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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, February 08, 2018 9:50 pm

Thursday radio quotables: Miller on Minnesota, free-throws and Justin Smith

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Indiana coach Archie Miller joined host Don Fischer for their weekly radio show Thursday night. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion. 

Miller on...

Freshmen Justin Smith and Aljami Durham: "Well both guys are great guys. They've had their moments this season where they've really, really helped our basketball team and they've had some moments where normal freshmen typically go through. The grind, and the mental fatigue and physical fatigue. Justin's an unbelievable athlete. He's a guy who has to grow his game to more of a basketball player and not just an athlete. His jump shot's gotten a lot better, his feel for the game of basketball in general has gotten better, but he's got to continue to learn to play through contact, and finish around the basket a little bit more, he's got to become a little more skilled with his ball-handling. He's a very committed kid and I think you'll see really good things from him down the line. Al (Durham) is a really intelligent player, IQ. He's struggled with his shot, which sometimes can really take your confidence away. I think he's starting to get that back for us here as he's playing, but he's a smart guy, he plays hard. He's a guy who, over the course of his career is going to win us a lot of basketball games. They'll have big offseasons, usually your big jump is when you finish that first year and go into that second year."

Devonte Green's development: "Devonte's had an up-and-down year. He's had moments all season long where he's been terrific and he showed moments when his concentration hasn't been as good in certain areas. Whether it's taking care of the ball or defensively, just not being locked in. I think, for whatever reason here late January, early February, he's trying his hardest to be more of a playmaker and be more of a guy who has the ball in his hands and is looking for others. And I think that's really helped our team and he's playing probably the best he's played consecutive games in a long time. If he plays well, we have another guy out there, in a lot of stat sheets not just scoring, and that helps us. He's got to be detailed defensively, he's got to take care of the ball and I think everyone has seen he can make a lot of plays."

His team's struggles at the free-throw line: "I think you just have to have a couple games in a row when you make them. It's like anything else, you have to have some success and we're practicing them every day, I promise you that. Nothing's more frustrating to us than when we're missing free throws. Good shooters are missing them right now. You got to step up to the line, you got to make a couple and then that's contagious and I think over the course of the season, the next five or six games, can we shoot our best percentage of the season? (That's) what we're trying to do."

Why the team's defense has improved: "I think we're just staying with it. Obviously it's a heavy emphasis in practice every day, it's obviously a heavy emphasis as we're preparing to play really good teams. I think our guys understand right now how hard we have to play to be in games. It shown, we've played really good teams and we've ended really hard. I think at times we're a little undersized around the basket, which hurts, but I think we went from probably a team that counted on about one and a half players in November and December, like you could count on those guys playing really hard. You knew what you were going to get from an effort level standpoint. Now I think we've emerged to maybe at one time four and a half on the floor at all times that are giving max effort. If we can get all five every single time out there playing hard as we possibly can, that's when a team's getting better. Our defensive efficiency has gotten better through the course of the season. A lot of it just attributed to guys getting more comfortable in the system."

Minnesota, Friday's opponent: "When you look at Minnesota, you have Nate Mason, who's averaging close to 20 points a game and you have Jordan Murphy on the floor, who's leading the country in double-doubles. If you add in the fact that maybe now a really talented freshman like Isaiah Washington is playing really well, they have firepower offensively that they can score. I think they've shown that over the course of the last couple of weeks, they've changed their style of play a little bit, more motion, they're letting their guards really go, and you still have that problem, that one big guy around there, who's getting a double-double every game. So yes, they're very dangerous, I think they can beat anyone on a given night. Our quest is to get back on a winning streak at Assembly Hall. We talked to our team about home court dominance, how important it is to establish that you don't lose at home. We've dropped back-to-back games at home, it doesn't sit well with us. It's not as much about Minnesota as it is our approach to take back our home court. I think that's a big thing moving into tomorrow night's game. It's going to be a very difficult game. I think they have guys who can score 25 or 30 points in a game. They've shown that."

Zach McRoberts: Zach's an impressive kid. He's an impressive player. I told those guys the other day, maybe Coach (Dan) Dakich when we were talking about our team, I don't feel that there's three or four other guys in the league who should be on the all-defense team compared to what he's been doing. His hustle, his effort level, how he impacts the game is incredible. He's just a good teammate. He's really one of the bright spots in terms of our team's improvement, it really correlates with him. I trust him as much as anybody out there right now."

dsinn@jg.net

 

Indiana coach Archie Miller joined host Don Fischer for their weekly radio show Thursday night. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion.

Miller on...