Indiana vs. Seton Hall: 5 things Archie Miller said

Indiana men's basketball coach Archie Miller looks on during a recent game against Howard in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)
Justin Smith
Indiana sophomore center De'Ron Davis (20) posts up with Howard guard Kyle Foster (11) and Howard forward Marcus Hall (5) during a recent game in Bloomington. (By The Associated Press)

“Welcome to Indiana basketball.”

That line was muttered by fictional coach Norman Dale in the movie “Hoosiers” before he took to the court for his first game as the head coach of the Hickory Huskers.

First-year Indiana University men’s basketball coach Archie Miller could’ve made the same statement as he walked off the Assembly Hall court last weekend after getting shellacked by Indiana State 90-69.

His team bounced back with a narrow win over Howard on Sunday in Bloomington, but now the Hoosiers (1-1) face their first true road test with a game at Seton Hall (2-0) Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (FS1).

“Early in the season,” Miller said Tuesday when he met with the media, “our guys have really had to take on a lot.”

Miller touched on a number of topics Tuesday, here are five of those.

GET READY YOUNG MAN

Miller said that the health status of junior forward Juwaun Morgan (ankle sprain) was still unknown as it pertained to him playing against the Pirates, so as it did against Howard, that means more opportunity for freshman forward Justin Smith.

“He’s going to get thrown into the fire,” Miller said of Smith. “For him, that’s awesome, because he’s going to get live reps.”

The 6-foot-7 Smith got a lot of “live reps” during his 27-minute stint against Howard after Morgan went down early in the game with his injury.

Smith finished with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds, which impressed Miller.

“I thought he did a nice job against Howard,” Miller said. “We also spent a lot of time watching film on how much better he can be, how much tougher he’s going to have to be, especially as we’re getting ready to go to Seton Hall.”

Smith and fellow freshman Al Durham played just 27 combined minutes against Indiana State, but the two combined for 57 minutes on Sunday.

Miller said that graduate student Collin Hartman is definitely out for Wednesday, while Morgan is continually being evaluated.

“Justin is going to have to be ready to go for us as we get ready to approach some of these games,” Miller said. “We are a team that is going to need all bodies on hand because of the nature of the season (with) injuries. It’s going to be tough.”

A PIRATE PARTY

Miller believes his team is going to have to be “tough” because he knows with absolute certainty that Seton Hall will be.

The Pirates are coming off consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and have been projected to finish second in the Big East this season.

“You’re probably playing one of the toughest teams, toughness-wise,” Miller said. “This is a tough team. When you talk to people in the Big East, you talk to college coaches that are familiar with Seton Hall; the very first thing they are going to say is ‘You guys are going to have to be tough when you play them.'”

A year ago, the Pirates outrebounded their opponents by seven per game and much of that was due to senior center Angel Delgado, who averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds.

“We’re not the only team in the country that is concerned when you play against him,” Miller said of the 6-foot-10, 245-pound man. “He does an amazing job. He’s as good of a rebounder as there is in the nation.”

“It’s not as if he’s not doing that to everybody. That’s just what he does.”

Seton Hall has size in Delgado, but also wing Desi Rodriguez (6-foot-6, 220 pounds), guards Myles Cale (6-foot-5) and Khadeen Carrington (6-foot-4), and forwards Michael Nzei (6-foot-8), Sandro Mamukelashvili (6-foot-10, 230 pounds) and Isamel Sanago (6-foot-8, 215 pounds).

“This is a high-major team,” Miller said. “You have (Rodriguez) playing on the wing, he’s an absolute bulldozer. We’re not set up, or built yet, with that type of front court size.”

RELATED STORY:Indiana vs. Howard: 5 takeaways from the Hoosiers’ win

DEFEND THE LINE

In its two games, Indiana has allowed its opponents to not just shoot a high number of 3-pointers (60), but also make them (30). That has to slow if the Hoosiers hope to have a chance against any team, let alone a Big East opponent.

“One of the things that we spent a lot of time talking about (Monday),” Miller said, “as a team is the communication factor. Of the 30 made three’s, I would say that about 12 or 15 of the actual shots that went in didn’t even have to be taken.”

Miller explained that there were a number of defensive breakdowns which resulted in both Indiana State and Howard getting clean looks from long range. “Whether that is communicating on switching,” Miller continued, “whether that’s doing your job in proper technique and ball screen coverage, or whether you’re getting back fast enough and running hard enough to get your defense set.”

“To me, there were probably 10, 12 of those shots that went in that are preventable from even going up if we’re just doing our job.”

DE’RON DEMAND

As mentioned, Seton Hall has great size and ability in its frontcourt, while the Hoosiers lack both in theirs.

It will be imperative for Indiana sophomore center De’Ron Davis to be able to play effectively and at long stretches Wednesday, according to Miller.

“As we play bigger and better teams,” Miller said, “De’Ron is going to have to really be smart about how he approaches post defense.”

With Morgan out, behind Davis is 6-foot-6 senior Freddie McSwain and 6-foot-10 freshman Clifton Moore. Seton Hall is not a positive match-up for either of those Indiana players, so Davis will have to play a lot of minutes.

Against Howard, Davis played a career-best 29 minutes after averaging less than 14 a year ago.

“He gets tired quickly,” Miller said. “From a staff perspective, we have to recognize how long he can go before he gets tired. When he does get tired, we have to get him out. That is important in terms of fouling.”

FAMILIAR FACES

With a new coaching staff, which has new ideas, coupled with the Indiana players mostly having new roles, this early portion of the season is a learning process, according to Miller.

Unfortunately, there are challenging games in which the Hoosiers don’t have the luxury of successfully enduring growing pains.

“Playing together is important for this group right now,” Miller said. “I think we’re searching for an identity on both sides of the ball.”

“Part of it is the identity that we’re trying to create in having a group of people that haven’t played a ton of minutes together.”

Injuries are adding to the dilemma.

With Morgan possibly out, Hartman definitely out, and sophomore guard Devonte Green battling a thigh bruise from Sunday’s game, every player’s role is even more out of whack in terms of developing chemistry together.

“When you play really good teams,” Miller said, “the first thing that stands out is the collectiveness that they have. Right now, we’re individuals searching for how this is going to work, and what it’s going to look like.”

“Until we get a group that’s committed and really understands sort of how we’re going to have to do it together, we’re going to have some ups and downs.”

For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.

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