Archie Miller met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to discuss offseason workouts, the progress of the freshman class, De’Ron Davis, leadership and much more.
Watch the full media availability below:
A full transcript is available below, via ASAP Sports:
ARCHIE MILLER: Welcome everybody. Give you an opportunity to get a quick update on things as the summer has continued to sort of evolve with our team, and as we flow into July and recruiting starts to take shape, usually we really focus on a lot of team stuff. So having the opportunity to do a couple workouts a week as a group for the first time is a little refreshing. You get a little bit more anxious, and you wish you had a little bit more time with them because you get your juices flowing a little bit, once you start to see the possibilities or whatnot of all the different guys.
Been really, really proud of the group all the way since getting here. Very, very impressive group of workers, and adding our new guys, the three young guys over the last three weeks, they have fit in seamlessly as people. Just really encouraged by their approach.
So I’ll probably just open it up to you guys a little bit here and answer as much as I can. Get you guys as much information as you need to, because probably within about three weeks these guys will depart, and we’ll break for a quick break before fall semester starts.
Q. You mentioned the new guys fitting in seamlessly as people. As players, what is the biggest challenge for a fresh man coming into the first summer being a college player?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I think every freshmen has an adjustment with the pace and the speed and the size of everything that’s going around. Most of the time their biggest adjustment as a young player is learning how to defend in college against older, bigger, stronger faster guys. They’re no longer, so to speak, the elite talents that they were in high school where physically they could just dominate people. That’s the norm.
These guys haven’t really missed a beat. They’re a mature group, smart. Where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there. In three weeks time they’ve all made significant progress on their bodies and their conditioning. And just watching them move yesterday with the other guys and watching them sort of get into the flow, I feel all of them belong here. I feel all of them have a real chance to be successful with us.
But the learning curve is big. The one that’s a unique thing for them is usually freshmen are coming into a situation where there are seniors and juniors and sophomores that have been there and done that, and they’re not learning, and they’re the only guys that stand out in terms of making more mistakes. In this case, everyone’s at ground zero, so they have a little advantage in that regard.
Q. Juwan talked about the need for veteran leadership. I think Robert said it’s like having a coach on the floor or whatever. How important is it that you get that from this group?
ARCHIE MILLER: It’s really important. I think the upperclassmen have established they have a good way about them in terms of their communication, leading by example. But we need a group that have a loud voice.
Rob’s a guy that’s going to have to step out of his comfort zone a little bit. He’s done a better job this summer than he did in the early spring. He’s really, really worked hard and shown people how it’s done. But he’s talking more.
Collin is a huge boost. He and Juwan both have been fantastic in every regard of what we’re doing, in terms of them communicating, talking. You’ve got to have a team that can communicate with one another. And there’s got to be a sounding board, and I think those older guys know that.
Q. What is Collin able to do?
ARCHIE MILLER: Collin on Monday or Sunday night in his last checkup was actually cleared for contact. So as we approach these team workouts we’ll be very, very smart with him. There is no real reason to speed him up. But I think confidence-wise, mentally and physically, he feels as good as he’s felt in a long, long time. We’ll continue to take him slow, but he’s ahead of schedule just in terms of where he’s supposed to be, doing what he’s going to do, and the way he’s handled things in this off-season, he’s given himself a chance to kick off October, November, full go.
Q. When you’re putting your stamp on the program, how key is it that you have those upperclassmen setting that tone that everybody’s getting in a lot of stuff behind them?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think it’s very important that we’re very driven right now to put a stamp on things. To get an identity started, and I think from small groups to individual sessions they’ve gotten a feel for that, and they understand sort of what we do.
Now, from a team perspective, you know, we’re sort of reteaching everything. You’re reteaching the way you practice. You’re reteaching the way you communicate in practice. Everything’s new. So you have to take some time with that. But those guys that have been there, they have to pick it up quicker and they have to help teach the other guys who aren’t getting there as fast.
But the identity is going to start and stop with the guys that pick things up the fastest and execute what we’re asking them to execute. The purpose of this summer, in particular these next three weeks, is going to be to put in place a foundation of how we practice. What we do in practice, and starting to build a foundation on offense and defense.
So making sure those guys, the upper class guys, the seniors that have been there, they’re out in front. Not that anyone can’t catch them, but they’re out in front.
Q. The ability to be in synch with Clif in terms of what he’s doing strength and conditioning-wise, how close do you guys have to work so that if you go hard one day in practice, he can adjust what he does?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, that relationship is probably more important than most realize. Clif and I obviously get a game plan in each phase of the year. The calendar year requires different things. This is a big time for him. He’s had a great off-season with some guys, and he’s also had a great way about him of getting great results through his way of doing it.
But his communication on a weekly basis, his communication on guys mentally, physically, how do they feel really dictates how I operate with them sometimes. And as the course of the season goes and we’re closer to fall and closer to practices, that’s when you really have to be smart with guys. And Tim Garl — Tim, Clif and myself, that’s sort of a three-headed monster that operates very, very closely.
Q. You mentioned how important this off-season is for De’Ron Davis. At this point, how would you evaluate the progress that he’s made?
ARCHIE MILLER: Excellent. Excellent progress. He’s done a great job in the classroom. He’s done a great job in terms of when we first started we have to get a couple things done before we can start talking about basketball, and that was conditioning and his body. And he’s done a fantastic job there.
He’s lost close to 20 pounds. He’s moving and jumping as good as he ever has. He has a great confidence about him. I think he feels good about himself. He still has another gear I think he can reach, which is good as he approaches these next three weeks and then he goes home.
But he’s right where he should be in terms of what we’ve asked him to do, and I think he’s gained confidence because he’s worked very hard.
Q. Where are you with non-conference schedule? Is it almost done, and how do you go about it?
ARCHIE MILLER: It’s been, amongst everything, scheduling is obviously very difficult, and inheriting sort of really a blank slate and getting a late start at it, it’s taken some time for us to build it and with some of the things we need to have happen here in terms of games played in Assembly Hall and whatnot.
But we’re coming down home stretch here. Feel like we can get some things buttoned up in the next couple weeks. When you look at the non-conference schedule and some of the things that are out there, whether it’s Seton Hall on the road or Duke at home. Louisville is already out there on the road, and then Notre Dame neutral. Two Big Ten games coming into the first weekend of December.
When you look at the early stretch, we’re really going to be taxed by a three- or four-week period. Not only are we going to be jamming games away, but we’re not going to be home as well. So it’s going to be very, very taxing in terms of getting through November and early December. It will be as many games played at a high level for us in that period of time, maybe upwards of five, to six, seven games played against top 15 or top 25 teams. So we’re going to know where we are heading into December and then we’ve got to jam some more in.
Games being played at home and games being played on the road, it’s been a tough balance. But I think when it’s done, it will be a tough non-conference schedule for us. Will it be glamorous? Probably not. I’m not sure we could have pulled glamorous off right now. But in future schedules years down the line, it will be easier to build around.
We’re also, as most people know, as a league, contemplating 20 Big Ten games which changes the whole format. So scheduling something that’s evolving, changing by the day, and it could get tweaked a little bit more as the Big Ten kind of looks to maybe make a tweak in the conference slate. Which, you put 20 Big Ten games in there, a Big Ten Challenge, a Gavitt game, Indianapolis, I don’t know how many more you can actually schedule at that point.
But it’s been good. I think we’ll get it done here in the next couple weeks.
Q. Will you handle — coaches talk about not knowing what to do with that week off and suddenly everyone’s gotten it in March, do you have an idea what you want to do with that open slate?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think a lot of things have been thrown out, like whether you save one of your exhibition games and play somebody so you stay sharp or save a non-conference game at that point in time. There is so much risk as you’re heading into postseason play. I think the Missouri Valley has done it here for a while, and the Wichita States of the world take that week off. They sharpen themselves up and improve and try to get as fresh and healthy as you can. I don’t think that’s all bad either.
I think as we look at it for the first time here, that week in between or whatnot, we use it as a time to regroup, refresh, and hopefully get a little better at a time of the year when you don’t get much.
Q. When these kids first came here, just talk about what changes you’ve seen up until now?
ARCHIE MILLER: Are you talking about the incoming freshmen or all of them?
Q. All of the kids.
ARCHIE MILLER: It goes from great uncertainty to, in a very quick way, if you’re doing things the right way, put them at ease, and as they get a chance to work with you and they get a chance to watch what you’ve talked about, sort of lay out for them, I think there’s great excitement. And with great excitement and opportunity for some of these guys there is an added sort of bounce to their step. I think we have a group that feels good about themselves right now. I think we have a team that believes there is enough in the room that can do things regardless of what people say because I think they like one another right now. They’ve had a very good off-season. And typically very consistent off-seasons should start you off in a good way.
We have a lot of room to go though. When you start talking about practicing, I haven’t probably ran a practice like yesterday since maybe my first year at Dayton when you’re actually trying to teach them the name of a drill. Those type of things haven’t been done in a while. So we’re all at the beginning stages. But I think this is a group that can handle things. They’re very coachable.
Q. I know it’s a bit of an anomaly, but what is your own thought about having those first two Big Ten games in early December?
ARCHIE MILLER: It hurts you in terms of navigating a non-conference schedule. But in terms of knocking two Big Ten games out in three days, as long as everybody’s doing it in the whole league is fair. And I think it will add great excitement early in December to a couple really big environment games, one at home and one on the road.
That can get you kick started into that month of December as you get ready to open it up in January. When I was in the ACC, they had always played a game in early December, and out of all the games you played in November and December, that one had a whole different feeling.
So I think you have games in early December that have a whole new meaning regardless of who you played before or what you’ll do right after. So there is a real importance in December to be ready. Those two count. I think it will be a good statement for the league at that time too. I think it will be showcase basketball for our conference in early December.
Q. I know it’s early, but can you talk about the state of leadership within the team? The players were in here speaking about how they lacked that last year?
ARCHIE MILLER: They good. I think it really starts with the older guys, not to single guys out. But if you look at a fifth year kid like Collin, you look at Rob’s experience level, you watch Juwan going into his third year, not to single anybody out, but those three guys have been fantastic with their voices.
Some guys lead by example. We have other guys sort of fighting their own fight to be better players and all that. But I think leading by example, talking, we have a good group in that way. Just everything that we’ve done, those guys have responded and tried to do it. Now we haven’t gotten punched in the face or no one’s gotten in the game or been yanked out of the game yet, so that’s how it has to go.
But I feel a couple of these guys feel this is their last go, and they’re going to give it everything they have. I think Collin being really a guy who is really spear-heading and is good. He’s like an assistant. He’s like having a coach, regardless if you’re in the weight room or where you’re at, I think he’s contagious. Really, really fortunate to have his voice around right now.
Filed to: Archie Miller