Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller acknowledged Tuesday that he's starting from scratch. Not in terms of his players' skills, but in communication.
The new coach has to quickly get everyone on the same page.
“It's very important that we're driven right now to put a stamp on things, to get an identity started,” Miller said in a media session at Assembly Hall. “You're re-teaching everything. You're re-teaching the way you practice, you're re-teaching the way you communicate in practice. Everything's new. You have to take some time with that.”
Miller said the teaching includes the most basic of things, such as the name of drills he favors.
But for all of the hands-on learning, the new coach likes what he sees in the attitudes of his players.
“There's an added bounce to their step,” Miller said. “This group feels good about themselves right now. This team believes there's enough in the room and they can do things regardless of what people say. …A consistent offseason should start you off in the right way.”
Miller touched on a variety of issues Tuesday.
Here are a few highlights:
* The attitude and shape of senior Collin Hartman. Hartman missed last season after knee surgery and returns as a fifth year senior.
Hartman has been cleared for full practice.
“Having Collin is a huge boost,” Miller said. “He and Juwan (Morgan) are both communicating and talking. You have to have a team that communicates with one another.”
Hartman's maturity elsewhere has been a plus in the early weeks of Miller's tenure.
“He's like having another coach in the weight room or wherever,” Miller said. “He's contagious. We're fortunate to have his voice around right now.”
* Incoming freshmen Al Durham, Justin Smith and Clifton Moore, along with walk-on Vijay Blackmon (transfer from Saint Francis).
“Every freshman has an adjustment with pace and speed and the size of everything going on around them,” Miller said. “Most of the time they're learning how to defend in college against older, bigger, stronger, faster guys. They're no longer the elite guys they were in high school. (But) these guys haven't missed a beat. They're a mature group, a smart group and they're where they're supposed to be.”
* The mental and physical improvement of sophomore forward De'Ron Davis.
“He's made excellent progress,” Miller said. “He's done a great job in the classroom and he's done a great job in terms of when we started. He had to get a couple things done before we start talking basketball. With conditioning and his body, he's done a fantastic job there. He's lost close to 20 pounds and he's moving and jumping as well as he ever had.”
* Scheduling the non-conference games.
Miller said it has been difficult inheriting a “blank slate” and finding the right mix of non-conference games. The Big Ten will have two conference games in December, which is a major change.
“It'll be important in early December to be ready,” Miller said. “Those games count. It'll be a good statement for the league, showcase basketball for our conference in early December.”
* Brian Walsh named director of basketball operations.
Walsh is the latest former University of Dayton coach to join Miller's staff. He has been named director of basketball operations after serving as an assistant director of basketball operations at Dayton.