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Brad Underwood: “There’s an expectation, we’re not running from that.”

Underwood addressed the media for the final time before the season tips off.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Media Day Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois prepares for its season opener basketball game against Nicholls State tomorrow at the State Farm Center. Here’s what Brad Underwood had to say:

  • When you’re going on the road and you face a sellout crowd in GCU and then a historically great program in Arizona, it’s a great test. I’m excited about it.
  • You feel great about having veterans back. You feel great about additions to your program. There’s a comfort around the office, there’s a comfort on the court... There’s an expectation, we’re not running from that.
  • Excited to get this thing up and running tomorrow. Nicholls State is very athletic and they play extremely hard.
  • Most contagious thing going is winning... Winning programs feed off each other. The job [the football program] doing is incredible. We’re gonna feed off that anyway we can.

On the guards:

  • I need those three guys [Ayo, Trent, Andres] to continue to do more. There can’t be a gap or a weakness. Yet, there is something different when they aren’t in there.
  • Trent Frazier was unbelievable. Graded out 0 points against, which is almost impossible to do. He makes so many things easy because of experience and understanding.
  • Da’Monte graded out defensively extremely well. Must get more rebounding from Ayo and Trent.

On Kofi Cockburn:

  • There were some things I didn’t like about the way Kofi played. I thought he didn’t rebound as well as he could’ve. Let about three or four rebounds get away but he did some really positive things as well... All in all, I’d give him a B.
  • Kofi got tired, left a few rebounds out there. He admitted he got tired. I left him in too long.
  • I think that one of the unsung things about Kofi is his passing.
  • [Kofi and Giorgi] are going to play well together, they are extremely unselfish.

On Giorgi Bezhanishvili:

  • We only played Giorgi four minutes and 57 seconds at the five. We played him close to 19 mins at the four spot. That’s got to shift a little bit.

On the bench:

  • I’m looking for as much productivity off the bench as in the starting five. You want some value off the bench.

On maintaining culture:

  • Building your culture never stops. Not everybody’s perfect, but we’re starting to do a lot of really good things... The great teams never stop building that. I feel really good about where our culture is at. When I left practice today, there were some guys getting some extra shots. That is our culture; being an everyday guy.
  • Experience is everything. We’re a young basketball team, but game experience, we’ve been through it... Now we’ve got guys telling [the freshmen] what to expect.
  • There’s expectation. We’re not running from that. If you think I’m going to you don’t know me very well.

On early road games:

  • When you’re going on the road and you face a sellout crowd in GCU and then a historically great program in Arizona, it’s a great test. I’m excited about it.

Underwood did not that Tevian Jones will not be playing in tomorrow’s game.