home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 23, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 68, Penn State - 60

COACH MILLER: Well, tough game. Obviously two teams that played really hard. Penn State being down Myreon Jones right now, you have to give them a little bit of a pass when you have a guy that good that's not playing. Hopefully he gets back for them because they're having a terrific year and Pat's done a great job -- always play hard, always grind you out and find a way to make the thing hard on you.

And that's what happened to us today. We got off to a great start. I thought we played really well early in the game defensively. First half offense was pretty good and should have had a bigger lead going into halftime. We made some dumb errors towards the end of the half.

But to come out in the second half, we took a huge punch. That was, at times this season, that punch has hurt us a lot more. We weren't shook. We found a way to kind of hang in there. We had a lot of guys step up and make some plays. And I thought in the last eight minutes of the game we made almost every single hard hustle play, whether it was an offensive tap, a long rebound, a defensive stop, a block, our guards got in there a few times and dug it out. And then we were able to make some plays when it was really hard.

But offense second half was just damn tough around the rim. I thought we had good looks. I thought some guys got point-blank shots. We really didn't get it. And we needed some more perimeter weapons versus their pressure. They really started to blow things up, and the denying. They made the game really grimy, which is what you have to do when you're a road team.

We found a way to finish. And at the end of the week, we got two wins this week. Played hard in both games, had great attitude. Played with high-level effort and I thought for the most part we played smart.

Only turned it over 12 times at home and I don't know what we turned it over on Wednesday but we've been taking care of the ball a little better. The last two minutes we learned our lesson from the Maryland game. We were able to handle the press and get it and make some free throws.

But again, credit to Penn State. Very good team. Lamar Stevens, just as tough as they come. What a tough customer. I give our guys credit, too. Guys stepped up and made some plays and we finished the week off well.

Q. First half defense, how good was it? And specifically was there an adjustment in there? Looked like you guys were maybe jumping some passing lanes, being a little more aggressive there at times.
COACH MILLER: We were aggressive. The key all week, to be honest with you, was to be great on the ball. And our ball pressure was really good in the first half. 0-for-6 from 3 is huge. Not only turning it over five times and not giving them a lot of run-outs, but we also did a really good job pressuring and covering the line early so they didn't make a ton of 3s.

But they did get to the foul line 14 times. And just big Mike Watkins and obviously Lamar, they can pretty much isolate you anytime they want and try to get to the foul line. We fouled a little too much.

Second half, first eight minutes of the second half we were on our heels. We couldn't stop the ball. We couldn't guard the ball. He had a lot to do with it with his matchups and what he was doing with big-on-big switches and whatnot. Then we kind of got it calmed down a little bit.

But defensively all week long, I thought we played as solid as we have defensively. In the course of two games, you're going to have some tough times. You're going to have some things that go wrong. But we fought and finished both games really well defensively.

We were able to defensive rebound a little better in the second half. Trayce obviously is a big part of that. Justin rebounded on the defensive end in the second half. And obviously Race getting in there did a good job. Rob Phinisee's five defensive rebounds for the point guard and five steals played a really good court game for us.

But I'm proud of our guys. Worked hard this week. Had a great attitude, just keeping our mouth shut and basically grinding it out. That's all you can do.

Q. You talked about taking that punch you were down 10 early and Minnesota was making everything there early. You kind of rebounded from that as well. Whether it's body language, things guys are saying to one another, when you do absorb that and come back now, what's different from the times you referenced earlier in the season where you haven't been able to bounce back from a really big effort from an opponent?
COACH MILLER: Just break the game up. We play the game in 10 four-minute battles, 10 four-minute rounds like a fight. And the first two rounds up at Minnesota, obviously they scored the first majority of their first half points.

But the fight is a full 10 rounds. And at the end of the day in basketball there's going to be swings. You have to find a way to hang in there and weather it. And you have to find a way to make a couple runs. And then our defense, to me, is the whole key as we finish the season. Can we get defensive stops and can we play in transition defense to offense, because right now we're taking care of the ball a little bit better.

But keep the big picture in mind. Keep the game simple. If you don't win a four-minute round, like a fight, you've got to find a way to win as many rounds as you can. And you have to be the toughest team the longest. You have to be willing to fight it all the way until the ninth and the tenth round. You've got to be finishers.

And we finished this week. We didn't finish here a few other times, maybe last week, but we've been able to finish here the last couple games.

Q. How impactful has Race Thompson become for you? And why do you think he's emerged?
COACH MILLER: Race is physical. Race is physical. He puts his body out there. He defensive rebounds, he walls up, he offensive rebounds. You're starting to see him in the post get a little bit more confidence with a couple of back-to-the-basket moves.

Race is not afraid. He's not a young kid. He's been here three years. And unfortunately his season was taken from him last year with injury or he would have helped last year because he knows what he's doing and he's a smart guy -- except on that press where he gave up a touchdown; I don't know what he was doing on that.

But at the end of the day, if you look at our wins here recently he's played a big role because the physicality in our league is above, like, any other league in the country. There's not another league in college basketball that plays the league as physical as this.

You need guys that are willing to stick their nose in there and do it. And that's what Race gives us. He gave it to us against Minnesota. He gave it to us against Iowa. Nobody had it at Michigan. Nobody. And now can we find a way in this next one to be good.

But he gives us another mobile guy out there. To be honest, he saves us. We had foul troubles at the 5 right now. We're able to play Trayce a little bit more at the center position which gives him more offensive opportunities. If Race can hold his ground at the 4, we don't have to play small with Justin.

Race is big, big minutes in the game. His minutes are big. He's changed the course of our season here as we've been able to get through February.

Q. How important is he especially when you (indiscernible) like you guys did, he obviously came up with some pretty big plays, a couple key buckets there, and some grimy plays, especially. How important is that when you need something to pick you up in a situation like that?
COACH MILLER: In this game today we needed a tough guy. We didn't need jump shooters or pretty. In this type of the game, in the second half, when it gets away from you, you need somebody to get out there throwing some punches back. At some point, you have to make some hard plays yourself.

And Race does that for us because he gives great effort. That's what he does. He's a blue-collar guy. He does it every day in practice. He's really improved.

I can't stress enough, when he was out we played him the first time. Race and Jerome didn't play, but Race in particular, the first time we played Penn State, we need him out there a little bit defending those type of guys. He didn't play the first time. Like they didn't have Myreon Jones this time. We didn't have guys.

But Race is important. I'm proud of him he's got to hang in there keep doing a good job. He's gotta do a better job at the free-throw line because he's a better free throw shooter than that. And I think that as he finishes the season he's finishing on a high note.

Q. You talked about kind of finishing the final eight minutes with almost every hard hustle play. Justin Smith seemed to make a lot --
COACH MILLER: Made a lot. Really raised his level of plays the last eight minutes of the game. Had a steal underneath, out of bounds. That was huge. He had six defensive rebounds, which I'm not sure what he had at half. But I would say the majority of his defensive rebounding came in the second half.

And that's when Justin's good. When Justin's good, Justin's activity level -- and you can see his effort level, making plays others can't make, whether he just goes and gets a rebound nobody else can get, which we needed. He gets a steal, a deflection because he's in the right position.

I thought offensively he had the ball around the basket a few times today and probably could have got maybe a couple more free throws because I thought he got hit on a couple. But he didn't get it. He played through it, which is good.

Sometimes Justin wants the game to go a certain way and it doesn't. And it takes him a minute. But when the energy was up and we needed the plays to be made, I thought last eight minutes he stepped up, did a great job.

Q. Two rebounds in the first half.
COACH MILLER: I don't know how many of them were offensive rebounds. Two total. He ends up getting six rebounds in one-half. Big offensive rebound in the left corner that he was able to snag as well.

Q. You're 27 games into this. In what ways has your team improved both individually and collectively here down the stretch?
COACH MILLER: I think collectively we're starting to know and understand that the identity of the team has to be defense first. Defense creates the offense. And the offensive side of the ball is about taking care of it.

I think for so long we played games where guys worried about playing on offense: Why can't you score? Why are you going through such a long shooting drought? Why are you this? Why are you that? At the end of the day that's irrelevant. If you're great defensively, you're going to have a chance. If you're great on the glass, you're going to have a chance. And on offense, if we can take care of the ball better, we're going to be able to be better, especially this time of year.

So collectively, I think we're starting to figure out, like, this deal's about high-level effort on defense. That's the only thing we're working towards. On offense, we're really trying to be sharp and take care of it a little better. That's going to give us five or six more opportunities to score the ball, which I thought this week was huge. We didn't turn it over as much.

Individually, we have certain guys right now that I think are in a good groove in terms of understanding what they have to bring to the table. There's not too many guys on our team right now that don't know what we need from them. And I think you're seeing multiple contributions from a lot of guys where our bench continues to help us.

De'Ron, big basket today under the basket. Second half, late. Jerome, really big 3. Race, we already talked about him. Look at Devonte, good week for us this week, was able to make some shots and make some plays.

And you look at Armaan at Minnesota, today maybe not as much; his minutes were a little limited. But at Minnesota, Armaan did a great job defensively. I can go across the board, continue to name it. But I think right now our team has pretty much figured out all the looks, all the feeling good stuff is out. It doesn't matter anymore. Right now this is about playing the best ball you can at the right time.

That doesn't mean we're not going to stink it up again. That doesn't mean we're not going to play poorly. But I would say you have to have the bounce-back mentality. And you have to have a group that understands that we have a lot of great things in front of us, if we continue to hone in and get better. It's not about what just happened; it's about what can happen.

And I think our team in general hasn't worried, definitely has had a blind eye to, hey, we played good, then we played bad. It hasn't been, oh, we played bad, let's worry about that.

It's been let's move on to the next one, let's see if we can't play better, which is why I think we've won three out of our last four. And obviously our last two home wins against Iowa and Penn State are big resume wins.

Q. Another double-double for Trayce. He was a guy that maybe started a little slow in this game, but he said you kind of prodded him to keep making shots.
COACH MILLER: Had to fight through it. That deal inside for him today wasn't going to be easy. They had some guys at the door, at the club or at the guy at door, at the bar when you check in and, that's the guy that you were playing against tonight inside. Those dudes were physical and they're bullies.

And like they're not giving you any of those calls with those guys. They can hold serve. And I think Trayce early in the game was trying way too much to pivot and sort of jump into guys, look for contact. I thought later in the game he played through it and had some really good looks. But he shot 17 times. That's what I'm happy about. That's what I'm happy about. He was aggressive. He stayed with it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297