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December 21, 2019

Archie Miller

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indiana - 62, Notre Dame - 60

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, we're fortunate to be sitting here in the winner's circle. Thought we played really well for I guess 25 to 27, 28 minutes of the game, and we let our offense sort of frustrate us, and against that type of team with the way that they shoot and do some things, they can get back in it quick, and I thought we gave them a lot of opportunities to do that, with not getting back, not being organized. We really struggled there for a good portion of the game in the second half.

We were able to get to about the five-minute mark, especially in the last three minutes, and I was confident our guys were going to make some plays. We've been in that situation. We had great attitude, regardless of the circumstances in the game, which is what you like to see, and a couple key plays by two freshmen. Trayce able to finish underneath out of bounds, and then obviously Al makes a really good one more off of Trayce's inside out, and Armaan, who was big all day really kind of showed his courage and just what he means to the team in terms of how he's sort of embraced his role this year. He's a terrific player. He's a great kid, good teammate. Happy for him.

But for us, we obviously have a lot of work to do. We can keep getting better in a lot of areas. For a while there we looked like a good team. For a while there we didn't. But I think when you're in this type of environment on that neutral setting against a good team with the crowd, you're starting to see game experience and real stuff.

We're fortunate to win. We'll take it, and we'll take this break right here, deep breath. Arkansas is clearly next up for us, and Simon Scott, which will be a great opponent, great night for us to be able to play before we open Big Ten.

Q. You mentioned the last three minutes there, and that's when you put Armaan back in the game. Talk about your level of confidence in him coming in --
ARCHIE MILLER: I give -- I mean, your staff is everything to you during the game. Sometimes your feel is a little different. But Armaan was playing really well all game, and sometimes you go with the older guys and sometimes you go a little bit more experienced. But Armaan had played really well up until that point. We were struggling offensively, and he was the one guy that had made a few plays for us. Able to throw him right back in there, and it's not easy to do what he did. It's not easy to do that, what he did.

But you know, to his credit, like I said, he's got a great attitude. You pull for guys like him.

Q. He hadn't made many threes before today. Had he made extra shooting recently or had you given him the green light and talked to him and told him to let it fly?
ARCHIE MILLER: Are you saying his 14 percent from three was --

Q. I wasn't going to mention that.
ARCHIE MILLER: I did, and he did that, too, and he needed to stop walking around with his head down and acting like people didn't know who he was because he wasn't shooting the ball real well. He can shoot it. He just gotten off to a tough start. Sometimes that happens for all players, but in particular young players that can really steamroll them. He hasn't let it impact his attitude, and he hasn't let it impact his coachability.

I think we finished the Nebraska game, talked at length about confidence, and he works at it every day, and when he shoots it, I think everybody on our team thinks he has a chance to make it. He's not the percentage that he is in terms of how he actually shoots the ball every day. But he stepped up with good confidence, and mindset was really good.

We're encouraging to continue to do that for us because he's a smooth offensive player. He knows how to play. He makes good decisions, and for him to be able to stick some shots for us finally was a big deal. We've been waiting on a couple of these guys to open it up from behind the line because they're pretty good shooters when they're open, especially on the inside-out ones that they're getting. It was good for Armaan. His percentage doesn't dictate the type of shooter that he is, and as most guys do, you get taken aback by it. He had originally I think was worried about it too much, and I think he's stopped worrying about it. What was he going to do, go to 12 percent? It's like, stop worrying about it, you're eventually going to get your percentage to climb up because you're a good shooter, so just hang in there.

Q. I know at Wisconsin when they faced adversity you were pretty upset they were hanging heads, but it seemed like their energy level never really slowed down today even though it was trouble, so you had to be happy with how they kept grinding and found a way to finish at the end.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, unfortunately we had to learn a hard lesson. The stick-to-itiveness and the togetherness and the players grabbing each other by the jerseys and holding themselves accountable at different times in the game was needed, and that didn't happen that day. I think it's happened in the UConn game, it happened in the Nebraska game, and now it's happened here again where we're finding different ways to gut it out, finding ways to get a key stop, make a key play, and different guys are doing it. It's not a one-trick pony, so to speak. We have different guys making plays.

For us, though, we have a good attitude right now with good leadership. You know, it's tough. We've got 11 guys. All are trying to get in the game and play more minutes, and when the game gets tight and you do some things, sometimes minutes go down, but for the most part we've been able to really hang tough and show no cracks in the armor in terms of team over individual.

That's probably our biggest challenge as a group is the return from Christmas. No outside distractions and try to find a way to stay collectively in the moment and find a way to finish the non-conference some way because when you get into conference play, every game is going to be so hard.

Q. You talked about the way Armaan has embraced his role. In what ways has he developed or changed since you first got him?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, he's got to become a more vocal kid. He's -- I don't want to say a timid personality, but he's reserved, he's quiet on the court. I think he's a vibrant kid, so if he has the ability to show some of that vibrance on the floor a little bit more, I think it would be infectious. We've tried to encourage him to do that, and I think he's done that. He's gotten better defensively. As a young player you're out there sometimes and you're at the mercy of the other coaches trying to go at you. He's been able to answer the bell for us a few times defensively for us, but I just think he has a real calm, smooth approach offensively. He knows how to play the game. He makes solid, sound plays, and he's not afraid, and I think as he's gotten a little bit older, the bigger the lights of the game, the more he's been able to step up, whether it was at Florida State, made huge plays down the stretch of that one, or whether it was this one, or even finishing the other night.

But Armaan is a really good player. He's going to continue to get even better as he gets older and bigger and stronger. The experience that he's getting right now as a freshman, him and Trayce in particular, they play a vital role for us. Those guys obviously have a lot of room to grow as they keep getting a little bit older. But I think Armaan's greatest attribute is the type of person he is. He's just a terrific kid. It's just hard not to pull for him, hard not to be around. There's no bad days with him. Got to get your dauber up every once in a while, and I think his body language in terms of being a little bit down sometimes comes through that he's not had that muscle behind him sometimes, and I think that's what we've just tried to continue to find of force out of him a little bit. But all in all, couldn't be happier for him.

Q. John Mooney finished with 10 rebounds but Joey Brunk out-rebounded him with 14? How vital was Joey's presence?
ARCHIE MILLER: Joey was terrific on the glass all game, especially in the first half and second half. He gave us second-chance opportunities. We've said it all along how this team has to be successful, obviously drawing fouls and being able to win the battle on the glass.

We only turned it over 12 times. That's good. We were able to be plus 10 on the backboard. That's huge. We didn't get smashed on the offensive glass too bad. I thought we were able to rebound the ball really well. It's one of the reasons that we've won a few games here in the last couple games. The free throw disparity tonight indicates that obviously Notre Dame has sort of won on that style. They don't typically foul a whole lot, so it's hard, and when we struggle to score, sort of the MO is find a way to get to the foul line. That wasn't really happening tonight, getting to the foul line, so in those long droughts we weren't able to chop it up and get a couple free throws here and there. You get fouled and you're able to go four free throws in a row. We just weren't able to consistently get to the line in that stretch where our offense wasn't functioning real well.

Now, last three or four minutes we were better. We were able to get the ball where we wanted to get to. We got clean looks. Some of them went down, some of them didn't. But Joe was big in his role in the game. I thought for the most part defensively he was also good covering ball screens and doing some things there.

Q. You talked about kind of the difference between Wisconsin when you didn't feel like guys were kind of pulling each other along in tough moments. How do you grow that? Do you challenge guys or is it maybe something this team has had to figure out, go through it and kind of turn it into a disaster a little bit on them once but that allows them to understand?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think after the Wisconsin game you have to look each other sort of in the eye and explain, certain guys are in different roles. Certain guys aren't a young guy anymore, whether that's Justin Smith and how important his role is with our team, Al Durham being an older player, Devonte, De'Ron. At some level the players have to own the team, and when things aren't going real well, typically that's when your alpha dogs and your leaders sort of step up and rally the troops. You don't even have to be in the game to have a great voice in the locker room or a huddle. That was missing completely from 1 through 11 on that day.

Since then, I think as you address it, some guys are now way more noticeable in terms of approaching, we're okay, hang in there. There's a voice. Whatever it may be, move on to the next play. There's much more of that talk with our team, which is a big, big component to becoming a good team as guys obviously being able to communicate and stick with one another through the good and the bad.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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