NEW YORK – Archie Miller, Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson met with the media following Indiana’s 76-69 loss to Rutgers on Thursday night in the 2018 Big Ten tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Watch the press conference below:
A complete transcript is available below:
COACH MILLER: Congratulations to Rutgers. They fought their way out of a really deep hole early. And I thought our team was really doing a nice job. But they continued to fight it through. And got away from us a little bit in terms of composure on both ends.
And halftime felt a little bit different. And the confidence that they continued to play with throughout the rest of the game, you know, really was the difference. They were more forceful in a lot of areas. They took things away from us. And we really just at the end of the day didn’t have an answer for guarding the ball and just doing some things that we were doing really well for a long time.
So you’ve got to give them credit. On this stage you’re playing for a lot. And I thought they played with a lot of confidence. For our guys, I’m really disappointed. Wish we could have done a better job. They gave everything they had all season long through a lot of ups and downs. Saw a lot of guys grow throughout the course of the year and do some things that a lot of people probably didn’t anticipate. From that standpoint I’m proud of them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.
Q. Robert, you guys were doing so well in the first 10, 12 minutes. Did you guys relax a little bit at 24-8 or what do you think really started the downfall tonight?
ROBERT JOHNSON: I think we didn’t do a good enough job of keeping our foot on the gas once we had them down in that type of situation, and they responded and we never did.
Q. Juwan, you guys came out in the second half and you eventually got it back and tied it. They came down and hit a big shot after that. Was it just one of those things where you couldn’t make enough shots?
JUWAN MORGAN: I think it just comes down to us not getting enough stops, not so much shooting because if we were getting stops we would have got out and our offense would have been flourishing, but we didn’t get those.
Q. Maybe you talked about it a little bit there, but you’ve been really good in close games this season in terms of executing in key moments. But maybe what wasn’t getting you guys over the line in some key positions there in the second half, do you think?
ROBERT JOHNSON: I just think we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be down the stretch. And we never really got over that hump where we strung stops together and buckets with those.
Q. Rob, what was it about Sanders that made him so tough to defend?
ROBERT JOHNSON: You know, he was really good at getting to his right hand, and that’s something we talked about. And when we allowed him to do that, he really hurt us. And I don’t think us guards did a good enough job of taking that away from him.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. I know you just lost, but I’m wondering if you had any thoughts on what occurred with your brother today?
COACH MILLER: No thoughts at all, no thoughts at all about what’s going on out there. He is my brother, and that’s big. It’s my family. And anything that’s discussed with them about us is about family and stays within that. But no thoughts on what’s going on in terms of other than thinking about them.
Q. After you had that stretch of the second half, I think 10 or 11 minutes you were only able to make one field goal. Was it guys just not taking good shots, not communicating? What do you think was going on with the offense in the second half?
COACH MILLER: I thought they did a great job of establishing that they weren’t going to let Juwan catch the ball. And usually we can play through him. This team really relies on being able to play through him.
And if you look at how difficult they made him catch the ball, how hard it was for him to play in space, it just became a lot harder for our team to not be able to play through him. That’s one. And then I thought early in the first half when we had things going in a good direction, we had some shot-selection issues that didn’t help us.
And the shot selection in the first half sort of took its toll on us when you could have extended the lead or at least given yourself a chance to play comfortably.
But late in the game, and as we tried to play and we needed to run offense, they eliminated what I thought was our ability to run through Juwan. And after that, our guards — and we needed to be able to make some plays for others and that wasn’t happening. And give them credit. I thought they were in the now. I thought they used great quickness. They played extremely hard. They made things challenged.
But when you’re not able to play inside out and we’re not able to establish our best player, that’s when it comes back on me. We have to figure out a better way to do it because he didn’t have the impact in the game, even with 15 and nine that he usually has in the game.
Q. They shot 68 percent in the second half. That included only four attempts from 3-point range. Did it feel as though you were almost swimming against the current a little bit there? And how would you assess your level of satisfaction with your team’s defense in the final 20 minutes?
COACH MILLER: Well, I mean, you can start with probably the first 12 and say that’s who we’ve been. We had a great connection on the floor. And then I thought our offense sort of gave them some easy ones on the break — turnovers, run-outs. They started to get a little bit of confidence. The lead shrunk.
And in the second half we were not able to stop the ball. We just couldn’t. Whether it was Sanders at the basket. I thought Deshawn Freeman really hurt us throughout the game with his ability to play off the lane and drive.
They were able to do some things one-on-one that we just didn’t have an answer for for the first time in a long time. We just couldn’t answer the bell. 68 percent from the floor in the second half, allowing them to shoot 58 for the game and in all reality still be in kind of in the game for the most part was just disappointing.
I thought just the tougher team won tonight. And at this time of year you don’t expect to have that happen. But we just didn’t get the job done in enough areas and we didn’t respond like we have been responding when we needed to.
But I give them credit. If you look at Corey Sanders’ game tonight, they took away the help. They let him play one-on-one, and I thought he did a great job of getting down hill, also hit some tough ones but that’s back-to-back games he’s done that. He’s a tough guy to stop one-on-one and he got going.
Q. Do you feel like this is the end of the year, or do you feel like this is still a team that could get an NIT berth?
COACH MILLER: I would be surprised. I would be surprised if there’s postseason on the horizon for us, even with a sixth-place finish in the Big Ten, I would be surprised. If something came along the line we would be really excited because I think this team likes to play with one another and they’re a group that’s worked hard to improve, and as improved as any team I’ve been around to be honest with you in terms of where we started and finished. I’d be surprised and if they threw one our way, I’m sure we’d be ready but I would be surprised.
Q. To follow up on that, is there any thought beyond the NIT or —
COACH MILLER: No.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.