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January 11, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 66, Ohio State - 54

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, just a great environment. When Simon Scott Assembly Hall is on fire, it's just really hard to put weight on that. Our guys gave them something to cheer about, though, today. They played hard. Played very together. Played against obviously not only a well-coached team but an excellent team that has a chance to -- obviously we think has all the pieces of a deep run in March, and those guys are going to find their way back. This league is just too impossible to go through and not have some ups and downs, but for our guys, I thought we got our head out of the mud after Wednesday. We were fortunate to win Wednesday, but we got our attitude, we got our heads together and guys were ready to go today. We had probably as good of a defensive game as we've played overall if you look at the numbers. We did some really good things there. I thought they made threes in the first half, and we missed free throws. It's a big difference. Obviously the free-throw line is so important to us, and we didn't take care of business making them or our offense would have been a lot more efficient.

But it's tough to score on Ohio State. They have one of the best defenses in the country. We knew it was going to be very difficult to score. But I thought, it always comes down at the end of the day, to play and beat the best, you've got to have guard play, and I thought today we had very good guard play. Rob Phinisee got us going. He was good on both ends of the floor, and then Devonte Green was really good, as well, so you had two guys in the backcourt play today the right way, made guys better, and you know, at the end of the day, that's how you're going to have to do it, by committee, and really proud of our guys in a big-time environment to get it done, and like I told them, you're on to the next one, which is going to be just as hard if not harder, and obviously we haven't been very good on the road. We're going to have to try and get ourselves in gear and ready to go. It's a long, long grind.

Q. You talked about the defense being a lot better today. What specifically did you like the most? Why do you think you guys were this good defensively?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, our ball pressure and our guys up after the ball, five guys worked extremely hard on the ball. But for a minute there, I thought our positioning and where we were supposed to be, our tightness, our principles were intact a little bit. Bigs did a great job for the most part in the game, really impacting the ball the best they could. I thought our guards did a decent job.

But when you play against Ohio State, it comes down to one thing. You get manhandled. You get manhandled when you play them. You've got to deal with big Kaleb, who's just a load in there. Can you get away with playing him one-on-one and not give up threes? And I thought our big guys hung in pretty tough. Really disappointed for the most part in our guys being able to rebound clean balls. We weren't very good on the glass today, which is something that we've been good at. We've been preaching and pleading with our perimeter guys to rebound and help. We ended up getting seven by Rob, three by Al, Devonte ends up getting four, and Armon, who didn't play as many minutes, obviously, wasn't involved. But we're trying to get 12 plus by these guards to find a way to help out and get cleaner rebounds, and you're able to get 15 or 14. That's a big number for us.

But we were able to hang in there, and I thought the free-throw line obviously, we did a good job getting there. If you make some more, maybe you make it a little easier. But we'll take it anyway we can get it. That was a hard game. It was a great venue to play in today with our crowd. I thought our fans were amazing.

Q. Devonte had a rough outing against Northwestern. What kind of conversations did you have with him and why was he such a different play coming in today do you think?
ARCHIE MILLER: I thought he got recommitted to doing things the right way every day. It's not about game day. We just talked about it the other day, you can't practice soft and play hard. You can't practice soft and play hard. And I thought for a competitive guy, for a guy that has a lot of pride in being a good player, I thought he'd taken a notch down on his daily approach to how competitive he is, and his game in general, just playing more freely but also having a real concerted effort to be unselfish and pass and get guys going.

That was the conversation. He did a really good job yesterday in practice. He did a really good job today, and then we just wake up tomorrow and hopefully we're going to see him do a good job tomorrow because it is what it is. Because I'll tell you, when he plays well, we're a different team.

Q. You've talked a lot the last couple games about just getting more on-ball pressure from the guards. It seemed like it's helped spur a lot of the defensive effort throughout everybody because it made it harder to get the ball in to Kaleb. Was the total package kind of what you wanted out of the defense today?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think so. Phinisee, big deal. Rob Phinisee being in the game and being ready to go and looking like he did today, that's a big deal for us.

I think we were 14 out of 14 Big Ten teams coming into this fifth Big Ten game and forcing turnovers and steals. We've never had a defense like that, and you can attribute it to A, you're playing bigger guys -- always comes down to your guards setting the tone, and Rob sets the tone for us. He had four steals today. We had 11 steals and four blocks, 15 deflections on the stats sheet. That's a great number. That's an active defense.

Without question, without looking at the game film, could we have probably done some things better, but I thought guys just played hard. That was good to see.

Q. A couple big early threes is important from anybody, but to have it come from Rob, was that an extra boost to the whole team to see that right off the bat? And what can you tell us, is he going to have to battle through this abdominal thing for a while?
ARCHIE MILLER: You ruined the question. (Laughter).

The first part of the question was he definitely gave us a shot in the arm to start the day. Perimeter fire power, perimeter shooting is something that obviously hasn't been consistent, and we knew in the post it was going to maybe be a crowded floor. You're going to get a double. Those guys got to be ready on those inside-outs because our bigs will kick it out, and Rob to start the game I thought took a big air out of the building for our team with making those shots. I have no idea what happened to him. He wasn't comfortable at the end of the game. I'm not real sure. Hopefully he's okay.

Q. 31 bench points today compared to five against Northwestern. I know Devonte was kind of part of that, but your thoughts on maybe some of the other contributors, as well, and getting a little more after the Northwestern game?
ARCHIE MILLER: Everybody who played in this game did a good job. Obviously Devonte coming off the bench changes things for us. I personally feel like it doesn't matter if you start the game. I know publicly and privately and individually that stuff goes a long way, but as a coach I look for finishers, and when he comes in the game, it's a little different feeling coming off the bench having in my opinion a guy that can maybe be your most dynamic player. So that's a big deal for us, as we've searched for punch off the bench or rotation, one thing we've missed coming into the game having a guy be aggressive. So that helped.

But I will tell you that Race Thompson made good plays in this game, I will tell you that De'Ron played key minutes in this game, Armon although didn't play as many minutes, it's going to happen to a young guy. He's got to be ready next game to play a lot of minutes, whoever it might be.

But Jerome Hunter played the best game of his college career, and he gave the best minutes all season long at that wing position I think that we've had that was able to give Justin a break, move Justin alongside with two bigs with foul trouble. Jerome impacted the game in a real positive way, in particular defensively. But he's big, he's physical, he's going to get more confident, get more rhythm. The guy has really had to teach himself how to play basketball again, but I thought his minutes were good. But everybody who played in the game had a positive impact for the most part, and it was just a good team win. You're not going to beat a team like that without a lot of guys contributing.

Q. Kind of playing off of that a little bit, Wednesday night you suggested the possibility that you might shorten the rotation. Is that something you communicated to these guys, and do you think this was kind of the response to that, that hey, if you don't step up, you could lose your time?
ARCHIE MILLER: I told the team after Northwestern I'll play five guys the whole game, it's just got to be the right five. Strength in numbers and all the stuff that we've tried to embody all season, at some point in time productivity, attitude, commitment, effort, all those things can't be in question when you're in the game. And I thought we had great workouts afterwards, and I thought guys were dialed in and ready. Damezi Anderson is sick. He's been sick since the Northwestern game, during and after, and wasn't available tonight, so it put it at 10. But we played all 10, and I feel like when Damezi comes back he'll play, too. But without question when guys are playing well and playing hard they're going to stay in, and if you want to get in the game, when you come in, get it done. And sometimes your getting it done isn't shooting, sometimes your getting it done is what Jerome did today. Played really hard and gave us great minutes where we felt confident with him out there, and hopefully it spearheads what we're doing because we have a chance I think if we're at our best and maxing out our stuff, I think this team has a chance to be a really good team, especially as we continue to prove defensively and as the season goes, you keep working through your offensive kinks.

He made some free throws today against a really good defensive team. You're in the 70s; I don't know how many times Ohio State has given up 70 this season. We missed 16 foul shots. And some of our best shooters are at the foul line. So like offensively 11 turnovers and being able to be that efficient, we did some good things today.

I'm happy for our team, though, man. Sometimes, man, in this league it just becomes such a slugfest you need a jolt of energy. We got a good jolt of energy. Now you've got to have some humility and figure out a way to go on the road and compete against Rutgers, I think, Wednesday, and find a way to be -- it's going to be 50 times harder than it was, and each game that goes by is going to be 50 times harder than that one. We've just got to keep raising our level of intensity and we've got to stay with it, and I think this team has a chance. We've got a great group, and I'm happy for them to be able to win today, but we've got to keep progressing.

Q. You moved Rob into the starting lineup today and he made those three threes pretty quickly. Did you encourage him to look for his shot more, or did it just develop for him, and how critical is he to this team reaching its potential offensively?
ARCHIE MILLER: I told him last night, go in there and do what you do. Stop worrying about everything. I think he's tried to get his rhythm back. Over the course of the season he hasn't had it. I looked at Wednesday night as an opportunity to bring some toughness to the floor defensively, which we need. That more than anything, especially at home, getting off to a good start at home and being able to defend and get stops and not giving a team confidence. I felt like that was what Rob was going to do, but I also told him you've got to be ready to roll, man. Do what you do, play your best, and he went out and played a good game.

Rob is a good shooter, but Rob is also a guy that thinks a lot, so you don't want guys to be thinking out there, and the first one that went in, I was like, ooh, big stretch of confidence for us.

But if you envision our team and you hope you're at your best, you see Rob Phinisee like he was today. Not that he's going to be like that every game, but when you think about Indiana and you think Rob Phinisee, today is what you think about. Great effort defensively, a point guard with the ball, making hard plays, big shots. That's what he's about. Hopefully this is something that he can continue to be consistent with because he's a key deal in the Big Ten.

Q. You talked about Jerome building confidence and the fact that he hasn't had a lot of reps. It feels like he's still trying to find himself out there in some ways. Have you seen him become more comfortable recently, and is that something you've talked to him about just kind of sticking with things?
ARCHIE MILLER: Always talking to him about sticking with things, like all of our guys. But Jerome is such a -- he loves basketball, and he's a very competitive guy, and he's a team guy. And he's a true freshman, whether he wants to admit it or not. He didn't take one rep in practice last year. So as you watch him out there, everyone is like, all right, we've got Jerome. Well, Jerome didn't play or practice for a whole year. And then when you come off the bench and trying to figure out how to impact the team, in his mind it's offense, it's offense. You've got to get younger players and guys that are new to the game to understand you impact the game so much more defensively as a young guy because when you screw up on defense, you come out. You don't have that rope.

Today he was playing hard. He was ready. He was competing. As he plays more minutes, my hope would be that you see the guy that was at the foul line making shots, becomes a little bit more comfortable from three. But he's physical, and he gives us another guy in there that as he gets more confidence, he's going to be a good player for us. He doesn't understand why he's got a tight rope, but he's got to understand like stay out of the way on offense and make sure you're guarding your butt off, and the longer you play, then your offense will start to get a little bit easier for you. But he was a big difference maker for us in this game just by playing the 18, 19 minutes because we had foul trouble inside, Justin had to move around, maybe Justin needed a blow, wasn't playing well. He held serve on defense more than he did on offense, but he made some good plays for us. So I think the one thing about Jerome is hopefully this is a confidence booster for him on I'm out there, feels good to be out there, I don't have to shoot it when I catch it, and it's not a big deal to have to take and score baskets. It's good to win and play.

Q. Our sources tell us when it comes to chewing gum, you're a fan of arctic grape and black cherry. Can you tell us which one you went with today, what was the decision making process, and will you go with that gum exclusively for the rest of the season?
ARCHIE MILLER: It is the most fantastic gum that has ever been made. They have all these flavors, and they're in this plastic thing that you can open up and just dump in your mouth. The black cherry was my go-to for a long time, but grape was the flavor of the day here today. I think I had grape the last time that we had played well at home where I felt we played well, so I went with grape and I stuck with it, and without question grape is now the go-to as we move forward. If you like gum -- man.

Q. Joey Brunk on Kaleb Wesson, how did you like what he did today?
ARCHIE MILLER: I thought he played hard, and for the first time that we've ever played Ohio State, we were able to hold serve one-on-one. He has mauled us for two years. Their team has mauled us for two years, really in general from a physicality standpoint, being able to run offense, rebound, score. But he is such a physical presence that like if you have to bring everything in the kitchen sink at him, you let those other guys shoot, and our deal today was obviously we wanted to try to help and give crowds, but hey, man, you're going to have to play really hard and give him some different looks, you're on your own. I thought Joey battled. I thought he played really, really hard. Kaleb is tough now because he can shoot, too, and like now he's putting you in highball screens. It's a hard game for any big guy to guard.

I thought Joey did a great job, I thought De'Ron had his moments when he was in there, Trayce and Race were also hanging, but this is the first time in general, and as I say that, as I look at his line, he goes for 11 and 10 in a Big Ten road game with three offensive rebounds, and misses a couple free throws. When you're dealing with him, man, you're on an island at times because their other players are spaced and they do a good job. It's not like you can just take one guy and put him in the middle of the paint to help. But for the first time that we've ever played them, we had good post defense that was able to hang in for the most part.

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