Archie Miller met with the media on Thursday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to preview the start of the 2017-2018 season, provide status on the team’s offseason progress and much more:
Watch the full media availability below:
A full transcript is available below:
ARCHIE MILLER: Welcome, everybody, back. Annual time of the year to talk about what we’ve all been anticipating, which is obviously the start of our first time together. Continue to be really, really excited and really fortunate to be representing IU. Our staff and our staff’s families have been treated with the utmost courtesy and care. It’s a great place to be in terms of living in Bloomington and being a part of something that’s really, really special, and we felt that.
As we’re getting ready to start our first season together, we’re all very, very comfortable here and really focused, to be honest with you, in trying to do the things that we all want to do.
I’ll address college basketball setting right now. That way, I think, we can get some things out of the way. I’m as surprised as anyone, just like 99 percent of the basketball world, about what’s going on. I’ve had very little information other than what you guys have. So I’ll probably stay away from commenting on the actual facts.
When it comes to Arizona, obviously, very prideful there with my family. I’ve been able to talk to Sean only one time very briefly to add my support.
It brings it back to Indiana. Obviously, as a staff and myself, I’ve met with Fred multiple times, and we’ve talked about a lot of things and have no reason to think that Indiana’s involved in anything right now. We’re focused on the task, so to speak, at hand, which running this program was clearly defined on day one and the expectations of doing things the right way. With that, we’ll kind of put that to bed.
First practice as the Indiana head coach on Friday afternoon. That’s really, really an exciting thing for me. Our team has continued to really stay with it. We had an excellent summer together. As you get to the fall, we’re in our preseason mode, which for us, we spent two days a week on the floor as a team in a practice setting. So we’ve continued to sort of build the foundation through the fall. We’ve had some guys do some excellent things, improving their bodies, improving their game, and obviously starting to understand the way we do things, how we play has been interesting to see.
So now that we get ready to start and you’re with them every single day, this is a time that we hope to really take some steps and start to really gain some ground where he can start to see the benefits of playing the style we’re going to play with the people in the right roles. Role definition has really been interesting so far. I think that’s where we are — as a staff, teaching things the right way and then creating roles is something we’re going to try to do here in the next three to four weeks.
I think that the leadership on our team has clearly came back to the same guys. I think our older players have really done an outstanding job of taking the reins of the team, showing by example, and then continuing to improve themselves.
Robert Johnson — I think I said this multiple times — I’ve never seen a guy as motivated physically to be where he’s at right now. He’s probably the best conditioned player that I’ve ever been around, and that’s not to say our other guys aren’t doing a great job. I think Rob has really stood out from a fall perspective and a preseason of really continuing to stay on the course of wanting to have a great year. He’s talked more.
I think that Collin Hartman and Josh Newkirk, two guys that have really brought a spirit when I’m around. The way that they communicate with each other and their teammates brings such a positive vibe, even when they’re not doing well personally, and I think that’s been a big step.
I think that our juniors — and I look at Juwan in particular — and I think that Juwan really has an opportunity to create a new vision for himself from a basketball perspective. He’s a tremendous kid, a hard worker. But I think he’s having to learn a little bit about responsibility of production. He’s going to be asked to do things and get production in a way that he hasn’t, and that’s been interesting to kind of see how he’s developed, you know, not getting down on himself if things aren’t going well because he’s going to be needed to do things, not only with his voice, but his game.
I continue to look at our sophomore class with De’Ron, Devonte, and Curtis as being pivotal guys with different roles that can continue to keep Indiana as a team that’s continuing to compete to win and do things, and those guys have really answered the bell. They all are doing a really nice job for us.
Our three freshmen have stayed as consistent as any group I’ve been around. I think all three of them are terrific additions as people and players. I also think that they have been a very, very mature group on and off the court, which has added a lot of value to our program. They’re very business-like. They care. They work very, very hard, and they’re all learning the game in a fast way. I think the big thing for those guys is to stay the course here early in the year and find their niche.
The other guys have all had great off-seasons and falls as well, from Zach McRoberts to Freddie McSwain to Tim Priller. I know I’m probably missing some guys here. But in general, I’m very, very pleased as we enter practice.
I guess I can open it up right now, and you guys can kind of have at it a little bit. I think that will paint a clearer picture for what we’re getting ready to head into.
Q. Archie, just how do you see the defense shaping up? I’m sure it’s not where you want it to be yet, but where is it at, and where do you need it to be?
ARCHIE MILLER: We’ve spent, I’d say, 75-25 in our team workouts, offense to defense. We’re having the base stuff put in. We’re building. We’re not as sophisticated as we’re going to be, but I think from a base perspective, our team is learning what we’re about, especially in the half-court. It’s an adjustment. It’s really an adjustment. It’s repetition after repetition. It’s technique after technique. It’s film after film from this point forward.
But I think we’ll be a team that hopefully can continue to really improve. Sometimes it’s going to take games. These guys are going to have to experience it in a game, see it on film in a game, and that’s kind of what’s happened throughout my coaching career is you develop defensively as a team just as well as you do offensively. I don’t expect on day one we’re going to be the steel curtain, so to speak, but I think we’re going to be a team that prides ourself on that. Our guys know that. And individual defenders will improve just like they do on offense.
But we’re sticking to the script. We’re starting — we started in the summer, and we’ll be here in the fall. I think from our practice perspective right now, we’re going to try to be great on both, but we’re spending an abnormal amount of time on it.
Q. Archie, what areas do you feel really confident about this team? What are some of the real challenges that you think you face heading into the season?
ARCHIE MILLER: I would say that some of the things I feel good about is I feel like having a physically strong backcourt with Robert and Josh and Devonte and Curtis and a young Al, that’s a five-man crew that I feel is sturdy, strong, and should be able to compete on both ends of the floor regardless of who we play.
I think shooting is something that I’m hoping can be a strength. I’ve watched our team over the course of the spring and summer and fall. We have a lot of guys right now, I think, that take some pride in being able to shoot the ball. So I think we can stretch the floor a little bit.
Concerned is, obviously, going into things, learning how to win doing things our way. They’re not going to understand how to win doing things our way yet. Being able to compete and win tough games on the road or at home or early in the season, we’re not going to be as familiar or as good with our stuff as we would have been normally if it’s a team that’s been together two or three years.
When you look at our frontcourt depth, that’s definitely something you have to keep in mind in terms of how deep are we really in the games when it comes to the frontcourt with fouls and whatnot. So developing a rotation there and having guys that can maybe play multiple positions is something that we’re considering.
Q. At the point guard position, or at least ball handler for triggering the offense, Josh Newkirk got a lot of time there last year. Just what are you looking for from your point guards? And who kind of emerges as guys that are going to be able to run things?
ARCHIE MILLER: It’s ironic. Josh has clearly established himself as a clearcut point guard. I think that everybody else on our team can play a couple spots. I think Josh is primarily a point guard. That position for us is essential in running the show. You’ve got to be able to push the ball, and you’ve got to have great tempo, but you also have to be able to play smart when you’re playing fast and be able to control it and playing with low turnovers. I mean, that’s really about it.
Guys who I can potentially see at point guard, Al Durham for sure. Robert could potentially see some time there. And I’m honestly thinking about looking at Devonte in some situations with the ball in his hands as a point guard just because I think Devonte can really be creative at times off the bounce and can create things for he and others.
But primary roles right now, I see Josh, and I see — you know, as I named them, those guys all playing a role, and we’ll have to see how it goes.
Q. Just as far as role definition, do you see any similarities with this group and some of the teams you’ve coached in the past as far as guys that can play multiple positions and guys that can space it out a little bit?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think so. We had a lot of versatility at Dayton just because we were undersized, and I think we have some of those guys here. You’re going to look to see guys like Juwan being able to stretch the floor for you. Can a guy like Justin Smith as a young freshman play multiple positions? I don’t know. I think Zach McRoberts adds value at that, can do a lot of good things playing multiple positions.
But we’re going to give our team the freedom early to experience some mistakes with multiple ball handlers in transition and a lot of guys handling the ball in half-court that maybe they haven’t done as much in the past. But, yes, similar. We have some guys that can really do a lot of different things.
Q. Just to circle back around one more time with the broader issues you were addressing with college basketball up front. Does any of this kind of change the way everything works day to day for you right now? Do you talk to players about being more careful? I know there’s just so much that’s kind of uncertain at this point. Does any of it change sort of the way you go about it day to day, or do you just kind of stay abreast of it and just do things business as usual?
ARCHIE MILLER: We’re business as usual here. I think, just in regards to us and our staff, we’re business as usual. We’re approaching things very, very similar to the way we do things day to day. I think everyone’s probably taken a step back and is obviously a little bit reserved or a little bit guarded.
But as you look at your own players and whatnot, you have to remind them with great urgency to do things the right way. I don’t have any reason to believe they’re not.
Q. Archie, I’m curious about Clifton Moore. You mentioned the frontcourt depth, and at that point, kind of the development you’ve seen out of him since he got here and where you maybe envision him fitting in in the frontcourt this season.
ARCHIE MILLER: Cliff is — the one thing Clifton has really done is he’s put on about 14 pounds since the first day on campus. So he’s right around 220 right now. And that’s helping him, but he’s still not strong enough as — because he’s so young. He’s such a young kid.
But he’s got to learn the game as a frontcourt player on both ends of the floor as a freshman. The physicality standpoint is a little different for him right now. And then from an offensive standpoint, put him in situations where he can be successful and where you can use him.
I feel as though Cliff, because of the way he works and is gifted athletically and talented, will show glimpses as a freshman of what he can be. My hope is that he can help us with multiple positions in the frontcourt with our depth, and I think that, as the season applies into January, February, March, you can see a guy really blossom into what we think is going to be a star here one day.
But early on here — I don’t want to say he’s wet behind the ears or a little young, but he’s like a slippery guy on ice skates out there at times, just getting his footing. But you’ve seen him go in big, big jumps week to week where he is. From a conditioning level, from a mobility standpoint, he’s as gifted as any player I’ve ever been around, and I think that speaks volumes. His length is something that you can’t really judge offensively and defensively in terms of being able to make some plays.
So he’s got great attributes that he can be good, but he’s got to learn the college game like every young guy does.
Q. Who do you feel are most likely your three or four best offensive players, the guys you look at to get the offensive production at this point?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think De’Ron is a very gifted offensive player for all the things that people want to see in frontcourt players, jumping, all that good stuff. De’Ron has terrific footwork, amazing hands, and great touch. I think he can score the ball for us. I think Robert is a proven scorer over time in his college career and will continue to do that.
With minutes, and how it’s dispersed, I think that Juwan has to become an offensive threat. Juwan has to become more of an offensive minded player from a production standpoint. He’s got great skills. I think he’s got to do it consistently over the course of some months. I think Juwan has the ability — not that everyone can’t score, obviously.
I look at Devonte as a guy that can get his own shot, a guy that create for himself off of ball screens, and get to the basket and get fouled and whatnot.
As I look at the shooting on our team, guys like Curtis, guys like Collin, those guys have made shots in workouts and whatnot. So you always have the ability with shooting on the floor to get a guy that can stretch it a little bit. I’m probably leaving — like I said, you always leave some guys off. You look at a guy like Josh, Josh finished the season last year really strong, scoring about 10 a game.
But from a pure, how are we going to operate getting scores, I look at De’Ron, I look at Robert, I look at guys like Juwan as being guys we can really focus in on sometimes and get them touches.
Q. Talk a little bit about Collin Hartman. What makes him so special, and what have you seen from him in the off-season? How’s he coming along?
ARCHIE MILLER: He’s got a great attitude, number one. He’s got a great feel and IQ for the game. He understands how to play. He’s smart. And I think physically he’s — from what I can tell, just not asking him, physically, I think he’s confident, which is a good thing. He’s in great shape. Just looking at his mobility and whatnot, I don’t think he’s a guy that’s a little bit tentative. I think he’s comfortable right now with who he is in terms of mobility.
I think it will take — like I said, it’s going to take some time to get through five-on-five playing to get his true rhythm back. He definitely has a great feel and IQ. You can tell he’s smart. But attitude more than anything, leadership unquestioned. Every day you know what you’re getting.
Q. That 2 1/2 week stretch — Duke, Michigan, Iowa, Louisville, Notre Dame — have you ever been through anything like that in a nonconference slate? And how interested are you to see how these guys respond to those 2 1/2 weeks?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, this is probably as challenging of a schedule as anyone has probably ever faced just due to the fact of the condensed schedule, the advance Big Ten games early in December, and the amount of games that we’re going to play in between. It’s going to put a real tax on the bodies.
But early, our nonconference schedule is one of which that’s going to provide a lot of information on what we’re going to need to do to be successful through the course of the regular season in Big Ten play. You’re playing against legit, high major teams who have really good players, great coaches. You’re not always going to be at home, and we’re going to get, so to speak, punched a lot.
We’re going to figure out how we respond to those things. We’re going to figure out how we can improve from those things, and we’re obviously going to go into games with a group of people that have their antennas up. You’ve got to be ready tonight, or it’s not going to work out well for you.
But I think it’s definitely as challenging a schedule as we’ve had, and I think it’s going to teach us what we’re going to need to be this year.
Q. You’ve coached some New York City area guards before. Do you see some of those same traits in Devonte Green? And I also wanted to ask you how Race Thompson is doing.
ARCHIE MILLER: Devonte, yes, he’s definitely an East Coast guard. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself. He’s got a lot of city in his game, in terms of how he maneuvers, plays. He’s got a lot of style. Now, we’ve got to take a little bit of the style and tone it down. Just to get a layup, it doesn’t need to be that pretty type of thing. Or don’t try to make the play every single time.
But he’s done a really nice job, and I think, in identifying him here early, he’s a guy that I think he can really thrive with how we play. He’s got to do it within our framework, but I think he can. He’s definitely got a little East Coast to him. He’s competitive as well, especially in the practice setting.
The thing I like about Devonte, when focused, has been tremendous defensively. He’s given me great confidence that he could be an Indiana defender, maybe here earlier than some of the other guys. He’s got great instincts, great quickness, physical, tough, and I think just more so than anything, when you look at both sides of the ball, I think he’s got some of that.
Race has done a phenomenal job, very difficult challenge enrolling in school, no summer. You have to basically take on what these other freshmen did for six weeks, and you have to do it right away. He’s done a great job. One, he’s got to rehabilitate, rebuild, and recondition his body. He’s a high school senior, and he’s gotten through 30 days, and he’s done a good job with it. But he’s got nine, ten months ahead of him where that’s going to be a big priority.
He’s gotten off to a great start off the floor in school, and he also is a tremendous kid. So we’re happy about Race’s development. The thing I like about Race right now is he’s being thrown in the fire and being asked to do a lot, and he’s getting better. He has shown great feel and IQ for a young frontcourt player. Can really pass it, can put it down. He’s going to be a three-point shooter in his time. What he lacks right now in maybe some mobility and athleticism, we’re hoping that in the ten months that catches up to him and his body is stronger.
But in terms of understanding the game, for a young guy being thrown in the mix, we’ve been really impressed.
Q. I know you touched on the schedule a little bit and how tough that’s going to be, but is it tough trying to find a realistic expectation for this team right now? I know you said it’s kind of an adjustment. Is it tough to find that expectation and set that expectation when everything is so new for everyone?
ARCHIE MILLER: Great question. It’s difficult for our staff to put expectations on anything. The expectation for us right now is to do things properly every phase of the day and let that sort of carry over and become our habits.
We’re not going to win any games right now. What we have to do is become the best team we can be. We have to become a team that’s more familiar, not only with one another, but chemistry. You know, you have to have chemistry. Guys have to know where they’re at, where they’re supposed to be, what they’re supposed to be doing.
So developing great chemistry, developing great competitiveness, and getting better at the things that we have to do to win games is the continued process. It’s just day to day.
And I think, as we get to the games, let’s see where we’re at. But the expectation level for us is to be ready every single day, and that’s going to be a great way of getting started that we’ll be ready to play when the games start.
Q. I think it’s fair to say that Indiana has a sophisticated fan base in terms of folks that have watched a lot of basketball. What can they expect to see, if you can go into a little detail, whether we’re talking about back line, man-to-man, whatever? In terms of your preferred approach to play with this team, what can they look for stylistically and schematically?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think, number one, I’d love for our teams to be identified as hard playing. We have to be a team that plays hard. Learning how to play hard through wins and losses is something that’s very difficult to do. One thing that great teams do, regardless, they’re never out of the game. We have to become, number one, a really hard playing team.
The other thing is we have to be a team that’s really connected, a team that plays hard, that covers for one another, that’s very aggressive and you understand the guys behind you have your back and you’re allowed to be aggressive.
From an offensive standpoint, great spacing, hopefully, great tempo and pace, and the ball moves — not just moves around, but moves in and out. A team that hopefully can establish, a team that plays inside out, that moves the ball, that has great spacing. Pace of play, movement, defensively great effort, and hopefully great connection.
Q. I know you said you talked with athletic director Fred Glass a couple times about this, but I think a lot of people are looking at the Adidas connection here at the school. What kinds of things did you guys talk about, and what did you — how did he assure you, or did you assure him, that this, in fact, was a clean program?
ARCHIE MILLER: Fred and I have discussed things from the first day, a conversation on the telephone. They’ve always been the same. I think our relationship with Adidas over the course of not only his tenure but his short tenure has been great. We look forward to continuing it. But we have no reason to believe anything else.
Q. You talked about De’Ron, and you’ve talked about De’Ron since the spring, but I know you’re still kind of gearing up for full practice. As you think about kind of the De’Ron you worked with in the limited workouts in the spring and the one that you’re getting ready to see here when practice opens, what are the biggest differences in your mind?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, the biggest difference for De’Ron is going to be to do it every single day. You have to be able to bring it every single day. You can’t have a couple good days, and then all of a sudden, you kind of tail end. So the effort level and the ability to do it from the start to the finish with great consistency and technique and not taking plays off. That’s a big thing for him. Not being lazy, at times, defensively, you know, things like that.
We’ll be really on top of De’Ron in terms of the technique and the effort level because, when you don’t have those two things, you foul, and we can’t afford that from him.
From an offensive perspective, he has great feel. We have to be able to get him the ball. I think the more he touches the ball, the better our team will be because he can pass, he’s got great feel. I think he can score the ball and get fouled. But he also to me has a presence. To me, I’m really hopeful that De’Ron, in talking to him, is ready to try and take this on because it’s not going to be as easy as he thinks it is.
I think his conditioning level is a thousand times better. I think his intelligence on what we’re trying to get him to do is really starting to move in the right direction. But it’s going to be a lot of pressure applied to him from our staff for being where he’s supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. The laziness and the lack of effort in terms of running the floor back on defense or offense is going to be the difference between you playing 25 minutes and 16 minutes in some games. So that’s an understanding of how hard he’s going to have to work within our system.
I think that De’Ron’s ready, and I look forward to watching him develop. I think he’s got a great feel for how to play the game on offense. We’ve got to get him to do is be really, really smart defensively.
Q. Coach, you mentioned Devonte Green thinking he can be an Indiana defender. What do you define as an Indiana defender? How do you envision that?
ARCHIE MILLER: Kind of hard to show you, I guess, without video. I think, when you see it, you know it. After watching our guys at Dayton under our tenure there, any Dayton defenders, you see the talent level. You see sort of the mindset at times where a guy is obviously very, very calculated and is smart and can get places at times. You see the toughness, and you see the approach that, as a coach, you want to see — working, in a stance, down. And also feel, IQ, can talk and communicate.
Kind of hard to show you without film, but I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I’ve seen guys really, really work defensively in my time in coaching, and I think he’s a guy that has the talent to do it.
Filed to: Archie Miller