Miller’s toughest summer task at Indiana? Completing the schedule

 

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Archie Miller’s trickiest summer job might be piecing together Indiana’s schedule.

Inheriting only a few locked-in matchups for next season, the Big Ten’s decision to play two conference games in early December, the conference tournament coming a week before Selection Sunday and the possibility of playing 20 conference games in future years have all complicated matters for the Hoosiers’ new coach.

“When you look at the non-conference schedule and two Big Ten games coming the first weekend of December, it’s going to be very, very taxing getting through November and December,” Miller said Tuesday before one of the team’s summer workouts. “I think when it’s done it will be a tough non-conference schedule for us. Will it be glamorous? I don’t think so. I’m not sure we can do glamorous right now.”

Miller takes over a team that lost its opening NIT game and then lost three of its top four scorers — two of them underclassmen who were NBA draft picks.

Only three players on Indiana’s roster started 20 or more games last season, and the new schedule doesn’t give the Hoosiers the usual two-month initiation period to get acclimated.

Indiana already has booked two road trips — one to Seton Hall for the Gavitt Tipoff, the other to Louisville. There’s also a home game against Duke in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and a neutral court game in the Crossroads Classic against Notre Dame. Indiana fans are still clamoring for future games against Kentucky, and Miller has discussed the possibility of facing his brother, Arizona coach Sean Miller, sometime down the road.

 

But that may become more difficult now that the Big Ten has decided to play two conference games in three days on the first weekend of December.

“It hurts you in the ability to schedule non-conference games,” Miller said. “But I think it will add a lot of excitement to it. I think you’ll have some games in early December that will add some importance, and I think it will be showcase basketball for our conference.”

The other end of the schedule is equally challenging.

With the Big Ten Tournament heading to Madison Square Garden in March, the championship game will no longer be the final big game of selection weekend. Instead, it will be played one week before the NCAA Tournament pairings are announced, forcing Miller and other Big Ten coaches to reassess how to handle a weeklong break.

“I think there’s been a lot of things thrown out, like do you save an exhibition game or a non-conference game for that week,” Miller said. “But there’s so much at risk. The Missouri Valley Conference has done it for a while and Wichita State has used that week to just sort of sharpen yourself up, and I think we’ll try to use it that way.”

The Shockers used that extra week to start preparing for Miller’s Dayton Flyers last spring. Wichita State won the game and eight days later, Miller accepted the Indiana job.

Miller doesn’t have a timeline for when the team’s schedule will be released.

“Inheriting sort of a blank slate and trying to build has taken some time,” he said. “We’re coming down the home stretch here.”

Notes: Forward Collin Hartman has been cleared for contact after missing all of last season with an injured left knee. Miller said the Hoosiers will not rush Hartman back and that “mentally, physically, he feels better than he has in a long, long time.” … Indiana has named Brian Walsh the director of basketball operations. Walsh spent the last three seasons with Miller at Dayton. Walsh played at Xavier and Akron and led the Mid-American Conference in 3-point percentage (43.4) as a junior.

 

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