IU Coach Archie Miller met with members of the media Monday afternoon before the IU men's basketball team travels to No. 3 Duke for a blockbuster nonconference game Tuesday night.
The second-year IU head coach discussed the health status of guards Zach McRoberts and Devonte Green, as well as the mentality IU will have entering the contest against Duke.
Mental toughness and confidence will be key for the Hoosiers on Tuesday night.
During his playing career at North Carolina State from 1998-2002, Miller made several stops at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, to play Duke. He recalled one thing about those games.
"Not very many wins."
Miller acknowledged while the arena has "some mystique about it," the talent of the Duke teams he played against in the venue were the reason Duke won the games.
The Blue Devils haven't lost a home nonconference game since 2000 and Miller said his Hoosiers need to approach Tuesday's game with the right mindset.
"I think more than anything you can't make the platform and the stage even bigger than it is," Miller said. "It's Indiana, us. Can we go and execute against a good team, compete against a good team?"
IU has relied on the senior leadership and scoring prowess of senior forward Juwan Morgan in its last two games, a pair of home nonconference wins, and the same strategy looks to be in play against Duke.
Opportunities will exist for IU's young, talented freshmen to have breakout moments in a nationally televised game early in their college career, but Miller also said he wants his team to have confidence entering the tough matchup.
"Anyone that is a little bit worried going down there probably shouldn't go," Miller said. "That's just the way that works. I hope we have a mindset that our team takes the floor ready to go."
McRoberts and Green may return against the Blue Devils, but Miller likes the rotation of players IU currently uses.
The struggles the Hoosiers endured during their last three games coincided with injuries for McRoberts and Green, and it remains unclear whether either player will factor into Tuesday's game.
Miller said both players returned to the court Sunday in non-contact drills, and that McRoberts and Green both would try to practice in a live setting Monday.
"It's probably going to be, at this point in time, just wait, react and see how back-to-back days go for them," Miller said. "If there's any setbacks, hopefully we can communicate, find a way to get one or two of those guys back into the rotation."
Beyond Tuesday's game, IU begins Big Ten Conference play Saturday at home against Northwestern before traveling early next week to play Penn State. So whether both, only one or neither of McRoberts and Green come back to face the Blue Devils, Miller is targeting a return soon for both players.
Miller also said junior forward De'Ron Davis is dealing with a lot of soreness, aches and pains as he continues to try and play his way into shape after tearing his Achilles last season. Davis is IU's strongest option when it comes to having a rim protector on defense and a player who can match up physically on offense against some of the nation's tallest centers.
"We're going to need his size and his experience level and sort of that presence of physicalness as we hit the big stretch of the season," Miller said. "Number one, he's our biggest guy, but two, he can also get you some baskets. He's also a guy that can hold his ground in there."
Despite not playing against the University of Texas at Arlington, Davis has been part of the IU rotation so far this season, although Miller said it wouldn't be a surprise if forwards freshman Jake Forrester or sophomore Clifton Moore begin to see playing time.
Miller thinks the Big Ten is among the best college basketball conferences in the country.
The release of the latest Associated Press college basketball rankings Monday indicate the respect the Big Ten Conference has nationally.
Seven conference teams, highlighted by Michigan at number seven, appeared in the top-25 rankings. Of teams receiving votes but not included in the top 25, IU was sixth, earning 35 votes.
This ranking is the last one to come out before Big Ten teams begin conference play, and Miller thinks the parity of the conference will influence which teams emerge as the strongest.
"I think our league is really on the up and up right now in terms of our depth," Miller said. "I think everything should balance after December. January and February is going to be a real grind."