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January 17, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

HEAD COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Their players, as much as anything, sometimes when you're in Big Ten play, you really know the system or the players or what they do. You know, really in, watching them here recently, and then watching our first game, they are very, very dangerous. Fred has unbelievable spacing and pace to his offense, and they keep that paint wide open. They are hard to guard. Mack is one of the probably more unsung point guards in college basketball in terms of what he does for his team. He is a blur off the bounce and he's a fantastic passer. When they are successful, he pretty much dominates the game with his production in terms of not only creating shots for others but also his own offense.

When you mix in the three-point shooting with Burke, with Thor Benson, you mix in both of their young fives who can pick-and-pop a little bit, the guys off the bench, they are very dangerous, and in particular at home, they are going to play with a lot more confidence. You know, obviously at home and shooting the ball etc., but they were very confident in here I guess about a month ago.

So they have our attention. They have our ultimate respect. In our first game we did a lot of good things, being able to rebound and draw fouls. Played with some pace, but you know, we weren't good enough defensively by any stretch, and coming off of that game and now going into the second time, we're going to have to be much, much better defensively in terms of how we defended the ball and getting back, etc. I think they made 12 threes or whatnot, Burke had 25. But they have got good players. Cheatham is a very difficult cover. Mack is a very difficult cover; Burke. Those guys are talented and when they get going, they are good, and obviously they have had success at home with big wins against Purdue and Iowa, and watching them come back against Northwestern and play Ohio State the other day, it will be as difficult a game.

Nebraska has one of the best home courts in the league. Very, very concerning game, but we have played them one time, so we have some familiarity. They did a lot of things in Game 1 that put a lot of problems on our plate.

Q. One player had a really good game against Nebraska, Trayce. He's had some struggles here of late. How do you think he's handled those and what can you do to get him more involved, do you think?
HEAD COACH ARCHIE MILLER: He's a young player who is going through a normal progression of the Big Ten schedule. He's not an average freshman that's asked to come in the game and give you a role and give you spot minutes.

Talking to Trayce, one thing I think young guys have to understand, especially at this time of year, is you're a player now. Not only are you a player for our team but you're a player on the other coach's mind; what do you do to stop him and what do you do to keep him from doing this and what do you do to keep Jackson Davis from doing this because he's so impactful for our team.

You know, he leads us in scoring, rebounding, free throw attempts, free throw makes, blocked shots. He's a good player. I just think young guys get caught up sometimes in like, it's not going well for me right now, I'm a little down, I didn't make any baskets, we lost, blah, blah, blah. It's hard for a young guy to maybe realize sometimes the value that he has for your team not scoring, but just the value he adds to our team when he's himself.

To me, we've got to get Trayce back to being himself. Starts with his every day habits. Continuing to work to get better, but make no mistake, he's one of best players in this league overall, not as a freshman, and he's an important part to what we do. When you're an important part to what we do, you have to be there, mind, body, mentality, the whole deal. Doesn't have to be scoring a bunch of points, but don't give yourself out, so to speak, of what you can't do or what you're not doing.

It's always about what you can do and trying to bring that to his mind right now and refreshing him a little bit because he's had such a great year for us here to start, and he's got so much more ground he can cover. He's a big part of our success.

Q. A couple weeks ago on your radio show, you talked about three point shots and rhythm. After the Rutgers tape --
HEAD COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Some were in rhythm, some were horse shots; they are open. They are wide open. There are some, I think Rutgers had a great deal of pressure on us which sped the ball up and made our players speed up.

The 2 for 18 from the three or maybe up till the five minute mark had not hit one, there's some good ones in there. Our players have to, you know, take pride and continue to work on them, and we've got to continue as a staff to continue to get our guys good looks. You know, we have to be able to find a way, especially on the road, to be able to stick a few, because that's the key.

That's the key in being able to be consistent, especially playing in this league on the road. You're going to have to be able to make some shots, or a guy is going to have to have one of those nights that maybe we've had at home, on the road. Every team has it. Every team's going through it. Every team finds a way to find the opportunity to play to win on the road and have a chance to win, and part of it is you have to be able to make some open ones because it's so tough, especially in the paint in the Big Ten. It's just very, very difficult.

The other night was as difficult of a game as I've been in in terms of around the basket, there's nothing easy, you had to find a way to make a few of those open ones. The more you talk about it, the more it becomes a thing, and players play.

If you watch the film with the team and kind of look at some of the things that we did well, if the shot goes in, everyone says, wow, good play or nice pass. Didn't go in. We've got to make sure that we continue to bring the right reads to their deal and keep making them, and eventually at some point in time, you have great faith in your guys and their belief in themselves, and they will make some.

Q. You talked about dealing with double teams and the extra attention that comes with success. What's the balance you strike with a young guy, maybe wanting to work in some layers of, hey, here is how you take the next step and here is how you go to the next level of beating a double-team without inundating him that much that he starts to freeze or over think?
HEAD COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Good point. So much with these guys is keeping thing simple and making sure they feel good and they are aggressive. Obviously as things come their way, or what teams are trying to do or what this game is going to be about for you individually, you want to bring that to the table. But the more you talk and the more you sort of information overload, the more it just becomes not about being yourself; being a player.

Trayce and I had a about talk last night, and you know, the bottom line is, players continue to evolve as the season goes. Sometimes they have their ruts. Sometimes good players go through a couple games. But the best players always find a way to bring it on the biggest nights, and we need Trayce to bring it on the biggest night and that biggest night will be Saturday for him. He's got to be aggressive. He's got to do the things.

If you watch our first time we played against Nebraska, his effort level, his activity level, what he was able to do in that game, it didn't come from me. It came from his ability to play hard and run and play to win and be aggressive and not worry about, "I missed a shot" or "are they double-teaming me." It doesn't matter.

He always plays to win. That's the great thing about him, and he cares a great deal about playing to win and us winning, and that means something to him. He adds a lot of value to our locker room and to the deal with who he is. But you never want to see a guy go through the dumps and let it carry over, and I don't think he'll do that.

Q. Following up on that, what happened in that conversations last night?
HEAD COACH ARCHIE MILLER: I'm not talking about that.

Q. And you talked also about just emphasizing the value that he has to the team, how have you emphasized that to him without overloading?
HEAD COACH ARCHIE MILLER: I think at the end of the day, as you go through the course of the year, sometimes as a coach and sometimes as a player, it becomes a long year and you start to forget about all the ways that you were successful, you have been successful and sometimes you're kind of living in the moment and you forget. I think you want Trayce to really understand that in our wins and in our losses, he plays a big role. Not because of the play that we call or anything, but because of his winning attitude and his effort level and the things that he brings to the table that I can't teach him.

Don't ever lose that, you know, because that's what makes you who you are. That's what shows out there when you're at your best. We'll keep working on the other things and we'll keep working to get better on the little things, but if you are going to settle and say, this is where I'm at right now and I'm struggling; if you're going to settle, I'll stop playing you as many minutes.

At the end of the day, he can't settle for anything other than his best, and when he does that, at the end of the day, he's going to be successful. We'll keep working to be better and he's got to continue to get better, but he's got so much ability and he's got so much talent that when he's engaged, he just impacts the game a lot of different ways.

That's the thing that he's got to focus on and our team in general, all of our players have to focus on. I think we're 13-4, and we're in the midst of a grueling league, and in 17 games, there's a lot of information. If you just kind of go from day one to where you're at right now and you think back to where you started, man, have you done a lot of good things. There's a lot of players done a lot of good things.

Right now, like every team, you're trying to find a way to navigate a mountain, and to do it, each player has got to find a way to be a little bit better. Each coach has got to find a way to be a little bit better. It's about right now, and don't lose the faith in all that stuff that you've done. Doesn't play a role, but right now, it's about where are we at, how do we continue to get better. Don't lose sight of all the great things that you've done and that you do for our team. Each player is the same, but you don't want to dwell. You want to improve, and I think that's part of it. You know, keep it simple, but got to improve and keep working.

Saturday is going to be a heck of a night. It's an unbelievable place to play, and just like it was on Wednesday. I mean, that's why you play. When you're in those games, man, that's where you earn your stripes. You know, you as a coach are looking forward to watching your players sort of realize, you know, that when they do cross the finish line and you win the game, you know, man, I worked really hard for this. See, you put in the work. It happened. We've just got to stay with it.

Hopefully that answered the question.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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