds on thought he got going early. Couple post-ups, couple face-up drives. He was able to get fouled there. So without question.

I mean, trying to get him the ball down low continues for our team just in general. Being a team that can find ways to get the ball inside is going to be important. But he's a unique player. I've been telling him this since 10th grade, he's going to get fouled a ton. Left-hander, mobile, athletic, awkward. Turns into you a lot kind of because he is left-handed.

But he's always drawing contact around the basket. When you're that gifted around the rim rebounding, driving, quickness, off the ground, it's good, but he can draw fouls. He's always done that.

Proud of him tonight, 14 of 15 from the line. That's a huge deal.

Q. With as many fouls and free throws as there was, how important is it for the kids to gain the experience of them playing a choppy game like that?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, you have to stay with it. It was a hard game to be in. It was also just from an officiating standpoint, there was a lot of contact out there, a lot of fouls. Thought they did a nice job for the most part.

We fouled too much, you know. We had some uncharacteristic, just undisciplined plays. Just not good. But for us, we're attacking the basket, the paint. Teams are playing different styles against us than they do coming in.

Tonight's game, North Alabama I think just in watching them, the amount of turnovers they forced coming in, watching them last year, watching them this year, their full court pressure, we didn't see much of that.

We saw much more of a go under, pack it in. We're not that team that we were a year ago where you can just put five guys in the paint and say, Let them shoot. We're not that team. You are having to figure out different ways to play against teams. For us, 45 free throws, thought we got good looks. For the most part, we took care of the ball in the second half; in the first half we were way too sloppy. We had nine turnovers in the first half. This team can't turn the ball over that many times in a half. That's bad.

But for the most part on offense, that wasn't our problem tonight.

Q. Asked about Jerome in different ways. Hit his first three shots; had a couple in the second that didn't go down. Just where do you feel like his offensive game and his comfort level are after so much time away?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's get more and more comfortable now. I think you can see -- you know, the one thing is you get into games and you play it safe and then there is playing tentative. He's neither. He's coming in the game and wants to be himself. The confidence that he has in himself, especially to take shots and do some things, is great to see. He's able to just bang some shots. He's a good scoring -- I mean, naturally on offense he can shoot the ball. He's very good around the basket, and he's almost 6'8" right now in terms of his size. He's getting better defensively, which is good. Off the ball and on the ball he's doing a better job offensively.

But as keeps going in the half court and how we play and how he's going to have to play, he's going to be a guy that I think we can count on hopefully in time that offensively he can score the ball. That's what he does. He had some good looks that I thought in the second half rimmed right out. They were right on.

So confidence, you know, courage to come in there and play right now, he's working his way back. He did this a year ago before he got removed due to injury. He gets better each week. He's very coachable. He keeps getting better. The more experience he gets he gets better, so we're sort of like on the same track we were a year ago with him. Starting to see hem play a little bit more freely in the games.

Obviously he's going to have to keep getting better, which I think he will.

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