14 TRUE FACTS* About Your 2012-13 Illini Men's Basketball Team

*TRUE FACTS may not actually be true or factual

A little over 24 hours from now I'll be scouring the internet looking for a live feed of our game against Colgate. And I look forward to it.

However, I'm not really the type to write the kind of season previews that you might expect to see on the blog this week, but I do have a couple of preview type of posts ready for today and tomorrow. And this is the first one.

Sure, you know the names of the players on the Illini basketball team, but do you actually know the players? I'm not talking about them as basketball players, I'm talking as human beings. People. Just like you and me.

Well, in order to bring you a little closer to your basketball team, I've got 14 TRUE FACTS to share with you -- one for each player -- about your 2012-13 men's basketball team.

-- Sam McLaurin, 6-8, F: Sam grew up in northern Florida, and it was there where he began working on his hand-eye coordination as a youngster. How did he do this? By doing the only thing there is to do for entertainment in northern Florida: he wrestled alligators. Not only did his hand-eye coordination -- keeping an eye on the gator so he didn't lose a hand -- improve tremendously, but his gator wrestling also prepared Sam for the post battles in the Big Ten. So if you see Sam with an arm wrapped around Cody Zeller's throat and the other arm over the top of Zeller's head, holding his jaw shut, you'll know why. It's just sound technique.

-- D.J. Richardson, 6-3, G: D.J. was actually a late-bloomer in the game of basketball, not playing the game at a playground or as a member of a team until high school. That's because he spent his early childhood chasing his first dream: becoming the next Mikhail Baryshnikov.

-- Joseph Bertrand, 6-6, G: Once missed two days of practice and class because he was watching a Top Chef marathon on Bravo. This put him in Bruce Weber's doghouse as Weber has always been an Iron Chef enthusiast.

-- Brandon Paul, 6-4, G: Did you know that if you take away Brandon's games against Michigan State (8-10), Northwestern (6-10) and Michigan (4-8) his .333 shooting percentage behind the line last season drops to .269? Did you know that Paul averaged 3.41 turnovers per game last season while scoring 469 points on 370 shots?

-- Mike LaTulip, 6-0, G: While growing up on the mean streets of Arlington Heights, Illinois bullies called him "Mike LaPoolips." He would use this as motivation to become the best basketball player he could be. It also led to his germophobia, as he was always vigilant about making sure there was no actual poo on his lips.

-- Tracy Abrams, 6-1, G: Can name every state capital in alphabetical order while juggling.

-- Mike Shaw, 6-8, F: Once scored 150 points playing only two letters in Words with Friends. Myke Henry hasn't talked to him since.

-- Myke Henry, 6-6, G/F: Is absolutely terrible at Words with Friends.

-- Devin Langford, 6-7, G/F: If there's a televised talent contest, Devin Langford is watching it. Whether it's American Idol, X-Factor, The Voice or Dancing With The Stars, he never misses an episode.

-- Ibby Djimde, 6-8, F/C: Gets incredibly angry when you confuse Mali with Mauritania on a map. Like punch you in the face repeatedly angry.

-- Rayvonte Rice, 6-4, G: Decided to leave Drake and transfer back home after getting tired of people making jokes about how much he liked Drake the rapper, who is absolutely terrible. Is not related to Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

-- Kevin Berardini, 6-0, G: Is Italian, and is therefore smarter and better-looking than you are. Just ask him.

-- Nnanna Egwu, 6-11, F/C: Was actually born John Smith but grew tired of having such a common name. So he had it legally changed when he turned 18.

-- Tyler Griffey, 6-9, F: Despite being born in Missouri, he is not his own uncle.

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