Indiana coach Archie Miller took the podium this morning at Big Ten media day at the Hilton Rosemont Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.
Watch Miller’s full comments and read a transcript of his comments below:
Transcript below via ASAP Sports:
ARCHIE MILLER: Excited to be here at Big Ten media day. It’s always great to get started here. It’s such a phenomenal league, and the conference race is always such an exciting thing, not only for the players and the coaches but the universities, the fan bases. It’s just a phenomenal thing to be a part of.
So to be here today as it gets kicked off, it’s always good to be here, and excited to get back to our team later here in the week as we continue to keep preparing to build this group and approach the season with a lot of optimism.
Q. Having been a player yourself and now coaching one of the biggest brands of college basketball, what’s your thoughts on the new California bill?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, I mean, there’s a lot of different opinions out there, from obviously university leaders, administrators, long-tenured coaches, to the college student-athletes themselves. I think there’s a lot that’s going to go into it, and there’s a lot of unanswered questions.
I think the big thing is that in today’s day and age, if you’re not evolving, if you’re not forward thinking, you’re standing in cement, so to speak. The days of what was once always the way to do things and good, in 2020 maybe isn’t the way to do it. And I think that there’s a lot of bright people in a lot of rooms that are going to get together and make the best decisions possible hopefully. And number one is to take care of the student-athletes the best way possible, protect the game, protect the universities, and to continue on with an unbelievable product. I think that’s step one.
You know, if you can make a young kid, student- athlete’s life a lot better, if they have the ability to take advantage of it, then we should be able to do that at some point. But there also has to be consideration for the overall good of the game, the overall good of collegiate sports and the universities in general. There’s a lot that goes into it.
Me, in particular, I was a student-athlete. I know what it’s like to play. I know what it’s like to play on TV and get all the perks that go along with having your face out there and all that stuff. And I think in my time, I never probably realized who actually made money on those names, on those faces, on those games, jerseys, newspapers. I never really thought of it that way. Now it’s a different age. It’s a different time. So there’s a lot more to think about when it goes into it.
But you know, I think there’s a lot of smart people in a lot of rooms, and hopefully at the front end it’s about the players, it’s about the student-athletes, doing what’s best for them. And then we’ll move forward, and let’s keep the game going in a positive direction.
Q. As far as your front line goes, the options you have with a number of guys 6’7″ and taller, how do you approach that? How do you want to maximize what you have up front?
ARCHIE MILLER: It’s a good question. I think the strength of our team and some of the experience level of our team and talents, it really starts on paper with the size and the ability to hopefully play an inside game. We have a lot of different guys that I think can play together. That’s exciting. And I do think we have a lot of different guys that are able to contribute, whether that be a freshman or whether that be a fifth-year senior, fourth-year senior, whatever it may be. We have a lot of guys that expect to play. Our staff expects them to play. So I think one, competition. Earn everything is always the best way to do it. That’s always how we’ve done it, and I think there’s great competition level to get on the floor and to play minutes.
I think the second thing is to play a lot of guys. For us to be able to maximize our talent, for us to be able to maximize our production, we have to get a lot of different type of contributions. And like I said, when you have a stable of guys, you have to have the ability to use them. You can’t play just one or two and say this is how we’re going to do it. You have to have versatility in your lineups. You have to have competition and give guys the rope to get out there and play. And I think with what we’ve got going on right now, I like it. I think that there’s a group that should take some pride in us having one of the best front lines in college basketball, and that adds in even the Damezi Andersons and the Jerome Hunters of the world who are 6’7″ plus. Jerome, quite frankly, is every bit as big as Justin Smith.
So we have a big, strong, long group that in my opinion has some versatility, and we’ve got to get the most out of it by having them challenge each other every day. But without question, I think that’s definitely something we have to find a make that a strength.
Q. Trayce Jackson-Davis has been mentioned on a few preseason freshman player of the year type lists. Can you talk about incorporating freshmen into your team and what you may have learned about that in the past few years here at Indiana?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, whether you’re at Indiana or anywhere, young people take different paths to the floor. We’ve always played freshmen, our staff has. We’ve played freshmen here in our first two years, whether that be Al Durham or Justin Smith as a true freshman played. Last year’s crew had a number of guys step in with Robert obviously coming back as a sophomore, playing a lot of minutes.
This year’s team will be no different. Our two true freshmen, Trayce and his counterpart there, Armaan Franklin, both have been fantastic since they’ve stepped foot on campus in terms of their ability to do what we’ve asked them to do, fit in, and be productive. And I think through our first couple workouts here, looking at things, I think both guys have a chance to really impact our team.
Obviously Trayce coming in, being a McDonald’s All- American, there’s a lot around him in terms of accolades and hype. But right now he’s been very, very humble in the way that he’s worked, in the way that he’s fit in. Very, very proud of him and Armaan both in the way they’ve approached things. They’ve been as good as any player on our team in terms of our fall camp and what we’re doing.
Now, there’s a lot of learning. There’s going to be a lot of strength and weaknesses about the grind of college basketball, playing in games for the first time, playing against older players, scouting, all that stuff goes in. But both those guys not only have to contribute, but they can impact our team. And I think that’s the exciting thing for us is to keep recruiting young players that obviously we’re bringing in to play right away.
Q. Getting back to the California law, is it fair to say that you think it’s an issue that needs to be settled on a national level and not on a state by state basis?
ARCHIE MILLER: That could be a little bit bigger than me. I’m not as well-versed, to be honest with you, in exactly what the pros and cons, the ramifications of each state to state, each university to university. But I would say this: When you’re dealing with collegiate sports — or specifically us, men’s basketball — what you’d like is for everyone to have an equal say and obviously have their opportunity. But definitely probably — however it’s going to work out, for the good of the game, it needs to be governed, needs to be looked at as a wholesale thing, not as an individual thing.
But, again, I’m probably not as well-versed, that educated right now on the grand specifics of how each state handles it and what the NCAA is able to do. We’ve got a while to figure it out, and I know the fact that it’s on the forefront right now means there’s going to be some really, really important people to the college game in terms of administrators, presidents, commissioners, they’re going to have their say. They’re going to do the best they can to help everyone.
Q. You brought up Damezi. We covered Damezi in high school. He didn’t get a lot of playing time as a freshman. He was a superstar in high school. What’s it like for him now to know that it’s his time to get on the court and really shine?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, Damezi is like a lot of young guys that come from certain situations and they walk into uncharted territory and you’ve got to learn the ropes. I think the great thing about Damezi is he’s a fantastic kid. He wants to learn. He’s very coachable, and just in his communication in this off-season and what we try to do with him, he’ll be the first to tell you that he had a lot to learn, and there’s some things he needs to do better.
But I’ll tell you what, he went to work on them. Right now he’s as big and strong and as well-conditioned as he’s been. He’s a 6’6″, 220-plus pound guy, can shoot the ball for us. He’s going to have to bring that to the table for our team.
But for him more importantly and watching him as a sophomore, it’s just a much different feeling for him. It’s not the first time he’s went through it. He now has the advantage of going through a year under his belt, and he knows what we expect of him. He kind of knows right now what he’s going to need to do to help our team. And I think everyone from players to coaches feel that he’s going to do that, and we’re excited for him.
But he has an opportunity right now to really grab a hold of a role, and he’s got to do some things better than he did in year one. But I think he’s much more equipped mentally to do that more than anything, which is what you want from your young players, to grow and to keep playing better. Damezi has done a great job as we’ve finished last year and as we’ve entered into this October of having a good way about him. And just in watching him practice even yesterday, he’s a much different player, he’s a much different guy out there than he was as a young player as a true freshman.