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February 26, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Clearly coming off last week, I think our team did a great job of just staying with it and getting better. You know, building object what we did last week is the most important thing, and you know, having a great attitude at this time of year as a team, and continuing to find a way to have the highest level of effort that you can play with, are the two most important things, and add in the intelligence level of getting smarter and learning how to play smarter. Clearly, you know, it's the utmost importance heading into Thursday. That's the first objective is Purdue and we're going to have to be a lot better than the first game we play them.

As we head into later in the week on another road game in Champaign, it will be very similar. For us, it's another week. Keep adding to what we've done to the course of the season, and it's an exciting time of year, obviously.

Q. Obviously Trayce continues to come back and play better and better. What does he offer you in a game like this?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think Purdue, the first time we played them may have been Race's first time back and he wasn't 100 percent coming back at that time, and he wasn't as effective as he's been in some of these other contest that is we've played. I think everyone has seen the value of Race's physicality. He brings a per-minute play and he's probably per-minute played, our best rebounder. He gives you hustle plays. He gives you a guy in a kind of knows what he's doing out there in terms of his role and he's playing really hard. He gives you another guy out there that's competing at a pretty high level. From a defensive standpoint, he gives us some mobility. Again, we're able to guard, you know, him, alongside of another big guy where he's able to take the other big guy at times, if he's not completely oversized. But for the most part Race has done a great job for us all season. He's playing career-best basketball. It's unfortunate his spill against Michigan State derailed him for a week or two weeks, he missed at least the Penn State and Ohio State game and he came back at Purdue and he wasn't ready but got another week, Iowa, and I thought from Iowa on, he picked up where he left off. It was good to see, didn't have a good spell and really didn't have a hard time getting out of it. He'll play a big role for us coming down the stretch, rebounding and defense is obviously the utmost importance and like I said, playing with a high motor right now defensively. He's giving us a chance to kind of get better.

We are probably as good in back-to-back settings this past week as we've been maybe all season long. Race's minutes played is probably a big reason why.

Q. (Inaudible).
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: It's definitely not our practice.

Q. Rob we've talked about, his steadying presence, seems like he find ways to contribute when he's scoring or not, and he's just never seemed to be a player that needed to score to feel comfortable in a game. How unusual is that, even for a point guard who is often thinking about getting other guys together, to just be a guy that doesn't need to see a shot fall, doesn't need to see his offense turn up individually to play well.
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I thought last year at this time of year Rob was really struggling with mind-set offensively. He struggled with that injury and whatnot. I think if you look at his shooting percentages a year ago, he was getting baited to shoot. I think he played that way at certain times last season where he was a little tentative. I think Rob is a very willing right now offensive player to be aggressive, especially with his shot. He's a much improved shooter. I think here of late, especially this past week, I'm really proud of his effort level defensively. He played a really solid game against Marcus Carr on Wednesday and then again this past weekend when we played Penn State, he was an impact on the defensive side of the ball, five steals and five defensive rebounds. For where we are heading as a team, for Rob, it's about, you know, really spearheading our defense and being a guy we can count on defensively. I think from an offensive perspective, I think he understands right now, it's about running our team and it's about making sure that we're taking care of the ball, and he knows when he has his opportunities, you know, offensively, to be aggressive, he can do that, but he's playing pretty good basketball for us right now and I'm really proud of his defensive effort here of late, especially these last couple games, I think he's been really, really good. So we're going to need -- we're going to need him to really finish strong on that end of the ball because I think your defense starts with your perimeter pressure and our pressure in the three out of our last four games has been outstanding and he's been a big reason why.

Q. Playing back-to-back-to back, the losses, is there anything different about the team that you've noticed and how you'll continue?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: I think we're okay. I think that was more so from me than them. As a coach coach, you think too much about your guys and your prep time. Sometimes it's easy in a setting, play a couple in a row, you don't have time to think about it, go play. Sort of that mentality, more than anything. I think our guys have a good mindset right now. I think that they understand we are not asking a lot of them other than.

Like I said at the beginning, great attitude, great work ethic, and you know, tremendous effort level when we're asking him to give it, and if we do those two things, we're going to be fine. Just trying to get a little smarter with our practice times right now and using our practice time to really make less mistakes. I think that's part of what our team has struggled with through the course of games and through the course of the season, is just the lulls and the mistakes that you can clean up if you're concentrating. Not trying to beat them up right now. I think they know that. It's a time of year where you have to be ready to play and we've been ready to play here these last couple and I don't anticipate that changing and we have a lot on the line, along with everybody else. We are playing at an exciting time of year with a lot to play for. You want to go out there and play and not think a lot and give what you have. For us, being smarter working on our practices to become a better team and at the end of the day really honing in on that effort and that attitude, I think that's been a good thing for us here recently.

Q. After the first time you played, Matt said he was trying to throw a lot more motion and throw things off defensively. How do you make adjustments to that if they try to go for that again?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: Purdue is great motion team. They run precision offense, whether it's set plays or whether it's their motion. Their guys do a great job of cutting and screening, and I think they are even running more motion right now than they were the first time that we played them. In our game, I didn't think we were very good in terms of the effort that we gave defensively on the ball, and I didn't think we were very good in our attention to detail in terms of chasing guys mid-off, hand-offs. We weren't good enough in that game to beat Purdue. A lot of reasons for it or whatnot but when you watch the game it's one of those games where you say we didn't look at this year and you look at, and you say we didn't bring it that day. We need to be much better obviously on the road and as you head into their place, they are very good at home. They are a very good -- I would say that that Purdue and Matt and his staff, they are a precision execution team. They pick on you, pick on your rules. Pick on your guys. In our game, especially in the first half, first ten minutes, I think they made five threes. Aaron Wheeler made three. Aaron Cutter made two. Those are big shots. Gave them a lot of confidence on the road and I think that when we've been good, if you just look at us, we've defended the three-point line pretty well, whether that was Penn State or whether that was Minnesota or even Iowa, a good three-point shooting team have done a good job of handling the line with our ball pressure and being where we're supposed to be and also being detailed on cutters and who certain guys are. But they do a great job. Purdue is as good as it gets in terms of picking on you with their motion, their screening, their cutting, and they also mix in obviously their action in what they do and try to get you there. But without question, just going to have to play a lot harder than we did in the first game.

Q. In three or four of the last games -- you talked earlier in the season about your depth but have guys finally gotten comfortable in their role off the bench?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: In more motion now than they were the first time that we played them. In our game, I didn't think they were very good in terms of the effort that we gave defensively -- deal with three or four guys that are unhappy. We're past that and I think guys have seen the value of just staying with it and having their moments in games. Sometimes it doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Sometimes it's our team watching film and seeing good things happen. Every guy, every single guy on our team, whether they play a minute, don't play, they are bringing it every day in practice, and that gives you the confidence to go in the game and compete. I know De'Ron has had his moments, Jerome has had his moments, he's had really big plays, Armaan, his defense, did he a really good job hanging in at Minnesota. You look at Devonte coming in off the bench, one of our key guys but three of the last four games he's been there for us. Even Minnesota he's been there for us. He's been there against Penn State and we're going to need those guys to stay with it.

Like I said at the beginning of the season, we're only going to be as good as the overall depth and impact of each guy on our team and as we head into the last week and a half of the season, I think that's what you're hoping for as a coach is that you have a lot of guys contributing. We had a lot of guys contribute this past week and we had a lot of guys contribute even on Saturday, it was a hard-fought game where a lot of guys made good plays.

Just finding a way to get as much out of everyone as we can, and like I said, it usually comes with that attitude and effort. If you have great attitude and you're working your butt off, good things happen, and I think we have a lot of that going right now for us.

But you know, without question, the productivity over the last couple games by more people has really helped us.

Q. We talked a lot last year about Romeo, the microscope that he was always under. Do you feel like Trayce has had to deal with less of that and has that allowed him more space to grow his freshman year?
COACH ARCHIE MILLER: I think Trayce has probably dealt with one-tenth of what Romeo had to deal with through the course of the season.

Trayce's impact on our team, and Trayce's play, has been second to none. Trayce is a different type of a kid. He's a different type of a player coming in, although McDonald's is All-American and although Indiana Mr. Basketball, it wasn't the savior of the universe that was coming to help us.

Romeo had as good of a freshman season as a lot of freshmen have ever had coming through here and it seems like all they wanted to talk about what was went wrong. Poor kid is 18 years old is and playing against the Lakers on TV and he's pretty good.

Trayce is good in his own right, and he hasn't had the fame on the way in and that he's here, but he's national freshman of the week this week in college basketball, almost March, and he's doing a great job for us. He's a different type of player. He's a different type of kid, and he's a very, very, very grounded personality, as did Romeo. But not too high, not too low, but continues to want to learn and get better, and both guys really wanted to win. I think Trayce has kind of shown that with his play here recently. He has really stepped up to the plate and he's tried to handle a bigger load for us. He has to get better defensively. But what you just talked about, the two individuals coming in the door what one guy out on his back versus Trayce has the same weight on his back from us as a staff but he doesn't have the same weight on his back from probably the outside world. I don't know if anyone ever will, I really don't know if there will ever be a freshman that will go to a place like an Indiana, an in-state school at the time that he did when he was coming out of high school, and be able to live up to those type of standards, even when you average 16 or 17 a game in the Big Ten as a freshman, and you're guarding LeBron James on Sunday on TV, I get the biggest kick -- he's a defensive stopper now he tells me, that's the one thing that sound pretty comical. Happy for him, and both guys have made a huge impact on our program, and hopefully they continue to play well because I think that speaks volumes and reasons they can stay here for the right reasons when they can.

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