BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Archie Miller and Al Durham met with the media today as the Indiana Hoosiers prepare to begin the 2019-2020 campaign tomorrow against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. Here are tidbits from the availability.

Watch the full press conference from Archie Miller and Al Durham

Archie Miller on the opening game

Archie Miller says that the everyone from the team and the staff are excited and anxious to take the floor again. They have a lot of information from the first exhibition and they have worked hard as a group to clean up some of those learnings. The last 3 to 4 workouts have been particularly good with this group.

On the depth and chemistry of the team

One of the key characteristics for this group to be successful is to be deep according to Miller. “There’s a good bounce about our guys, there’s a good togetherness right now, which is good to see.”

On the health of the backcourt

“Back court health has been the biggest concern in the month of October.”

“Robert and Devonte have not been a part of what we’re doing. Although Rob got an opportunity to play a little bit the other day, I think it was widely described as his real first opportunity to play, you know, five-on-five. Post-game, we evaluated him again. He’s taken some time and our medical team has done some other things to try and make him more comfortable. I think he’s as comfortable as he’s been. And as we enter today, he’s part of our plan in terms of practice, which is good to see.”

“Devonte is still out. Time to be determined. With that hamstring, he’s going to take it day-by-day. There’s no rush and the biggest thing with him is to make sure that when he does come back, he’s able to fully engage and we don’t have any setbacks. It’s definitely been a challenge, you know the back court not being together. Our chemistry, you know… reality is our most experience group of players and they haven’t been a part of it, so that’s been a challenge. But it has given Armaan, it’s given Damezi, and it’s given Jerome, and Justin to some extent on the perimeter a lot more opportunities and repetitions.”

“Al coming back. He’s now back engaged in practice after he had to sit last week with a, you know, ten-day period of time where we rested his knee contusion, bruise, whatever it may have been. Getting Al back has been a really, really nice surprise. I think Al plays a pivotal role for us in November, in us getting started.”

“Me as a coach, I am optimistic right now that a lot of these things can hopefully come back together when we’re full strength. But I think the other guys are prepared.”

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On Armaan Franklin’s progress

“As we enter our first game, I couldn’t be more pleased with Armaan in terms of what he’s been able to handle and what we’ve asked him to do. Here early he’s gotten a lot of extended minutes and reps, because of the injuries…looking back on it, would we know as much about him now? Probably not, if things were good. Armaan will play a heavy role here in early November. We have a lot of confidence in him.”

On Jerome Hunter’s first showing

Miller reiterated that Jerome has not played in live action over a year and in reality it was the first time he played five-on-five in front of the crowd. Certainly, there are jitters when you return back into an environment like Assembly Hall. Miller mentioned that Jerome is hitting those shots and has been in practice, but Hunter will need some time get more opportunities under his belt. In the second half, “a more physical Jerome” showed up, which is what the team sees more in practice. Hopefully, Hunter can balance both.

Right now, the goal for Hunter is to get in there and get a feel.

On what the team learned from the exhibition

“We got off to a decent start defensively, that led to our offense… On the back-half, we were not very efficient offensively.

In the second half, Miller liked that the team established their physical dominance and the approach at the front of the rim, which showed up on the box score in the fouls drawn column.

Defensively, Miller thinks the team was not very good in a lot of areas. In reality, there are a lot of a first year guys and guys that have not had a lot of experience on the court. Miller hopes that they improve as they approach the opener.

“We’re gonna be a quest to be the best defensive team that we can be. I think this team knows if we hang our hat defensively with the numbers that we have, that’s the best chance of becoming a really good team, a consistent team.”

In addition to defense, rebounding is also an area for improvement.

Having Al and Rob back will help clean up of the scheme and running of the sets.

On Trayce Jackson-Davis

“Trayce through 25 practices right now is the No. 1 player on our team in practice points by over 100 points. That’s not a slim margin. So he’s doing some things really well for us every day. If he does those things well every day, he’s going to continue to see success. Definitely see Trayce as being a vital part of what we’re doing, an impact players. He’s one of the best players, most talented guys on our team.”

“He’s young, he’s inexperienced, but he’s got to get thrown into the fire. I see him playing as many minutes as he can handle. I think with young front court players, particular early in November, there are some up and downs that’s he’s going to go through. Without question we’re putting a lot on him.”

“He’s energy level, his motor, is the deal you watch with him. The harder he runs the more active he is the glass, the better off he’s going to be, the more active he is and the smarter he is and defensively, the more beneficial he is for our team.”

“So he’s getting ready to get baptized by fire, but he very, very happy with where he is at. His production in practice is the thing we hang our hat on. He’s been able to establish from a practice standpoint that he’s able to really handle some of these areas at an elite level. He can always get better and he’s going to, but without question, his role in what we’re asking him to do, what we expect to do, I think to me is very pivotal.”

On preparing for this season relative to past seasons

“Each season presents different challenges. I feel like this group of staff that we have right now is very locked in arms and also very centered in on how this team has to play.”

“Each season you kind of go in with an expectation of kind of the known. We had a little bit of an unknown with this group of three new players. You have guys coming off injury a year ago, some freshman like Demezi, Jerome who didn’t play as much. You’re kind of hoping your older players, De’Ron, Devonte, Al, Justin. Though guys are your anchors so you’re trying to mesh it. I think what we figured out is we have a group that hopefully there is very little dropoff, which is what we anticipated being from one through eight, through nine, through ten, and at a given time, nine, ten, eight, seven are going to play as big of a role as one, two, three on this team. That’s what we’ve conveyed, and the plan has really been to allow that to grow.”

“Development, trusting your depth, putting it on them in practice where those guys have to do it every day has been the biggest thing that we’ve held our hat on as a staff. I think we’ve shown that the guys that earn the right to — you know, do the right things every day and come to work, they’re going to get an opportunity to help the team.”

“I think that’s a big thing here in November, is how this team evolves chemistry-wise, development-wise. Is everybody on the page. Are you seeing good production even in little minutes or a lot of minutes. So that’s been good.”

“I think from a preparation standpoint, we’ve very, very comfortable and confident that our system can be tweaked at times, and I think we’ve tweaked it. Offensively we’ve tweaked a bunch. We’re very comfortable with what we are doing.”

“Defensively I think we’re learning playing bigger lineups and whatnot, how we’re going to struggle, and at times being able to maneuver into a smaller lineup. Those are things I think we’re very comfortable.”

“So I think as we prepared for the season, as we prepared for this team, there has been a very few surprises. If they have been surprises, they’ve been on the positive. Each game each week will present something. I’m confident though in this group and in our plan that we’re a 100% locked in.”

On the usage of different combinations and lineups

“Yeah, that’s going to be unique. It’s going to be a key. As a staff going into this season more so than anything, there may be opportunities that each game employs a first half script, more of a rotation that we’re sticking with regardless of the circumstances unless there are fouls or injuries where we bite the bullet at times and give guys certain chances or see certain rotations work together.”

“Second half we’ve always been of the philosophy all bets are off. Second half it’s who is going is going to go, and what’s working is going to work and we’re going to stick with it.”

“In the first half to be able to develop your team and see certain things, you have to figure out and give them a chance to do that. So I could see us here early in the season maybe playing a lot guys early, maybe slimming that down as we go through the game, but early in the game seeing different rotations.”

“That could mean runs of good and bad, but I like going into a game knowing we have ten or eleven players that are capable of getting in there and helping you. That’s a strength. We have to accept and our team has to accept that with that being said, there is going to be some sacrifice on that.”

“There is nothing more fun than winning with a group that is committed to it, and you have a lot of different guys impacting the feeling about themselves.That’s the positive, and that’s what we have to be able to bring to the forefront is our team looks at different rotations and lineups and minutes in games.”

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