home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 11, 2018

Brad Underwood

Madison Square Garden - New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined at the podium by Illinois head coach Brad Underwood. Brad enters his second season at the helm of the Fighting Illini.

Coach, welcome. If you'd like to begin with your opening statement, then we'll open the floor for questions.

BRAD UNDERWOOD: First, I'd like to pay respects to a guy that I got to know as a Kansas State player and coach, a guy that I studied a great deal, a guy that spent a great amount of time in this city, the passing of Tex Winter, truly one of the great innovators of the game, one of the creative minds, a guy that had a tremendous amount of success at every level. So I felt I needed to pay the respects to a guy I admire a great deal.

I'm excited. This is the youngest team that I've been a part of since I was a junior college coach and had a team every year of all freshmen. That's exciting. It's brought a youthful exuberance to our practices. It's a group of guys that is helping lay a foundation. I feel very, very good about the fact that what we're doing is laying a tremendous foundation for the future with this group.

They're talented, yet they're a group that has done nothing but win at previous levels. A group of freshmen, junior college transfer in Andrés Feliz, a transfer in Adonis De la Rosa, and that mix with four guys who, albeit pretty young in terms of playing time and playing experience, have done a great job in providing leadership for these new guys, establishing our culture of what we want to be about.

I think we're developing an identity. I think that's something that we strived very, very hard for. I'm really excited. It's a year that we play the toughest schedule in the history of Illinois basketball. We have 27, 28 high major games. Strength of schedule sure won't be a problem for us.

It's about growth for us. That's something that we're getting better at every day.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. We'll open the floor for questions.

Q. Obviously you can't change your program completely in a year, but with the changes that have happened, how does this team more reflect you as a coach?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well, I think we are becoming -- we talk a lot about being position-less and versatile. I think the one thing that we have worked very hard at is we have a lot of different pieces. We have a lot more size on the perimeter. I think that our skill set is one that I really enjoy. This is a very, very good passing team. Our basketball IQ, I'm having a lot of fun with that because it's pretty high. Yet we haven't had all of our pieces in practice. We've had some minor injuries. Adonis De la Rosa, we get him back. Seven-footer, he provides a different piece to us.

We're getting there. It's versatile. You'll see us play maybe at different times three point guards in a lineup. The versatility that I like is there, and the skill set I'm really positive about.

Q. You mentioned Adonis. Can you talk about what you like about him as a person, as a player, how you see him fitting in.
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, I'll refrain from how I see him fitting in until I actually see him on the court.

But he's quietly become one of our leaders. I've called him a basketball savant. I've never been around a young guy that has not participated. He knows everything that we did last year. He knows every call, he knows every play. He's got it on his iPad. He's in front of it. He's coaching guys when he's not practicing. He's a very, very loyal, very committed person to our program. He's worked extremely hard. He's dropped 30 some pounds since he's been here.

I've been very, very impressed with Adonis to this point.

Q. Obviously you have a really young team. Trent is a young guy, but what role are you expecting him to have in leadership? What have you seen so far from him, the steps he's taken from last year?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: I think one of the hardest challenges is you have a freshman that has a lot of success, and you're always curious as to how they'll react to that. The one thing that Trent has done is accepted some of the things that he didn't do well. He's allowed us to coach him. He's gotten better. There's no secret, he was a left-hand-dominant player last year. Now he's just as good going right.

We asked him to step up his leadership role. He has done that. He's a guy that is all about winning. I think you look at him, not just Trent, but Aaron Jordan, Kipper Nichols, Da'Monte Williams, those guys have all bought in. Both feet committed to winning.

Trent's got a big job. He's going to be at the top of everybody's scouting report. That will be a little different role for him. But he's up to the challenge. I'm excited for his sophomore year.

Q. Obviously Chicago is loaded with talent. A lot of guys have decided to go elsewhere. Ayo Dosunmu chose Illinois. What did you do to get him? What do you think clicked with him? How do you think he'll handle the pressure of expectations at Illinois?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, he's a different guy. I say that, and you talk about a committed, dedicated worker, a guy who loves basketball, he's a two-time state champion, and he's fearless. He's everything that I would have hoped him to be and more.

Great, great teammate. He's selfless. He knows he's a good basketball, but an elite passer, great teammate. He always has an encouraging word. He's developing slowly I think into what we'll see, by some point this year, an elite leader. He does that just by example and his ability.

I don't worry about where he's from. I think he's just got a great presence about him. He's great in the locker room. Nothing but a great teammate.

Q. Jim Delany said earlier this morning he doesn't think there's anything less interesting than bad basketball games in November and December. How does that fit in your view? How does college basketball continue to try to grab attention and viewers in the first couple months of season?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: I think the one thing that playing two conference games in early December, you've got kind of a lull there in between bowls and goings-on in the football world. Campus is still alive. What I mean by, that it's still in session. We're looking at playing two games that have student participation at both home and on the road.

I think our schedule this year, at least for our fans, is one they should be excited about with the ACC Challenge, the Gavitt Games, our trip to Maui, which is an elite field.

I think basketball is in a great place. I think we can continue to grow. Jim does an unbelievable job in terms of foresight, in terms of thinking ahead with media, some of these things. We're the first conference to go to 20 games.

The one thing we have in the Big Ten is 42 straight years in leading in attendance. We're above the curve, for sure.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for your time, coach.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297