There were no nerves for Archie Miller in his first game as head coach of IU men's basketball in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Instead, it was just another basketball game for Miller, as well as his first opportunity to reshape the identity of the IU men's team.
While it was just an exhibition game, Miller said he was happy with his team’s effort and IU’s 93-62 victory over Marian University.
After weeks of practice, IU’s defense looked sharp, as it was the side of the ball Miller said his team would have to lean on as they learn a new offensive system.
“It felt good to finally play against an opponent, see where we stand,” senior guard Josh Newkirk said. “That was a great team. They moved the ball well and I think we did a good job defending them and playing to our strengths.”
In his six seasons at Dayton, Miller constructed some of the best defensive teams in the country. He was brought to IU to help fix IU’s defense, and Saturday was the first opportunity for the Hoosiers to show their new defensive approach.
It wasn’t perfect right from the jump for the Hoosiers.
Early in the game, Marian hit some difficult threes late into the shot clock. These threes helped power Marian to an early lead, but IU recovered and dominated the game after the Hoosiers said they figured out they had to be disciplined late into the shot clock.
“I think you saw that at the beginning of the first half, just a couple of breakdowns right at the end, last four, five seconds where they made some threes,” Miller said. “And that’s what we were really harping on at halftime is we had to apply a little more pressure to them.”
Marian hit six threes in the first half, and Miller said a lot of those came when the man guarding the ball got beat in a straight line.
Contesting shots was a point of emphasis at halftime, and sophomore guard Devonte Green said he thought the team stayed more disciplined in the second half.
After giving up 42.9 percent of shots from three-point range in the first half, IU contained Marian from three in the second half. The Knights were only able to hit two threes in the second half.
Marian lacked the size to attack effectively in the post and the Knights were outscored by 22 points in the paint. However, Marian spread out IU’s defense and kept the Hoosiers on the move, which Miller said was a good test for his team. Marian didn’t get out in transition and kept the game in the half-court.
Even though Miller was impressed by his team’s defense limiting Marian to 39-percent shooting for the contest, he still said there were concerns.
“Defensively, how many fouls can we absorb in the frontcourt?” Miller said. “We basically played De’Ron (Davis) and Freddie (McSwain) a little bit in what we call the five slot, but we may need a third guy. Who’s that going to be?”
IU’s team leaned on its defense against Marian, and Miller was encouraged by his team’s performance Saturday.
“Our guys were bought in,” Miller said. “Our guys were trying to do exactly what we’re asking them to do and it’s going to take some time for them to get the chemistry we need. But we know, we’re going to have to be a very, very hard-playing team.”
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