Highlights from Archie Miller’s radio show

Indiana basketball coach Archie Miller was back at the Bloomington Holiday Inn on Thursday for his weekly radio show. A few highlights from his appearance follow:

— On the process of getting this team in synch: “It’s gonna take a lot of time. That doesn’t mean we’re not trying to win every single game and improve the daily steps, but in most cases we’re teaching a whole new style, a whole new culture, a whole new identity on and off the floor, what we value and how we value it. You’re looking at a group that, at times, is not in synch. … They haven’t had the experience to go through it in big moments. … We’re just at an infant stage. I hope we can speed it up. There are things that we can correct that aren’t that hard.”

— Through three games, IU is averaging 16.3 turnovers per contest. Although Miller is none too pleased, he understands that there is a learning curve that comes with adapting to his offensive expectations: “Every team is probably dealing with sloppiness. You have your careless mistakes or you’re playing too fast when you need to slow down, time and score. We also have turnovers that are a result of not knowing a play, where one guy didn’t know he was supposed to go here and the next thing you know it’s a turnover. We have early-season sloppiness and early-season (lack of) execution. Part of it is the first time through a new system and part of it is a lack of concentration.”

— On IU’s level of competitiveness at Seton Hall: “For the first time since we’ve been together, the halftime locker room had some guys feeling good and confident. Not because of the score, but because, ‘Hey, we did it — we battled for 20 mins, we outrebounded them for 20 minutes.’ … I give our guys credit. I think we battled pretty hard. I don’t think you’re gonna play perfect for 40 minutes, but if we can bottle up what we had in that first 20 minutes, then you’ll start to see some different results.”

— Through three games, freshmen Al Durham and Justin Smith have been pleasant surprises for the Hoosiers. Durham is averaging 10.7 points and 26 minutes and Smith is averaging 9.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 23.7 minutes. “If you had told me that those guys would be in their third game at Seton Hall, playing the amount of minutes and having the impact they had, I would say, ‘Wow, that’s pretty incredible.’ … Those two guys have bright futures. They just have to continue to work. There’s going to be some ups and downs, but we count on those guys as much as any.”

— Collin Hartman continues to recover from a groin injury suffered prior to last week’s season opener. Miller says he’ll be reevaluated early next week: “We’ll be cautious with him because, right now, it’s so early. You want him to be there for the big ones and be there in January and February.”

— A week after inking his first signing class at Indiana, Miller offered individual thoughts on each of his four signees:

  • On Jerome Hunter: “Jerome is gonna be a guy, who in time, is gonna be one of those guys you’ll have to deal with on the perimeter with great length and size. Great skill level. He can really handle the ball. Our hope is we can turn him into a really big, dynamic guard.”
  • On Damezi Anderson: “Damezi is one of those guys that makes putting the ball in the basket look effortless. We’re getting bigger on the perimeter, which is what I really want our team to be about. If you watched Desi Rodriguez play last night for Seton Hall, those are the types of wings we want to have.”
  • On Robert Phinisee: “He’s a floor general, a true point guard. He has great tempo. He doesn’t look like he’s going very fast, but he can turn it on when he needs to turn it on. He can push the ball when he wants to. I think he’s gonna be a guy that we count on being able to set the tone with our defense. He’s 6-foot-1, 175 pounds. I think he’ll play in college at 6-1, 190. He’s a great athlete and I think he’s gonna be strong. He’s really shooting the ball a lot better than I really anticipated. We’re excited about Rob.”
  • On Jake Forrester: “He’s 6-9, 215, gonna be about 230 when he gets here. He’s a hard-playing, tough, athletic guy that our fans will fall in love with (because of) who he is as a player and as a person. He can step away and shoot, he can face-up a little bit, but his greatest gift early in his career will be his motor.”

— On preparing for Sunday’s game against South Florida, which is coached by Miller’s predecessor at Dayton, Brian Gregory: “He’s a terrific coach. He does things, I think, by the book, A through Z on the floor and off the floor. I really think he’s gonna turn South Florida around. He’s got a brand new team and had to restock his roster.”

— A fan asked Miller to define the principles of his pack-line defense: “It’s guard the ball, protect the paint at all costs. It’s field goal percentage defense more than it is about creating turnovers. The four factors are field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense, how much you’re fouling and defensive rebounding percentage. It’s a guard-the-ball mentality and it’s a protect-the-paint mentality. We’re not doing any of it pretty good right now.”

— A fan asked Miller to name his favorite part of Indiana University, besides the basketball program: “The thing that takes me is the beauty of the campus. It’s a place that is as nice as any campus that I’ve been to or any league I’ve been to. It seems to me that our players have a great quality of life here. I think Bloomington, in general, and IU, it’s a great place to be.”

— Another fan asked Miller to explain the toughest habits he’s had to break with his new group of players. “There’s a couple. The two most frustrating things or bad habits for our team is high-risk, high-reward plays — turnovers. Right now, we’re high-risk more than we are high-reward. Take less chances with the ball in your hand, let’s make sure we get a good possession and capitalize with numbers rather than, when you’re on the break or you have the opportunity to make a simple play, don’t try the home run. A lot of people will say hit singles rather than home runs. Right now, that’s who we gotta be. We gotta take care of the ball. The other end of the floor, the biggest thing defensively is our positioning. You have to work in the post. You have to work on the ball, but our biggest breakdowns are off the ball with where we’re supposed to be and when we’re supposed to be there. That takes time.”

— On Rob Johnson reaching the 1,000-point mark for his career: “I’m proud of Rob right now. I know a lot of people are wondering where his shot is, but he’s really bought into what we’re trying to do defensively. He’s played three straight games for us as hard as he can for 30 minutes. As he continues to do that, the other end of the floor will get better.”

6 comments

  1. you’re looking at a group that, at times, is not in synch

    You forgot to capitalize…..

  2. We’re getting bigger on the perimeter, which is what I really want our team to be out.

    And I think that sentence was supposed to finish with “about.”

    Outside of a couple edits, nicely done and informative.

  3. Ben M, if Archie is as smart and perceptive as I think he is, the way his team is currently playing is not a surprise to him. He had to anticipate this. He had to know that this group of players were going to struggle at the start of the season. I am sure it is unpleasant, because he’s a hyper-competitive man, but my guess is that he knew early on that this group of players would struggle to adjust to his style of play. I think he’s looking for signs that the players and the team are making improvements from practice to practice and game to game. He’ll have to take satisfaction in recognizing that his team is getting a little less terrible every day, until they cross over and start approaching good. By his standards, will Archie’s first IU team be “good” at any time during this season? I doubt it; but they will certainly get better.

  4. Wow…Is anyone else tuning in to what Virginia Tech is doing to the Washington Huskies? Ouch. Virginia Tech up 21 barely into the second half. I guess Washington is to the Pac 12 as Indiana to the Big Ten right now….Probably in even more dire circumstances….But I do like the story of the lone top Husky recruit(can’t currently remember his name…but he’s very good) who still decided to be loyal to the city/team when all other top recruits were tearing up their commitments amidst the coaching changes.

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