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January 10, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH MILLER: I mean, like I think every coach right now, you're just putting your head down, and you're trying not to get overwhelmed with what our league has become this year. Ohio State is without question a Final Four caliber team and a team that has aspirations to do a lot of big things within our conference. They have the premier low post physical presence in the country. I don't think there's another big guy in college basketball that commands as much attention as Kaleb Wesson, and obviously those guys do an unbelievable job of spacing around him with great players, good shooters, and they get him the ball in a variety of ways. And he just puts so much pressure on you inside. But Ohio State, you know, like their teams before, and the staff does a great job of preparing them. They play as hard as anybody. They're as physical as anybody, and they win with defense and toughness as much as they do with anything else. And we're going to have to really be ready to go. We're going to play a very cornered team, a team with like I said a lot of togetherness, a team that's playing with good purpose. And to me this game tomorrow is going to be as hard as any we play. I think they're as good as anybody in the country and they're set up to have a great season and do some special things. And to play them on a Saturday afternoon in Simon Skjodt. That's what college basketball has been about, the BIG TEN, and hopefully our guys are excited and ready to go.

Q. Coach, you alluded to Wesson. How do you balance dealing with him versus Ohio State on the perimeter? I know they've been slumping recently, but early in the season they had a pretty strong stretch of basketball.
COACH MILLER: Yeah, they won't slump against us. That's the way you have to think about it. They're very dangerous but you have to pick and choose what you're going to do. Obviously he's a singular force. Doesn't matter when we've played him. I think right now obviously he's in great condition, and he looks fantastic, but his ability to stay in the game is a key for them. His ability to put the pressure that he does on the other team's front court is key. But like you said, you gotta balance with really good perimeter shooting and good guard play, and great spacing around him. So you have to play hard, man. I mean you're not going to be perfect. You gotta find a way to not get buried in there. You have to find a way to have great positioning off the ball. But you're not going to hold him scoreless and you're going to have the pressure of the passers and do some things like that, but it's going to come down to playing extremely hard, and it's going to come down to playing through mistakes. I mean you're going to have to cover some things up, and when they do miss, you better get the rebound because you don't want to guard them twice. And you're going to have to be tough in the paint, you're going to have to be really, really physically tough and disciplined in the pain. Things are going to be hard in there around the basket. And just in watching their games, it's just amazing to me the physicality that the games are played with. It's amazing to me how much attention that Kaleb draws and just the physicality of the games that he plays in, it's just amazing to me that it's basketball at some point in time. You feel like you're watching -- you feel like you're watching WWF sometimes in there. It just doesn't make any sense. But like you said, we're going to have to work hard, and we're going to have to be dialed in. Our perimeter guys are going to have to do a really good job. We're going to have to use everybody at their disposal, and our front court is going to have to do a pretty good job, in my opinion, playing hard without fouling. That's a difficult task you have there. There's just so much contact in the game, what are they calling, what aren't they calling, but you gotta do a great job of playing disciplined and giving different looks and trying to keep the catches tough. It's difficult. We're not the only one that's going to have that problem when we play them.

Q. Some uncertainty with Kyle Young? How do you game plan for that?
COACH MILLER: We'll prepare for him to play. I mean you just prepare for him being in there. He's a warrior; he's a winner. He's obviously a very, very key cog in their team. His physicality, his toughness on the boards helps them win. He makes them go. Defensively, he can really, really play, and he does a lot of big-time things for those guys, so not having them is obviously a downer for them, but once he gets back, hopefully he's healthy for their team's sake. But we'll prepare for him to play. If he doesn't play, it changes some things just in the lineups for the game, but we'll prepare for him to play.

Q. You did a little more full-court pressure towards the end of the game Wednesday night that kind of helped turn things around a little bit. Does doing more of that help these guys get engaged on both ends of the court or is that just a coincidence from the other night?
COACH MILLER: No. I think so. I think it's a good point. I think once you start to set the tone that you're going to pick up pressure and you're going to pull it full court, that it hopefully engages your guys understand, like we gotta get up and we're going to play 94 feet, we're going to play hard. Your guards have gotta play a little bit harder on the ball, and I definitely think that it helped us the other night, it picked up our pressure. Things weren't as easy, and I think it's a team that has the ability to do that, and I think that maybe we can start to implement that a little bit more even when you're not down. I think we have some numbers and at times we want to pick up and maybe apply some more pressure to disruption, whether it's full-court inbound or timing or whatever at buzz. It's something that we went through. It's something our staff has talked about adding more to it. Did a little bit at Maryland as well when we were down, but I don't think you have to do it just because you're down. I mean we start to implement that in the first half a little bit more. I don't know if it'll present itself tomorrow, but it's something without question was beneficial the other night. It created a stir, got us going a little bit. And hopefully that's a trigger that when we're doing it, it's a trigger to get our guys engaged more about defensively getting after it a little bit.

Q. Kind of a broader question. I know you're only four games in, but why do you think the BIG TEN, I mean it's incredibly skewed to home teams right now in terms of the win-loss record and the net rankings, there's kind of this compression of a lot of teams kind of right there in the Top 50, Top 60. What is it about the conference as you look at it early in the year that just kind of makes it develop this dynamic where it feels like there are a lot of teams kind of bunched right together?
COACH MILLER: The depth is scary. The depth is scary in our league. It's a 14-team league, and all 14 teams have fantastic coaches. Some teams are maybe a little bit younger or restarting. But when you start to look at the veteran players in the league and you start to look from top to bottom, you know, these guys have now been through the league a few years. You're starting to see teams that can advance in the NCAA Tournament that, quite frankly, could be a 10 seed in your conference tournament. I mean it's a very scary league when it comes to the depth of the league in terms of how many teams in our conference are fighting for the same things.

The nonconference slate that we've all played has given everyone a chance in the league to play against somebody with an unbelievable resumé every night. And your conference record in our league in my opinion should not penalize you at all. The quality of the games that you're playing and the win-loss record is one thing, but the fact that you could garner so many wins in our league, whatever that number is, the quality of that win goes, you know, way up in terms of resumé building. And every league's good. I'm not here to talk about any other league because I'm not in them. But I just don't see the depth across college basketball that the BIG TEN has. It's unprecedented in terms of how many games every night the quality of the opponents going into the games are in.

And every win is just so crucial. It's so crucial. And you're going to have some teams struggle. You're going to lose a couple. I mean you're going to lose a couple on the road. You may lose a few more than a couple. But I don't think it's going to be uncharacteristic to see teams lose games in our league. And I think the national media will say what's wrong or boy they're on a two-game skid. I just don't think you can blink. You can't flinch. I think it's going to be a part of everyone's deal this year. If somebody runs through this league this year, they are really good. They're just really good, because there's not very many nights off. The home floors are so tough, coaching is good and players are good.

Q. You went with six guys in the comeback the other night. Is there where you kind of go with at the outset there, with those guys and go from there?
COACH MILLER: We're playing to win, and we gotta play with the guys that are doing the best job, and I felt like in that game, right around the ten-minute mark, eight-minute mark, there was a group that got going, and we rode it. That doesn't mean that's going to be the recipe for every game. But you gotta be dialed in right now. You gotta have a great attitude. You gotta be coachable. You're going to have to be about the right things when it's not your night. We've talked a lot about that with this team, and some nights we get off to a slow start or there's a good run and next thing you know something goes bad, what happened. Well, we can't really rely on that sometimes if it's not going well with certain guys. We're going to have to go with the guys that are playing well, and I think that's what happened the other night.

It may be a different group tomorrow. Hopefully we do have a group that plays well together tomorrow and we'll play with it. But I expect everybody on our team to have a good mindset. We had a good mindset today in practice we had good talks this morning, and the fact that we won the game on Wednesday night the way we won it obviously shows that there's some pride in group. And we just gotta figure out how to play more consistent basketball.

The turnovers are crucial right now for us in conference play. We're turning the ball over way too much in conference play and it's killing our offense. It's killing runs, it's killing leads. And then defensively we're going to have to really buckle down and get better and keep working at it.

Q. What lesson would you like -- would you have liked for your team to have taken from the Northwestern game, and following that up, what are some of the points of emphasis tomorrow?
COACH MILLER: I would say the biggest lesson for our team I hope that they took from the other night is that if you as an individual player are about anything other than winning, it's going to contaminate our locker room; it's going to contaminate our bench, and you're not going to play well. And if you have a group of guys that are a little funky, then you're in some trouble. And in this league the lesson would be you may get away with it one time at home; you may lose by 30 on the road. And I think with our team, I think you gotta have a real, real sense of awareness right now about how important your minds are, how important the commitment level is to what we're doing, and you can't have one guy sort of off kilter because if he gets in the game and he's not ready, things can change in a blink playing these really good teams.

So my hope is that we get our minds right, we start to focus in a little bit better and we start to have some of our leaders start to step up and communicate a little bit better and keep it, you know, keep it tight, stay focused right now. And it can happen with teams. I mean you lose a couple games, all of a sudden next thing you know you got some guys in the dumps or they're not confident. That hurts. But you can't ever go away from the commitment level to each other, and you can't go away from the process at hand which is working every day to get better. And it can't go away from that feeling of winning is the most important thing. I'd say that's the biggest lesson.

Moving forward, I think we gotta get some of our older guys to get better at that. You know, you can't always as a coach be on top of every guy. It turns them off. It's a little bit different when your teammates are on top of you when they need you to step up and play or they need you to be better or they need a guy in practice to kind of snap out of it. It can't always be the coach. Sometimes the players have to hold each other more accountable, and I think that's the thing we're trying to get our guys to do a little bit better job of. Thank you. See you guys in about 12 hours.

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