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January 26, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, really tough loss. I mean, one of the tougher losses I think you could probably imagine a locker room setting having for our group. Give Maryland a lot of credit, making a ton of plays all game long, especially in the second half after they got down, continuing to fight and make plays, big shots. Whatever it may have been, they answered the bell when they needed to.

I think the last 3:32 of the game, the last media segment as we came out, that's when you've got to be really, really tough minded. That's when you've got to really execute. That's when you've got to know time and score. That's when your communication has got to be at its finest. Little things that on Thursday night kind of went well didn't go well for us in that last 3:32.

A lot of learning can go on in that. There's a lot of situations in that last 3:32 that obviously we could have been a lot better. When our offense plays the way it did tonight in the sharing of the ball, the ball movement, to score 76 points and have 22 assists and only 6 turnovers at home and lose, it's a little bit befuddling. But the way that they played in the first half and the way that they shot, to be able to make 6 of 9 or 9 of whatever there early, they really had us on our heels.

I thought in the second half we did a much better job of establishing offense, inside-out, and then defensively we were able to finally get some stops. We built an eight-point lead, and we had our chances. Tonight's one of those ones you're going to think back on, and obviously it's going to really, really sting.

We had an unbelievable environment again. Disappointed for our fans that we weren't able to win the game, but I give Maryland some credit. Anthony Cowan is a senior guard who can make a lot of plays. He was very difficult to cover. The way that they're playing five out, their frontcourt players shooting three-point shots, the way that they shoot three-point shots. Jalen Smith is the center, and he goes 4 for 6. Ricky Lindo comes out of there and goes 1 for 1, and Donte Scott goes one. So when you look at it, their frontcourt made half their threes at the center position, in the power forward position, six made threes.

Our inability to get to the line against Maryland is another thing that's really perplexing for our team. We're a good team around the basket. We find a way to get fouled quite a bit. We shot 10 free throws here. I think we shot 12 the first time we played them. Again, they went to the line a ton with their dribble drives and our just inability to guard the ball. So the free-throw line was a little disappointing not being able to get there more.

We did enough to win the game. We also did enough to lose it there at the end.

Q. The press obviously was kind of a big turning point, the turnover on the press. You had some press break issues against Nebraska too. What do you see particularly in that area, and where do you need to see improvement going forward?
ARCHIE MILLER: Just time and scoring intelligence situations. We didn't have a problem inbounding the ball here tonight. We had our press break basically set up for their diamond press, trapped the first pass, zone, rotate, and executed perfectly. The ball came in. Trap was there. We had our outlets and got it right to the middle of the floor.

That's a first year player in Jerome, who's never in that situation, where he's just got to be strong with the ball, either bring it across half-court and tuck it, or he's just got to chin the ball and be strong with it. You're in a minute-some situation there. I just talked to him a little bit about it.

It's one of those things as a player you've got to go through, but to be able to throw it ahead to your big guy down the floor, it's about time and scoring in that situation, and that's part of getting better and learning. Not that that one play was the name of the game. It obviously was a big play, but there are a lot of big plays.

We had two major breakdowns, three major breakdowns defensively guarding Cowan on a three-point shot when we already had a stop and a lead. I think Jalen Smith, you know, at the end of the game on his last ball screen, you're relying on communication all game long on ball screens, and on the last one, we're indecisive on what we're doing. He rolls through the basket uncontested. So that's on us.

If you ever want to know as a player why the coach is always screaming about talking and communicating and you've got to do that, it's because it really matters when it means the most. This one stings. The other one on the night felt great. The week is what it is. We're on to the next one.

This league is brutal, and you have to be able to find ways to keep getting better, which I think, if you watched our team this week, or if you've watched our team over the last few weeks, we continue to do a better job, and we're getting better.

I was disappointed defensively in this game although they are very, very difficult to cover with what they're doing offensively. But we were better in the second half. Their percentage in the second half is at 40 percent from the floor and 25 from three. We're good percentages defensively, but they made some real hustle plays. I thought Jalen Smith was obviously a huge difference in the game on the offensive glass, his ability to shoot threes. And Anthony Cowan was really, really good in the game as well, very difficult cover, as quick as they come.

By the mere fact they only had five turnovers on the road in front of that environment kind of shows you their offense was running good. Our offense was doing also a decent job. We had a lot of guys contributing a lot of different ways. We shot it well, took care of it pretty well. But it's a game of inches. It comes down to a couple plays. You've got to be a little lucky, and you've got to be smart. I think we were probably a little less on those two here in the last couple minutes, or at least the last two minutes of the game.

Q. The last play of the game, you had Trayce going to the basket. Is that what you wanted, and what did you get on that play?
ARCHIE MILLER: Last play in the game, we tried to get Trayce and Rob in a two-man game in the middle of the floor, set Rob up for a drive downhill, set Trayce up for maybe a quick lob, pick-and-roll. They denied Rob the ball back, which he didn't fight the now, and Trayce kept it right from the nail, free-throw line area, all the way into the basket.

I asked, just thinking back on it, did he get a good enough look? Was it a clean look? Would you even feel good if he got that shot again? I think everybody said he had a decent look at it. It was a pretty point blank good look. He stepped around on the shot fake, stepped through, and he got a clean two point plank.

So we got a shot. It didn't obviously go down, but that's the way it breaks.

Q. Kind of touch on it a couple different ways -- forgive asking in a loaded way -- did it feel like, yes, there were moments when you could have kind of -- really kind of landed one on them, maybe up seven, up eight down the stretch? What were they doing that was kind of keeping them in touch with the game?
ARCHIE MILLER: I would say there were probably three or four occasions when you made a big shot. I think Jerome may have made a big shot or maybe Devonte hit a big shot on the right wing that you go up six, seven, eight points. I thought that they kept coming back and either getting fouled to the foul line or timely shot. Cowan makes a three behind a handoff. Jalen Smith makes a three behind a handoff, getting to the line and keeping it there.

I thought one key possession, I think Al had a right wing shot, which would have blown the top off the arena, and it was a good look. He missed it, but they get an and one down on the other end, and it was another huge play. Our inability to be up about seven or eight, maybe he makes it or maybe he doesn't, but to get an and one to cut it from seven or eight to five or four, two-possession game, that was a big play going down to the other end.

There was a lot of big plays. I thought we made some. I thought they clearly made some really good ones. But I thought that Cowan and Smith were the difference probably in a lot of those situations. Their two guys really played well.

THE MODERATOR: Jerome kind of broke out with three-pointers. Just how big is that for you moving forward that he might be starting to get back his basketball instincts?

ARCHIE MILLER: He's starting to look the part. His legs look stronger. I think, if you just watch him right now, he has a much better bounce about him on the floor than he's had. It's taken him a while to get to this point, but like I said before, a guy takes a year off from injury, it's difficult, especially a true freshman that never played.

Now he's playing, and he's playing more and more, which is a big thing for our team. He's added value in a lot of ways. He's doing a better job defensively. He ends up getting double figures here tonight but made three big shots, but that's what he can do. He can add some offensive firepower.

He's got to take good ones and be smart, but you're looking -- there's no difference between him and Trayce. They've played the same amount of games in their career. They've played the same amount of minutes. So it's a young guy out there that's showing, I think, he's starting to get his basketball legs back, and he's starting to feel good again about playing the game.

Q. You just mentioned the defense getting a lot better in the second half. What did change basically, especially early in the first 14 minutes of the second half, when you guys were holding them to 15 or 16, whatever it was? What was better about the plan you guys had there?
ARCHIE MILLER: We moved, to start the second half, Joey off of Jalen and moved -- if I'm not mistaken, Joey off of Jalen Smith and then moved, I think, Trayce onto him. We wanted a more mobile guy in the ball screen to not get as stretched, maybe a better cover on the three line, because they weren't setting as many ball screens obviously with Scott, but they missed a couple. At some point you hope the water sort of gets a little bit level. I mean, they started the game basically making their first four. They may have made at least six out of their first eight three-pointers.

The good thing was in the first half our offense wasn't terrible, so we were still in a working margin. But they missed -- they didn't get as many clean ones off dribble drives. We tried to make them earn some more twos, and then we started to get some defensive rebounding, but our offense was good to start the second half. We scored pretty much -- man, zone didn't matter. We were able to score the ball.

Disappointed obviously. This will be one, give them credit for, but this is one you're going to wish you could have those last couple minutes back. But that's the way the game breaks, and that's life, so to speak, in this league.

As you head towards February, you've got to continue to stay focused, and you can't get too high and low. As good as it felt on Thursday, it probably feels this bad, but you probably could have felt this way on Thursday, and you probably could have felt this good on Sunday. That's what it is.

We're off to Penn State. They've had a week off. I think Ohio State will get a week off before we play them. So we'll probably -- maybe everybody gets a week off before we walk in the door. Maybe that's the scheduling philosophy.

Q. Coach, I apologize for the drastic shift here. I'm sure you've heard the news by now of Kobe's passing. If I could get your reaction. Obviously, a devastating day for basketball as a whole.
ARCHIE MILLER: I mean, I just heard 30 seconds before I walked in here, and I'll be honest with you, as sick as I am about the game, I have no idea who was on the helicopter with him, if it was family or whatnot, but I know Kobe Bryant. He was a year older than me in high school. He grew up in the state of Pennsylvania. He played for my dad in the McDonald's All-American game.

I mean, like that can't be real. That's the most sick, stunning thing that's happened. You're talking about generations of kids right now that in their generation, it would have been like Michael Jordan passing away at 40 years old. It makes no sense.

I guess, if there's a silver lining here, man, you look at your players, and you know it's not the end of the world, obviously, that we lost this game when you really think about what's really going on out there at times for other people, keep it in perspective a little bit. But that's just an unbelievable tragedy.

I don't know the details of anything or who was with him. It's just -- you know, I don't know how to really equate it to our youth. In my youth, it would have been Michael Jordan, and maybe in older generations, maybe some rock stars, but that's just a sick, sick feeling, sick sad feeling for a lot of people around the world really.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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