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March 16, 2017
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by Dayton. We'll have an opening statement from Coach and then take questions for the players. Coach?
ARCHIE MILLER: First, it's great to be back. For these guys, their fourth year in a row. To be in Indy and to play in this facility with the other teams that are participating here is really, really exciting. We're really excited to get started. Wichita State is a fantastic team, and we have our work cut out for us. But at this time of year, I think everybody pretty much anticipates everything being hard earned.
We prepared hard, and we're excited to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the players.
Q. Scooch, do you feel like you guys, after a long grind all season, an A10 tournament and now coming here, is this a chance to hit the reset button?
SCOOCHIE SMITH: Yeah, for sure. This is one of our goals we wanted to accomplish coming into the season and just make it this far is a blessing. We want to put it all out there on the court starting tomorrow night.
Q. For any of the players, the past experience you've had playing in the NCAA tournament, how do you think that can help?
KENDALL POLLARD: Experience in the NCAA tournament is terrific to have. All of us have played in the tournament, and we're going to try to go out there and share some of our leadership with our teammates.
SCOOCHIE SMITH: Just being strong-minded with the guys and being together I think will go a long way. All of us here have won games in the NCAA tournament, and we know what it takes to win. So just having that, I think we'll be fine.
CHARLES COOKE: Just as Scooch said, knowing what it takes to win this time of year. It's tough to win games, so you've got to go out there and play hard and do what we do best and do what we've done all year.
KYLE DAVIS: I think just being able to lead the team. We have experience from the upperclassmen just teaching -- the underclassmen stepping up and being ready to play in big-time moments.
Q. Scoochie and Kendall, how do some of the wars you had with Rhode Island and other teams in your league prepare you for the battle you might have with Wichita State?
KENDALL POLLARD: Those two teams you mentioned, they're very physical. They rebound the ball, and Wichita State is the same way. So we'll go in there and be tough-minded and rebound the ball, roll it up with them.
SCOOCHIE SMITH: Just watching film of Wichita State, you play two teams like Rhode Island and VCU, mix them together, a team like Wichita State, being battle tested throughout the conference, playing the teams they play gets them prepared as well.
Q. For all the guys and you too, Arch, what was your first memory as a kid watching an NCAA tournament game and saying, wow, I want to do that some day?
KYLE DAVIS: To be honest, I don't have no memory, you know. I really wasn't thinking about it. But when we first stepped on the campus, me, Scooch and Kendall, our dream was to get to the NCAA tournament, and we did our freshman year, and look at us now three years later.
CHARLES COOKE: I know for me, definitely, always watching basketball, seeing some of the best college players come in and win games and do big things, it's definitely a special moment, and it's a blessing to get here.
We're just trying to capitalize and do the best we can.
SCOOCHIE SMITH: Just going through all these years, watching basketball all my life, it's been a dream of mine just to play on this stage, and I don't want to take it for granted. It's not one specific memory that I have, but these memories I do have the past few years have been real good ones.
KENDALL POLLARD: For me, I think I was watching a tournament game, Marquette. I used to follow Dwyane Wade when I was younger. I think they went to the Final Four that year. That's the only memory -- that was my first memory, NCAA tournament.
ARCHIE MILLER: There's a lot of memories. Been watching a lot longer than these guys have, but I think Duke/Kentucky with Laettner's last shot, I can remember the whole game, sitting down, watching it at home. That type of environment, that type of feeling, you want to be a part of that.
Q. Kyle and Scoochie, if you could, Wichita State's 3-point shooting, what kind of challenges does that present? Is there maybe a team you've played throughout the year that is kind of similar in that aspect?
KYLE DAVIS: We did a lot of scouting and 3-point is a challenge for us this game. We've worked on it hard all year and defended a lot of teams that had good 3-point percentages, and we know what we have to do to get the job done.
SCOOCHIE SMITH: I'm not sure there's a team I can think of that reminds me of Wichita State in terms of 3-point shooting. But I know if we do what we have to do, we'll be right there to win the game.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about Wichita State's seeding. Has that added a little bit of a chip to your guys' shoulder at all?
KENDALL POLLARD: No, not at all. The seeding, it is what it is. And they're a good team. We're a good team. So we're just going to go out there and play. It don't matter about the seeding.
Q. Dayton fans travel well. How aware are you guys of a crowd at either an away game or a neutral site when the Dayton fans are there?
CHARLES COOKE: Definitely, you know, when Dayton fans come to the game, you see nothing but red when you look around the stands, and Dayton fans really travel well. They give us a big boost at home. They give us a big boost on the road. Neutral site, so it's a great thing to have Dayton fans at the game, whether you're up or you're down. For a home game, they definitely give you a boost. I'm looking forward to seeing all the Dayton fans at the game for sure.
KYLE DAVIS: Flyer faithful have always been supporting us since day one and especially in the NCAA tournament, so I expect them to be out here, full-fledged Dayton colors rooting us on.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, fellas.
We'll continue for Coach.
Q. Archie, one of the challenges of being an accomplished coach is your name gets attached to some of the openings that are out there. Illinois is open. Indiana opened today. How do you handle that, the buzz of being attached to some of those things?
ARCHIE MILLER: I'm not attached to any of that. I think everybody else attaches me to them. I think it speaks volumes about how we do things at Dayton. That's the only thing I concern myself with.
Growing up as a player, we were taught to eliminate noise and distractions and bring your best to the floor every day and sort of treat that with our players the same way. It wouldn't be right as a coach if you were thinking about anything other than them. That's all I really concern myself with.
Q. What challenges does Shaquille Morris present to your team?
ARCHIE MILLER: A lot. A lot. He's a terrific player. When you look at his points and rebounds per minute played, I'm not sure there's a guy that's been more effective in his time on the court.
They're so deep that if he played on another team, he'd probably be getting close to 20 a game. Because they're so deep and they're so spread out with their minutes, he doesn't have the numbers, but he would. He does a great job of, obviously, establishing himself in positioning.
He's a great offensive rebounder, and he's in a system and a style with terrific -- a terrific scheme around him where you can't really just load up and try to put all your eggs in one basket. So he's going to present big challenges, as the rest of their players are.
There's a reason they've won 30 games. He's a big reason why, and I think he'll be a big focal point of the game when he's in because he's so efficient, so effective. And with our size, the way we've done things, they have the gift of a little bit in terms of being able to really work around him.
So we're going to have to be -- at the end of the day, we're going to have to be very tough-minded. We're going to have to be as disciplined as we can, and we're going to have to work very hard early in possessions to try to make sure he doesn't get everything as easy as he would. It's a difficult challenge. It's a difficult challenge for any team.
Q. Coach, when you saw the draw, how much of the concern about Wichita State was their depth?
ARCHIE MILLER: Their depth is as good as any team in the country, and it's evolved through the course of the season. I think they've done a really great job of changing things from November to December and then into January. And now I think they've figured it out, what rotations and lineups work best.
They have a lot of different guys to beat you. There's not one guy in the game that can't have a major impact in the game, whether it's scoring or rebounding or obviously defending the way that they do.
I think the overall depth, their ability to stay out of foul trouble, they don't really get bothered by those things. So it's a unique team to play against.
Typically, we're a team that gets fouled a lot. Being able to get teams in foul trouble is something that's important. They can sort of withstand a lot of that stuff and keep coming with very, very good players and bodies. So their depth is probably something that we haven't seen that type of team in the past, just the ability to keep coming bodies at you.
I think that's probably a little bit why they're so successful, they really don't take the foot off the pedal. They have so many guys coming in and out at the same level. That overall, over 40 minutes, is one of the reasons I think they are so dominant in terms of being able to really extend leads late in games or take an eight-point game and bang it to 20, is just because of the overall firepower that just keeps coming.
It's probably the most impressive trait of their team is how they've been able to navigate that amount of bodies to be that effective over the course of the year.
Q. Archie, have you talked to Sean about last year's Wichita State game in the NCAA tournament? Did he give you any advice?
ARCHIE MILLER: He doesn't have any advice, none. He didn't have any advice after that game. I watched the game, for part of it anyway. I haven't seen a team do that to one of Sean's teams maybe ever. I think that was the most impressive thing about it.
I've been following Wichita State as a head coach since I got the job. I thinks my second year when we were really getting ready to get started and trying to get our feet on the ground, I believe that was their run to the Final Four. I watched them go through, I believe, Gonzaga at the time who was a 1 seed, beat Ohio State, if I'm not mistaken in that Elite Eight to go to the Final Four. They kind of motivated me.
They motivated you to say to yourself, like, wow, if those guys can be that tough, they can play that hard, they can have that type of culture, that's something that you have to really rely on and say if we can create something like that, maybe we can get there.
I think I just told Coach Marshall when I saw him a couple minutes ago, I mean, kind of look at Wichita State as a program that gives a lot of places like ours the faith that they can play with anyone. They can beat anyone. And I think their game last year was great evidence against Arizona that they don't really care who they're playing.
We try to be the same way. I think being here for our fourth year, there's a reason why.
Q. Archie, you and Gregg share a similar dilemma in that Power Five schools aren't exactly excited to face you in a nonconference season. What's the solution to that, to make it easier for schools like yours and Wichita State to get those opportunities in a nonconference season?
ARCHIE MILLER: That's not easy. One, I would say that our home venue and their home venue, very similar places that there's no advantage in many ways for those schools to come and play us in home at homes, okay.
Secondly, I'm sure Coach Marshall and myself would also -- we started a lot of series on the road to go get those type of games. And whether you're in an exempt event like they were in the Bahamas or we were in Anaheim this year or Orlando together a year ago, you're trying to find ways to put yourselves, whether it be neutral situations where you can get them on one-shot deals or tournaments or send yourself on the road a few times and maybe get one back in return.
But it's difficult. It's difficult. I think it's getting more difficult. As the years go by here within one year, 2 years or 3 years, it could become almost impossible because as Power conference teams continue to do their leagues and look at their leagues, they're going to play 20 games in a conference season.
Then the next thing you know, all Power Fives will be playing 20 games in the conference season. If you're in the ACC and you're playing 20 regular season conference games and you're in an exempt event and you've got a Big Ten challenge game, where is that game coming from?
It's a unique challenge. I'm at a great place with a great administration. We're on the front end of things trying to be creative as we can. I think being able to be in situations where we play neutral site games or going on the road a couple times maybe too many, I think doesn't matter.
You just have to be able to put yourself in those situations. I think our leagues are also key to the future, and I think the Atlantic Ten has done a nice job of being a multiple team league bid during the time we've been there, whether it's been 6, 5, 4, 3. I don't think that will change. We have opportunities in our league with good quality opponents as well.
Scheduling is always hard. I think it continues to get harder and harder, though.
Q. If you would, would you describe just how basketball was ingrained in you growing up in a basketball family?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah. I mean, I've known nothing else. I think Sean's ten years older than me, so it wasn't like we have this sibling rivalry type of thing, being that he's ten years older than me and I was the tagalong for a long time.
Being a tagalong at the age of 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 years old, when you're able to watch halftime performances or All-American camps, through him growing up and then obviously when he went to college, at that point in time, I was starting to get into middle school and junior high. That's when basketball became bigger than life, watching him play at Pitt and my dad being my high school coach all the way through and having an opportunity to play college basketball.
Since I can remember, basketball has been a part of the daily routine. And I guess some guys are born into houses with doctors, lawyers, whatever it may be. Our conversations were very simple. It was about getting better. It was about competing. It was about learning how to be a great player and all those conversations have probably turned us into coaches without us really realizing it.
It was a unique house to be a part of. I think if you look right now, in 2017, look at some of the successes that we've had post-playing career, you can really attribute a lot of that to growing up in the house that I was in.
Q. Coach, with guys like Scoochie and Kyle and Kendall that have so much game experience under their belt, what does it do for you as a coach just to have that luxury of guys that have that much experience?
ARCHIE MILLER: You don't panic as much in tough situations. I think what comes with those guys' experience, I think a lot of times what people attribute it to is the big wins and all that.
I don't think that I look at it as all the glory moments. I've watched these guys grow up. I've watched them fight. Most of our best moments, we haven't been the prettiest of games. You're down with 30-some seconds to go or you hit a buzzer shot at eight seconds.
I just remember all the plays they were involved in throughout the course of the battle. You watch a guy like Scooch and watch his maturation, how good he is at the end of the games for us.
You watch guys like Kyle and Kendall, being a part of at an amazing run with four to go. Those are the things I remember the most. It gives you as a coach confidence that as you walk into that environment tomorrow, you hope it's not too big. At the same time, you know throughout the course of their career, if you just let it happen and keep going with them, they'll find ways to keep you right there.
We talked a lot about it last night. There's a lot of people that go back on those guys' careers or our tenure together, and they think about some of the tournament runs and all that stuff.
If you really start to show some of the clips of the games that they've been involved with, they have been really hard-fought, ugly, find a way type of moments that they've had to come through. It hasn't been like all this Hollywood stuff.
I think as you look at them, you appreciate the fact how much they've been through. You appreciate how much they've given of themselves in terms of their effort. But they really are about winning too, and I think that's the thing I'll remember most about them.
You feel confident, not that you ever feel good, but you feel confident at some point in time that they'll make something happen for you.
Q. I'm curious, when the entire bracket came out and the draw came out for you, were you able to take a quick look at what John Brannen was able to do at Northern Kentucky? I'm sure you know him a little bit from scouting Alabama years ago when he was on that staff. Just any thoughts on him or maybe what you've seen out of a first-year eligible program to get to this point?
ARCHIE MILLER: Number one, John did a fantastic job this past season. Where he started at, where they're at right now is a credit to him, his staff, and what they've been able to establish. Got to know John a little bit through our Alabama competing days when he was there.
Then when he was named the head coach at Northern Kentucky, being right down the road, stayed in communication with him pretty well. When he won the conference tournament, I texted him right after the game, just congratulations, man. What an awesome, awesome opportunity.
He's done a terrific job. It's not easy to go to a place like Northern Kentucky right off the bat, especially in the Horizon, which is a very tough league. They've taken advantage sort of their draw.
You can tell even last year when they were playing, he had an identity about him. They had a system. They knew what they were doing. This year just carried right over. He did about as good of a job with a team this season as any coach in college basketball.
The fact that they're in the tournament right now, I mean, I think that speaks volumes.
Q. Coach, just read recently that you -- before every game, you like to put a number 5 up in the top corner of the whiteboard there. I was wondering why, what that means to you?
ARCHIE MILLER: If you're in our locker room and you're a part of our program, you sort of can look each other in the eye and probably saw all of us at our worst moment, whether that would be looking at me as a player or looking at a player as a coach or looking at a coach to a coach.
Probably the worst moments that any of us have experienced together, we kind of saw the worst of one another. I think that being here today, win or lose the game, for that room to be sitting here today after May 12, many cases, a lot of places wouldn't pick themselves back up.
I put that number up on the board for one reason. Steve was an interesting guy. He had a big impact on a lot of people, and he's sort of in the locker room. He was the locker room. In many ways when you're going through scouting reports and preparing for games, you want to win, you want to lose. Every once in a while if you think back, take a deep step and say, wow, where were we? Imagine if that wouldn't have happened? Or nothing's really guaranteed if I leave this locker room right now. I don't know who's going to do what or what's going to happen.
So you put it up there as a perspective for everybody to look up there, see it, and let's go out and have a good time. I hope that I can write that number up there for a long time. But, in particular, this group has been affected by it the most.
You don't ever want to think about you move on from something like that, but you do. But at the same time, I think you have to take a deep breath every once in a while and just say hey, man, everything's okay right now. Things are good, regardless of how you feel, regardless if the game didn't go real well or it did go well.
You've got to take it day to day and do things together. That's the thing I'm probably most proud about this group is it was a hard road to get up off the ground, a lot harder than I ever anticipated, not just for our players, but our staff personally. And to be able to be here now, that's a good thing for a lot of people. It helped us.
Steve was a big impression on a lot of these guys. They won't forget him for the rest of their lives.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Archie.
ARCHIE MILLER: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports