Brad Underwood addressed the media Wednesday afternoon at his first-ever Illinois Basketball Media Day.
Recent focus has been on the program's recruiting game but with official practices now underway since September 30, attention has shifted to the current roster.
“I feel really good,” Underwood said. “I like this group and I like the way the diversity of this team has fallen into place.”
Stating that expectations are high for this season is an understatement. Underwood comes to Illinois after a successful coaching past with Stephen F. Austin and, most recently, Oklahoma State. His teams have reached the NCAA tournament the past four seasons, while Illinois have not seen a berth since 2013.
Underwood is known for his quick play, and the Fighting Illini have been working on implementing his seven second offense.
“I think this group is trying really hard, if they don't understand they are asking to watch tape or they are wanting to see film of our teams in the past,” Underwood said.
Underwood also made sure to inform the press that he doesn’t care about lineups, but rather having good players on the court.
Freshman like Mark Smith and Trent Frazier could be seeing playing time at multiple positions. The same can be said for redshirt junior Michael Finke, who Underwood expects to have exceptional performances this season.
“I think we are a team that will play hard, said Underwood. “When you play hard for 30 some nights a year, you will win your fair share of games.”
Even with all the positivity, questions still remain unanswered in the last month of preparation. The role of team leader and top scorer are still up for grabs, and all Underwood can do is keep guiding his new team in the right direction.
“All I am is a teacher.”