BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — IU head coach Archie Miller, guard Damezi Anderson, and forward Justin Smith provide their comments on IU’s 84-54 exhibition win over Gannon. Hear from them below.
See our full recap of IU’s win here.
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Transcripts provided by Indiana University Athletics
ARCHIE MILLER: For the first time out in front of the fans and a new environment to play, I think everyone early on kind of realized, boy, there’s a lot of new guys out there, even for myself being from the sideline looking out there at times I was seeing, you’re seeing Trayce and Joey and Armaan and Damezi and Jerome and those guys are relatively really new to what we’re doing and what’s going on in terms of the game. So you have to put it in perspective a little bit.
Missing our back court and our most experienced guys and even having Rob for basically for three windows in the game to play about 12 minutes is all we were going to have him for. Hopefully as they get back that alleviates some of that pressure. As we felt through it, I thought at halftime the guys did a much better job of coming out in the second half and the ball movement was way better. We had a lot of different guys touching it, moving it, and we were able to establish what we aspire to be, which is a team that can get fouled and a team that can play a lot with a lot of different guys out there together.
Defensively, we have a long way to go. There’s going to be a lot of mistakes and whatnot on the film. And part of it is experience level, part of it is the newness, and part of it is there was very little preparation or scouting for the opponent. So we’ll take it all in and we’ll get better and hopefully as we get a little bit healthier, as we move on, we’ll get a couple more guys out there to handle the ball. But some good things. I’m not at all naive to think that this team right now is anywhere near capable or where it’s supposed to be or where it can be. But I think I’m still excited about our depth, I’m still excited about how many guys that we have that we can throw in there that I think can really help us play. And our new guys continue to kind of help add some fire power. So we’ll take the film, we’ll work on it, and from this point forward, obviously, we’re ready to prepare for real action.
Q. You guys fell behind there 29-28. I think you got a timeout at that point. Do you remember kind of what your message was at that point?
ARCHIE MILLER: I mean, probably had to start and stop with playing smart and playing hard and that one stretch after about the first four to six minutes we subbed. As we subbed we had new players come in the game. And my hope is that when we sub, as you look at our group it’s very little drop off, there’s very little change. The game changed with the substitution patterns. So we have to look at that. We just had at times, guys that have not practiced or played the position they were playing in the game today. It was very difficult to do that at times. From a defensive standpoint at times you looked out there and you see Justin and Jerome, those guys are guarding 6-foot guards and that’s the first time they have probably ever done that, so it was a little bit where we’re not applying as much pressure as you want to but realize you have forwards in there guarding perimeter players. So the stickiness and toughness that we needed on the ball wasn’t there, especially in that run. But I thought our offense took care of it in the second half. Our offense moved it and we were much more efficient in the second half being able to handle the ball and do some things than we weren’t in the first half.
Q. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin, their comfort was for their first game seemed to be very comfortable for their first start.
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, both guys have been very, very good from the first day on campus until now. Neither guy’s afraid. And I think Armaan’s the one guy that even surprises me a little bit. He’s been very, very good in our two live action games. And he’s played out of position tonight for 30 minutes and he hasn’t learned one play at playing point guard, but he started the game at point guard tonight due to what we have kind of endured here in the last 48-some hours. But both those young guys are good players. They’re going to add a lot of value here. They’re just learning. And you’re looking out there and you’re mad at them and you kind of get frustrated with them and you’re saying to yourself, like, you never probably really imagined that Armaan was going to play 35 minutes tonight. It’s, like, you thrust those guys in there, they get their feet wet and next thing you know they grow up right before your eyes. I think both of those guys are competitive, they’re winners, they’re good teammates and they’re two really, really important pieces to what we have been trying to do and they’re going to play a big role on this team.
Q. You mentioned yesterday that Rob hadn’t had a chance to do much this month, but can you talk about the thought process was to try to get him out there tonight for what he did?
ARCHIE MILLER: He’s had one practice basically since about October 4th, which was yesterday. So he practiced yesterday, which was very little restriction and he did really well in practice. His comfort level with what he’s dealing with from his abdominal injuries and whatnot was increased. But for us if Rob doesn’t play tonight or get a little bit of action, we’re really starting to set him up where he’s, we’re not going to know how he feels after a game or whatnot. So the plan was to play him between eight and 12 minutes tonight, which he got 13, probably played him a 1:53 too much, I guess. But just the fact that he went out there, which was his second workout and basically two, two and a half to three weeks. So it was just good to be able to have him get in there and help a little bit for those 14. Obviously he’s a big part of what we’re doing and it was really big — Devonte hasn’t really participated but even missing Al, Al played a significant amount of minutes in our Marquette scrimmage. And not having Al was a big difference, just in our team, he’s an older guy, he’s experienced. So getting one of those two back here in the near future, both of them back, that would really help our cause.
But as you look at it, we’re doing with what we got and I think that Armaan and Damezi are playing a ton of minutes, which is good for them. They’re learning. They’re just getting a ton of are reps.
Q. On Justin Smith, 18 points in 20 minutes, three assists, no turnovers, really efficient in scoring opportunities. What led to him to be that efficient in his time on the court tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think he pretty much didn’t force anything. You didn’t see any out-of-character drives, you didn’t see anything forced. I thought his teammates did a really good job of finding him around the basket, especially in the second half he was able to draw some fouls. And then he did a good job in transition getting out a few times, which is where he’s good, and we found him where he’s able to do that. But stepped up at the line and, obviously, 8-9 at the foul line is a really big thing. He drew seven fouls which a positive.
We got to get Justin rebounding the ball a little bit better for us. He got two offensive rebounds in the second half, which was good. But in totality, in the whole big scheme of things, Justin has to be able to rebound the ball better for us overall. But he was pretty good tonight, pretty efficient, not very erratic or anything like that. I thought he stayed within the game.
Q. You talked about you think this team can be defensively — that second half kind of start in particular do you feel like just how important was your defense to kind of trigger some things getting into the open floor, getting some easy baskets?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, we just talked about it. We spent most of our time as a team in there talking after the game. I mean, if there’s ever a group that if they just hang their hat on their intensity level, their toughness level, and committed to the defensive side of the ball with our depth and size, that alone can make us a terrific and tough team to play against. I think the one thing’s a little unique right now is we don’t have the quickness level at the guard that we’re accustomed to on the ball. Rob played a little but tonight, but Armaan is a true freshman and other than that, we didn’t really have a perimeter player on defense. We had Justin and Jerome and Damezi, those guys are running around with those little guys, that’s different for them.
But without question if this team has a chance to reach its potential it has to become an elite defensive team, it has to become a team even with its youth and newness has to become a team that can win with its defense. If that happens, if we become a good defensive team, a team that buys in and believes in it and is hard playing, a lot of the things offensively that you sort of worry about will take care of themselves.
But no, that was the message after the game. Big thing with this group is to understand how important it is and not that it’s never important to every group but if there’s ever a group that can hang their hat and become a great defensive team, this team right here sure would be beneficial to doing it because I think we have the talent and the depth, and we have the experience level in some positions and as these younger guys and new guys get better with what we’re doing, it’s going to be important.
Q. You said that Armaan hasn’t been asked to play a point that much so far. After seeing how he performed tonight, is that something that you might consider going forward with a larger lineup possibly?
ARCHIE MILLER: You know, I think in general Armaan’s going to be best suited playing with a guy with the ball kind of running our team. You have three guys that have experience doing it. You keep it simpler for him.
But right now with what we’re dealing with I don’t see how he doesn’t continue to learn that role and do some things there. We’re not going to be able to play with certain lineups, certain games. It’s just not going to be as effective. You’re going to have to play smaller some games. Some games maybe you’re able to get away with playing big. But to me keeping it as simple as possible for him where he’s really doing the same thing every day and doing the same thing in the game every day is good. For him to be able to come out and play a lot of minutes at the point, it sounds good, but like for him he hasn’t really done that. So I’m proud of him because I think at the end of the day he’ll do what you ask him to did and he works at it, but by no mistake is it by design. I think he’s going to be at his best when he’s with somebody.
Q. I noticed that Joey Brunk started over De’Ron tonight. Is that a position that’s earned as the season progresses?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah. The team that started the game tonight earned it, without question, through 21 practices and a scrimmage game. Joey definitely earned a role starting. But like I told these guys, I don’t necessarily count starters or finishers or whatever, I mean, there could be a different guy every night with this crew and I think that’s the good thing about it.
Q. To go back to Armaan, you said he didn’t know one play. How did he pull it off? How did he manage to get himself in position to get it right and run the offense tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: He had a shootaround this afternoon and sort of ran through a few things for him. He’s smart, he’s intelligent enough to know to figure it out a little bit here where there’s not a ton and it’s not like we’re running a thousand things. And in the second half to make it simpler on everybody playing out of position, we really didn’t run a ton. We kind of just relied on our passing game and moved it and I thought that actually looked pretty good for this time of year with that many guys out there. There was a lot of movement, a lot of action, and we took the pressure, I think, off of plays or, I don’t really know this play because I haven’t ran it before, and we let them play a little bit more, I thought, in the second half and that really helped us.
Q. You mentioned the three areas yesterday of rebounding, free throw shooting, and taking care of the ball. How would you evaluate how it was tonight compared to Marquette growth-wise.
ARCHIE MILLER: Taking care of the ball, I think I don’t really know the numbers at the half. I know at the halftime we talked a lot about our offensive rebounding not being there. We had a lot of guys with zeros, goose eggs there, that changed in the second half.
The turnovers, we had seven, I believe, at the half. We finished with 16, which is six over what we’re trying to deal with right now. We don’t need to turn every it over — some of them were unforced and whatnot.
But the rebounding total ended up being plus-14 on our end, but I think we’re going to deal with a little bit harder rebounding woes. But those are the things we’re talking about. I thought the one thing that our guys did a really nice job with after half was the free throw discrepancy in the first half, them being 6-11 and us become 5-6. You could just tell right away our offense was getting zero done in terms of effectiveness.
In the second half being able to get 24 free throws in the second half was much different feel offensively. It’s a much better feel for our guys. They did a good job there.
Q. Not having Al and Devonte obviously changed things up an up a little bit, but how did you feel your big guys all played well together?
ARCHIE MILLER: Right now we have the ability to play small, whether we want to go with Jerome or Justin in there as a fourth guy around one. But right now we’re kind of staying pat with De’Ron, Race, Joey and Trayce being sort of as a rotation. That can change. Right now with our depth we don’t have the ability to not have those other guys on the perimeter, so they did a fine job. I mean, we’re going to play against more skilled teams. You’re going to play against more perimeter-oriented teams where things can change but that’s where that foul line, that’s where the post, that’s where they’re rebounding. You have to be able to win certain ways and one of the ways we have to be able to win is with Trayce on the floor, Race on the floor with another guy and we’re able to play. And I thought in the second half more importantly, they were able to do that. Where we’re going to get in trouble here early is going to be defensively, covering the three-point line with our front line and being able to cover out and being a be a little bit more pressure oriented, we’re going to have to get better there.
Justin Smith and Damezi Anderson
Q. I think it’s 29 points off turnovers tonight. Do you feel like particularly that strong start to the second half was really triggered by getting out in transition? Just how important is that element of defense to offense for you guys this year?
JUSTIN SMITH: That is definitely a big part. Coach has really preached of letting our defense create our offense. I’d say one of our strengths is getting out in transition, getting easy baskets, so as many turnovers as we can cause and get out and running is definitely going to help us.
Q. Justin, that block you had on Matt Johnson, was there anything that got said there between your old high school teammate?
JUSTIN SMITH: No, I didn’t say anything to him. But it was good to share the floor again and to see him.
Q. Both the freshman had 12 points a piece Armaan and Trayce. What did you guys see from them today that impressed you?
DAMEZI ANDERSON: They just they played hard today for their first time out there. I feel like they did everything they were supposed to do out there for the first time for them to be out there as a freshman. So I feel like they played hard and had a good time.
JUSTIN SMITH: I might also say that they played confident, they were aggressive and they really didn’t really shy away from the competition or really try and be a little bit passive, so they really went at it.
Q. Justin, you had a really good line tonight, 18 points in 20 minutes, perfect from the field, 8-9 from the line no turnovers, three assists. What were the big keys to being that efficient during the time you were out there?
JUSTIN SMITH: I would say justly letting the game come to me. Not trying to force anything, not worry about, really just letting my teammates play, just get open, not — really, honestly, just not forcing anything when it comes down to it. The way our offense is organized it’s very free flowing, just if it happens, it happens and it just worked for me tonight.
Q. For both you guys. Better night from the free-throw line. How did you guys manage to focus in after Marquette?
DAMEZI ANDERSON: We just worked. It was just hard work and then just playing together and being confident in our throws.
Q. Just how comfortable were you the first game where you actually shooting from the new distance. You were 2-4. How did it feel and your thoughts about it?
DAMEZI ANDERSON: Just like a normal three-point line. It’s just a line right there. I just got to contribute and score.
Q. How would you describe the tempo and the flow you guys had the first half compared to the second half of the game?
JUSTIN SMITH: I would say the first half was definitely a little awkward. It was kind of, we were kind of playing together for the first time different lineups, really just seeing what the game atmosphere is like and once we kind of got settled down at halftime we really got into our groove and really got it going and like everything started clicking from there.
Q. Justin, you mentioned how the offense is kind of more free flowing. Without Devonte out there playing who can probably help you guys move the offense how do you guys think you did out there?
JUSTIN SMITH: For the most part, I think in the second half it was definitely much better than the first half. In the second half we really got into our offense, really got moving, really got screening moving the ball. And once we made a couple passes it’s easy to get inside, it’s easy to capitalize on defensive mistakes. So once we get Al and Devonte back that will really help us even more.
Q. How much work at point had Armaan Franklin had and what impressed you about how he ran that position specifically, starting out there and having to do that stuff at that position.
JUSTIN SMITH: Well, when Al had his little knee thing, then, that was like a week ago, so I would say he’s had about a week at the point. And for his first time I would say he did a pretty good job. It’s not easy playing point but he was steady, he got us into our offense, he got us into our sets and he can definitely build from it going forward.
Q. For both of you, how much did it help to have Rob get out, there at least a little bit?
DAMEZI ANDERSON: With Rob out there it just helps automatically because he’s experienced, he had his first year, he started as a freshman, so when he’s out there it just makes everything easier for everybody.