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November 25, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 88, Louisiana Tech - 75

COACH MILLER: Good win for our team. Looking on the schedule, as we scheduled our non-conference, Louisiana Tech really commanded a lot of our respect and they have a good program. They win a ton of games.

They have a lot of experience and I feel like they're going to have a terrific season. So this is one, regardless of how you feel you played, we won the game and a few months from now this will be one that's more valuable than hopefully most people realize.

For our team, I thought we got off to a really good start. Our guards did a really good job early in the game of attacking in transition. I thought they made the game pretty easy early. And we were able to build a comfortable lead.

Towards the end of the first half we got very sloppy, transition defense-wise, defense in general. And I thought at the end of the first half we didn't play as well.

But at halftime, 10 assists, 52 points and did a decent job there for the most part to have a lead.

Second half, embarrassing really how we took care of the ball. And I think it started very quickly in our first possession. When you turn the ball over coming out of halftime, you're not able to get a shot, messes you up. And just the types of turnovers we had really weren't very good.

And it hurt us all half. We weren't able to really get a hold of it. We weren't able to really play the game the right way in terms of how we moved it, shared it, free-flowing. It just became a dribble-fest, a turnover-fest and there weren't a whole lot of people in my opinion in sync. It was really hard to play the second half based on that.

We made free throws. Trayce made free throws, our team in general made free throws. We were able to rebound the ball pretty well and that saved us. But 18 turnovers, I think it was six at half, four at half? So, 13 turnovers in the second half. You're not going to win very many games doing that.

So we're very fortunate. Hopefully it was one of those deals you've got to be able to get through. But it definitely was a hard game to watch in the second half.

Q. I know the two halves were so crazily different, but what can you take out of how efficient you were in that first half, getting points? And talk a little bit about what Devonte brings to that the 15 first half points.
COACH MILLER: Like I said, in the first half I thought our guards did a nice job. We were attacking in transition. We shared the ball. They went zone. Our bigs did a good job of moving it. And we were unselfish and we made some really good looks. And Devonte got going there early in the first half.

In the second half, it was a tale of two halves. As good as they were in the first half, it was as bad as they were in the second half.

And what we can take from Devonte is obviously it can't be when the good is good and the bad is bad. Devonte has to stay even keel and grab the reigns of the team. Al has to grab the reigns of the team. And when things get shaken up, you need the guard the leadership, the huddles -- let's get a shot, let's get a stop and let's calm it down.

You can't go possession after possession of ineptness out there. I think that's where those two guys have to see the big picture of leadership, floor generals, command of the game. And that's what I would like to see Devonte and Al, just talking to them after the game, whether you play well or you should the ball well or -- there's always that basketball-savvy, coach-on-the-floor type of mentality you have to have as a perimeter player.

And we lost that coming out of halftime. And as the second half started to look really sloppy, those guys got to settle us down, they've got to grab us, we've got to be able to execute a play, get a quality shot.

We weren't able to do that for a good portion of the second half. And that's disappointing. I don't think that will be the case. But you'll see, and as we watch the film, we thought it was going to be easier in the second half just like it was the first. The shots weren't there early in possessions and we forced it. And it turned into turnovers.

But I'm not going to get bent out of shape. The team won a good game. We didn't play particularly well in the second half offensively. There's some things to take away.

I wish our depth was a little bit stronger tonight where we were firing guys in and out. And we just, we shot ourselves in the foot too many times with the turnovers. And this is the first time all year it's really creeped its head. And it wasn't a lot of guys, in my opinion. Our back court had to take better care of the ball in the second half.

Q. You talked about the free-throw line as being important for this team all year, and Trayce, it seems like, has also becoming, both at the free-throw line and in the post, just a consistent weapon. Do you feel as you get toward the end of November those are a couple things this team, even when things aren't working offensively, can kind of look at and say, we can get to the free-throw line even if the shots aren't going down, we can trust Trayce if we need something late in the possession?
COACH MILLER: Yeah, I think we've got to get better at feeding the post, and I think we've got to get better at doing that. He's got to get better in general, I kind of say this, of demanding the ball, carving it out, finding different angles.

We've got to be able to get him the ball when he's open. The same with Joey and De'Ron and those guys. But I've always said this with this team, I don't care how many 3s we shoot, the percentage matters. Taking good shots, the percentage matters.

But we're not going to win game after game after game by shooting 3s. We're going to win games by not turning it over. We're going to win games by drawing fouls, And we're going to and win games by rebounding, period.

And shots will go down when the good shooters shoot them and they're quality shots. I think in the first half most of our shots were good.

The second half you can probably look at a few of those shots, it wasn't a good shot, that's probably why it didn't go in. We got to the foul line because I think that's our strength. We have strong players. We have some guys that can play inside/out.

I thought Justin could have got a few more free throws maybe in the second half, but he was good around the basket.

But when the ball sticks and it's dribbled, that's a nightmare for this team. This team, the less this team dribbles, the better off this team's going be. The more this team moves and shares the ball and runs hard and posts hard and plays freely, that team has a chance to be pretty good.

But when you dribble -- and there's one guy dribbling on this team more than one or two times, I can just tell you it's not going to go well for this group. And they know that. And by evidence of how we played in the second half, the ball didn't move enough.

And we were fortunate to be bailed out by some rebounds and some fouls and some free throws, where the game could have really been chewed down into a workable margin for La Tech. At one point, I think we had a 23-point lead in the first half with eight to go. And a team at home, up 23-8, gotta find a way to put that nail in the coffin at some point. We didn't do it tonight.

I'm not even talking about the defense yet. Gave up 10 made 3s. We could get a whole other ballgame. But like I said, we're past the days critiquing wins and losses. We won the game. Let's find a way to get better and clean that up.

And we have another opportunity on Saturday against South Dakota State who has been to a number of places already. Watched them play Arizona a little bit last week. They were great in that game. And eventually, as we told the guys, we have to put together a full 40 on both ends of the floor.

Q. Rob was out tonight. Is that related to that hit he had last week?
COACH MILLER: It's related to a lot. He's got a rib issue, an abdominal. He took a shot in the face last game, and hasn't practiced since, doing better. We're hoping maybe by the middle of this week, Wednesday or Thursday he's back with us here on the court. If that's not the case we'll keep going with it.

He's just had one of those unique runs, man, where he's missed games not for one issue; he's missed games on a number of issues. It's not his time right now. Like I told him after the game, grab five Advil, get a piece of tape and tape them all over your body because maybe that's the only thing we can do is tape it to him and he can absorb it, I don't know.

But big picture-wise Armaan's getting some runs. Jerome and Damezi obviously gotta play a little more. And I think you can see a stabilizing force being needed at times with our team on both ends of the floor, and that's what he is.

We've got to get him back. He has to get back when he's healthy. To be honest with you, he's probably practiced on a handful of times fully back-to-back days all year. So we'll hopefully get him back mid-week, kind of working him back into the fray here.

But as we end November, we really haven't been able to get him on two feet onto solid ground. Hopefully, like I said, hopefully middle of this week we get him back into some stuff.

Q. Wanted to ask about the defense. You mentioned the 3s, I think they ended up with 34 in the paint. All around what kind of breakdowns did you see, and are you concerned with what you're getting on that end?
COACH MILLER: I think for the most part the first half we did some good things. They're a talented offensive team. They have a lot of guys that can score it and they space the floor really well.

We forced, I think, 10 turnovers in the first half. There were some good things there. They did make six 3s in the first half, which wasn't that good. Our offense carried us. Defensively in the second half I think we played out of -- we let one thing affect the other. We definitely let our offense and our lack of taking care of it and maybe some of our frustration, we let that carry over to some sloppy transition defense, not communicating, some easy breakdowns and whatnot.

But sometimes that happens and you have to find a way to make one thing a strength. The one thing that's not a strength, if you're asking me through six games, is our defense. There are some things we've done well through six games, getting to the line, rebounding it. But one thing that we're not where we need to be, I don't think it's going to get there until we get hit in the mouth a few times, but we're not guarding and setting the tone for long stretches. You're seeing very few shot clock violations.

You're seeing very few long possessions by the other team. You're seeing quick shots in transition. You're seeing fouls. You're seeing drives that relate to 3s.

The way that we play, our team has to be a team that makes the other teamwork on offense to get a shot. And right now if you look at tempo and pace where our defense is compared to last year or a few years here, you want your efficiency defensively in terms of time of possession of your opponent to be in the 300s. And I don't think we're even close to that right now.

That just shows you right now there's enough breakdowns early in possessions, early in transition that we're not tough enough and strong enough to get the other team to their second side or third side. That's where we're at right now. We're like get back, let's try to guard the first side. We're not anywhere near a Big Ten team on defense right now.

And do I think we can get there? Yeah, there's some experience things we've got to get done. Rob helps that cause a lot with another guard in the back court. But we can get there and we're going to get there. It's just going to take some time. And we've got to keep obviously pushing it. It's something we're obviously very aware of right now.

Q. We saw in the first 20 minutes just what is capable offensively, are you seeing longer stretches in practice and in the state of the game just the light coming on for guys in terms of offense and moving the ball?
COACH MILLER: Yeah, I think it's something that obviously we've worked very hard on in terms of the tempo of how we're playing, the emphasis on certain guys and their roles, what we're trying to get them to do. I clearly think our running game is better right now than it's been. I think guys are running hard. I think our guards are doing a good job pushing it, and our bigs are running pretty well especially early in the game. And we're getting fouled. That's obviously good.

Ball movement is something we stress and we move. We've been post trapped here recently. So sometimes they try and take us out of rhythm there. When we move the ball and share it and we screen and we've got a lot of guys working together, we can be pretty good on offense. I think when the right guys take the 3s, those are going to be the guys that make them.

That's what we had going on in the first half, I thought. The second half, we were very stagnant and just turnovers just killed us. So that wasn't very good. But this team is built, like I said, it's very simple. Run hard. Play a lot of guys, share the ball. Get the ball moving. Conceptually you've got to work inside/out obviously. But you're trying to be as aggressive as you possibly can to get to the foul line because I think that's where our strength is in offensive rebounding. But it's not to shoot a ton of 3s. I think the first half, the 3s we took out of zone or transition were good. Second half I don't think we took very many. Maybe six. But our rhythm on offense in the second half wasn't very good.

But I think as you look at our team, offensively, would people be surprised that we're able to score, I think we have a lot of different type of guys that can contribute. Doesn't mean every guy every night is going to score 12, but it doesn't surprise me that there's different guys in the box score able to score. We have a lot of guys. But that's definitely something taken care of but it's something tonight that really stood out.

Q. You talked about specific measures for the defense. Do you present that to those guys in terms of saying --
COACH MILLER: Obviously we have our goals. They're not going to understand what defensive time of possession is, but like if you study the game and you study teams that don't pressure, deny or press, and they're more half-court-oriented or more pack-oriented your time of possession will go up.

If you look at the Virginias of the world and the teams, the Wisconsins of the world, the teams that make you work, who pack their paint and use their size, you'll be in .300s in times of possession. I think in our time here, even last year, I think we were in .300s. I'm not sure where year one we got, Dayton, late in the year should have been .300s. But you're making that team work. That team has to work to get a shot.

Right now I don't think the teams are having to work to get a great shot. I think they'll take an early one in the possession because they're not good enough on the initial stuff and that's something that it's obviously got to change. And it can. I think it will, because obviously we have a group that's working pretty hard at it.

But we have a lot of new guys in there, too. I think that's the other thing that's very unique. You have a lot of different combinations of players in there. And you have some first-year guys, first-year guys in the program out there with another first-year guy. You've got a lot of inexperience playing together.

So I think over the course of time, obviously we're getting better from game one. Are we where we need to be? No. But we need to get there a little bit quicker.

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