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INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 20, 2019
Indiana - 79, Princeton - 54
COACH MILLER: Good win for our team tonight. When we did our schedule, obviously Princeton garners a lot of respect. Mitch does a great job. They had a lot of veterans coming back. They have all-conference players.
And I think at the end of the day, getting healthy and as they get through their non-conference, you know, they'll be a contender in the Ivy. It's a good win for our team.
I told our guys they were going to make it difficult on us early, and they did. It wasn't an easy run-out game, where you're going to be able to outscore your opponent. You would have to execute. And first half, kind of felt our way through it -- did some good things, obviously we did some poor things.
But second half, we were much better. Our offensive execution and not turning the ball over, getting a shot almost every time down was really good. We were better defensively, clearly with the percentages. I don't think we were perfect by any stretch. But I do think overall, the overall depth of our team, playing a lot of guys maybe had something to do with it, wearing them down a little bit.
But with us, this is a really good win against a good team. And I think they're going to have a great year. And I think for us to be able to get to 5-0 is very important. And for us to have a locker room of guys who are excited and happy about that is even more important.
Playing a lot of guys. There's a lot of sacrifice going on, a lot of inconsistency in the minutes being played. I think as our guys are realizing, the best that we can do is push each other every day and on game day be prepared and mentally ready and take advantage of it. If you take advantage of your opportunities in the game, you're going to find your opportunities are more. And if you're not, then those opportunities will be a little bit less.
That's just the gift that this team has right now. They have a lot of guys that are about, in my opinion, not far different in terms of the impact that they play.
So having Rob and Devonte for the first time, obviously gives us a little bit more depth in the back court for the first time all year. I thought Devonte was terrific. And I thought Al was very good with his floor game, having six assists and two turnovers.
As we can get Rob now back hopefully after this game to practice a little bit more, and we'll get him ramped up with Armaan and do a better job there.
Joey did a great job defensively, as did our bigs. We were very concerned about their low post game, and I thought for the most part we eliminated a lot of easy catches tonight.
Q. Talking about Joey, for all the talk about the scheme and him back and forth, how much value is there sometimes when they are trying to make the game a little more rugged for you down in the post, a guy that's just not kind of bashful about getting physical?
COACH MILLER: He was ready to play tonight. I think he stepped up to the challenge in terms of us playing against a physical body down there. But Joey's a good offensive player. He just hasn't been as aggressive or assertive in games.
I thought in our previous games he's tried to play the right way. But in many ways we need Joe to be selfish down there. He can score the ball with either hand. He's got good feet.
Tonight he dropped a few easy ones. I thought maybe hit him in the hands. He didn't have that going as much. But around the basket he was good. And we found him, too, that's the other thing, guys hit him for some easy ones. I was more proud about Joe working defensively than what he did for us tonight offensively. He's a good offensive player.
Q. Through five games, how have you sort of assessed how your team has been able to defend the 3-point line, and on the flip side of that, the looks you've been able to get on the offense as well?
COACH MILLER: The 3-point line for us defensively, their percentage tonight was at 22 percent. But obviously in the first half they made a few. I think over the course of the game, as we get better, the course of the game, we get better. Hopefully we continue to shrink that percentage down.
It's a huge part of the game. We have a big team in the way that we play. If we're giving up 3s, we're either not getting back or we're getting beat off the dribble. If we're not getting beat off the dribble, we're getting back and getting set, we should be a tough team to defend the 3. Clearly we have to do our work, keep getting better.
Offensively, if we take good shots and the guys that are supposed to shoot the 3s shoot them, we'll make a good percentage. If we take a ton of 3s and a lot of guys shooting them, in my opinion we won't be a good percentage team. But I think our last few games we've taken pretty good 3-point shots. I have confidence in all the guys right now that are shooting them. If we take good ones, I have no problem with it. But we're clearly a team that aspires to play the break, the movement inside/out and play off of that. And I thought we did a pretty good job.
They post trapped tonight for the first time we saw all season, and I think we handled it better in the second half, much better in the second half than we did in the first.
Q. You were much better in the second half defensively, especially against Llewellyn. Did you make some adjustments in that regard, or just play better?
COACH MILLER: He did a really good job in the first half of playing downhill after they set a screen for him. It wasn't so much as him beating screens. Our guys were doing a good job, I thought, staying in front of him but he was doing a pretty good job to keep probing and continuing to come back.
He hit a couple that from a ball screen defensive perspective we didn't give enough help on the bigs. Second half I thought we were better there and better on the ball. I thought Al did a good job. Rob was in there a few times. He did a good job on him.
But without question, the first half he got to the paint. We're playing a lot of teams right now just in general that have spread the floor. You have a five outlook all the time, having four drivers out there at times. We're tending as our inexperience and our youth are in there, we're tending to get a little bit closer to our man. I want to be closer to my man, when in general we have to be a tighter team so they can't get in there and our help is -- our early help is sort of our positioning.
And tonight I thought we were better in the second half, in particular. I thought Justin did a really good job. If you watch how he's playing right now, he's a valuable, valuable defender. Whether he's guarding a big guy or little guy. We have to move him around at times. He's experienced and knows what to do. He really helps our team. He's a valuable piece to our success defensively, is Justin.
Q. First half had a little bit of a Big Ten feel to it. Looked to me like they were trying to slow you down in transition and kind of muddy up the game a little bit, I guess. Where do you feel you are as a team in that kind of game where you're kind of stuck a little bit?
COACH MILLER: Well, we haven't been in a ton of them yet. I think they definitely did try to slow us down. I didn't think that our point guards in general in the first half really ran and pushed the ball how we've seen. They were better in the second half.
As we get stagnant early in the season here away from us, we tend to stand then rather cut. I think at times that we did execute a couple screening actions and move the ball, we got easy ones or we got drives.
But the offensive rebounding was another thing they slowed us down on. We weren't on the glass as heavy in the first half. So it was sort there.
But I thought offensively in the first half, for us, we scored 35 points in the first half and made our free throws. We were all right.
Second half we were much better. We had some defense to offense. We were able to move the ball better off the post trap. We got some second shots. I thought Joe was pretty good in there. I thought Race had a couple big plays in there.
And Trayce was good as well. He's learning how to play the game right now against a lot of different styles. But he was efficient, five of six from the deal and 11 points. And he was pretty good in there as well.
We've got a lot of different guys. We've got to keep getting better, keep getting a more experienced level. And we need to work through what I would call inconsistency off guys coming into the game. Guys coming into the game have to be ready to roll. If they're, it not stands out. And then we have to go to another guy.
But I think, in general, if we can get Damezi and Jerome and Armaan and our younger players -- and then you move in Devonte and Rob now, coming in for more, that symmetry, that chemistry of knowing what to do and playing together, that's the thing that we're trying to figure out the most in terms of the speed of the game and pace of play.
Sometimes when you have new guys out there that are unsure it holds and it sticks a little bit. When it doesn't stick with us it's good. When it doesn't stick, obviously we can walk in mud.
Q. You've mentioned 12 or fewer turnovers as kind of a goal for the team. (Indiscernible) game basis that's happened now four out of five games. Just how encouraging is that as you kind of track your progress here in the preseason?
COACH MILLER: Nothing's more important for this team is not turning the ball over, especially the live-ball turnovers. We had a silly one to start the game today again. It was a post feed.
We have to do the ones that, like, you turn the ball over out of being aggressive. The turnovers that are after-thought plays where I really didn't know what to do with it, so I just gave to it this guy, rather than having real purpose to what we're doing.
And I think we had -- how many at half? Did we have six, six at half? So we finished the game at nine. So, three in the second half, which was obviously good.
And I look at our guard play. When I see turnovers I look right to the guard play, and I thought tonight -- Al 6 to 0, that's awesome. Devonte in two games now, 8 to 2. That's great. Armaan was 2 to 0 tonight. And Rob got in there with two more assists tonight.
You start to look at our assists totals, the floor game by our guards -- they're handling the ball more for us, so they have to take care of the ball more for us.
Our front-court guys, they just have to do a great job knowing what they're doing if they do get trapped. We had a couple easy.
If you look at the two things with our team, it's rebounding and turning the ball over. If we're rebounding well and we don't turn the ball over, we're going to be all right. If we turn it over or we don't rebound, we're done.
Q. Devonte Green even with his typically flare that he has in his game seemed to make a lot more plays that he may not have made a year ago, with one turnover, typically less than he would have had last season. How have you seen him mature as a player from last season to this season?
COACH MILLER: Not a ton. I haven't seen him that much. He hasn't played that much for us. I think at the end of the day, Devonte knows that he's a playmaker for us and we want him to be aggressive.
It's the simple plays. It's being aggressive within the framework of what we're doing. He's our best playmaker in terms of making the pass you can't see, he sees it early. And shot selection. That's the other thing with him that's always kind of got him.
He's so aggressive and he knows he can impact the game. But you've got to understand those ones when you're aggressive, how to take them. I think that's the only thing I stress to him is to play smart and play simple. If he does that, he'll play a big role with what we're doing.
And he's just getting back into the framework. He's only played two games with these guys. He was better tonight. He was very impactful in tonight's game. I don't take a whole lot into the plus/minus, but when you're plus-29 in your minutes in the game, that's pretty good.
Q. Following up on Devonte, you've been around him for three years now, what do you think, I guess, where do you think he gets his comfortable level back as he gets healthier, as he gets back into the flow? Is it just pure minutes, is it defense, the way he passes the ball? Just what gets him back to being Devonte, I guess?
COACH MILLER: The ball goes into the basket, baby. There's one thing that makes (indiscernible) feel good, in my opinion, and that's him being able to impact the game by making a shot early, a play early. And he got that tonight. He got that tonight.
You can see, once that pressure gets out of -- I gotta get one to go down. In my opinion, that's always been his bugaboo, trying to get going in a certain way. And for him, he can impact our team in so many ways. Early in the game, especially in this game, I thought his play making was way better than his scoring, especially early.
He hit Race on a couple that Race didn't finish. It was good passes by him. He's a guy that's, to me, driven to be aggressive. And with that aggressiveness, you have to find that meeting of allowing him to, one, be aggressive, and then, B, not allowing him to self-destruct, so to speak, and then get down on himself or worry about it. Move on to the next play.
But I think without question, I think Devonte is feeling his best when he's able to make shots or able to impact the game offensively. And then the rest of it takes care of itself. He can play the game freely.
But I thought even last game and the last couple of practices, he hasn't made some shots. And the first game out a little bit frustrated. And it carries over. But to me, for him, play the right way, keep it simple. And obviously I'm going to allow him or we're going to allow him to be himself and be as aggressive as he can.
He's the one player on our team, he's very, very impactful, creative-wise. He can do things that other guys don't see. His pick-and-roll game tonight was really good. Like I said, we start over tomorrow. Devonte, hopefully, we have a good day.
Q. Rob, seemed like he got poked in the eye at one point in time.
COACH MILLER: I didn't see any play. I wasn't real sure what he did. He came out one time whether it was a collision, I don't really know. I'm not sure what happened to him.
Q. Is there any sort of trend through five games that you've had a lot of nice second-half runs? Is that an encouraging sign for you? They're kind of learning quickly on the fly.
COACH MILLER: We have an inexperienced team. So you try it out to start the game, see how things go here. Could go a lot of different ways. And second half, let's calm down, let's make a few adjustments and I think we'll be fine. And I think they've taken that to heart that our second half offense typically is better and more comfortable.
They're not having to play the game, so to speak, without any help. Second-half defense, make a couple of adjustments, especially guarding the 3 or getting back.
But to me we have a team that I think is as it sinks in, as the year goes on, we'll be a better second half team because we have so much inexperience in terms of the guys knowing what to do or how to do it and step up.
That's why it was good to see Justin tonight play a really solid game. Al didn't score as many as he had been but he had a great floor game. So it's good to see our upperclassmen, those two in particular, tonight, step up and play a good game where it wasn't an explosive scoring night or one of those deals, because they know what to do. They know how to do it. We need them to lead the way.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports