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November 21, 2018

Brad Underwood

Trent Frazier

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Xavier - 83, Illinois - 74

MEGAN GODFREY: We'll take an opening statement from coach.

BRAD UNDERWOOD: Give Xavier a lot of credit. They did something that they had not been doing at a real high clip, and that was making threes. I felt like offensively we played well enough in the first half and we forced 11 turnovers, and yet they shoot close to 70 percent. And it then compounds. And we opened the second half in zone, and then we had three straight missed assignments. And then it mounts. And that's something that we have got to, I've got to do a better job of. This is on me. This is a young team. I knew we were going to get three unbelievable opponents in this. The thing that I'm striving for at Illinois. When you look at all of those banners, there's the Zona way, the Duke way, the Zag way, right on down the list. Xavier's 23 of 24 NCAA tournaments or whatever, some crazy number. They have their programs established. I don't want good teams, I want great programs. And we have got to find our way. We're still building that. The guy to my left's going to be at the forefront of that. But again give Xavier all the credit. They made shots and then literally Tyrique Jones was just a man amongst boys.

MEGAN GODFREY: Questions for Trent?

Q. Trent, after not getting a win here what's your biggest concern or what do you think you guys need to adjust to most?
TRENT FRAZIER: As a leader, like he said, I know what Coach Underwood wants out of this program. And I know what he wants out of this system and what the offense he runs. I think for me I got to do a better job as a leader. I'm not a veteran, but I'm a veteran. Down the stretch I was a little vocal but I got to be more vocal. I got to bring my teammates together. We kind of tend to just go our separate ways and get mad at each other and I think that's what caused us not to get a win tonight. But for me I just got to be more of a leader, be more vocal and we just got to stay together, man. I think that's the biggest thing. Coach -- I think coach is doing an unbelievable job with this program. He's trying to change it, he's working his ass off. I'm with him. I'm going to come out and play hard every night, whether the ball's going in or not and I'm just going to give it my all.

Q. Trent, coach said you guys learned a lot about your self on this trip, whether good or bad, how do you feel like or what do you feel like you guys learned after three games?
TRENT FRAZIER: I think what he means by that is three games in a row, against three great powerful teams, what it shows is if you can, if you come back the next day and play, come hard and play 40 minutes a game. I think we did that against Gonzaga. We played incredibly hard. But these last two nights we didn't play the Illini way. Like I said before, we tend to just go our separate ways. We didn't have enough fight tonight or yesterday. And I think that's the thing right there. We got to come out and play hard every night and play for 40 minutes. I'm not into the -- obviously, we got a lot of young guys and new players. I'm not into that. Coach Underwood recruited these guys for a reason and he's going to put them out there. So I think that's the biggest thing, we just got to stay together and just keep playing hard.

Q. You and Ayo both over 18 tonight, just how do you feel you guys playing together and what do you think of his performance so far?
TRENT FRAZIER: He can score the ball incredibly. I think the main thing for me is me just communicating and be more vocal to him as we got to sit down and guard more. Defensively I didn't think we were really good tonight. We got to rebound. Coach Underwood's going to put five guards out there under 6'-5" and that, he preaches to us me, Drey, Ayo we got to rebound, we got to rebound, we got to rebound, you know. Giorgi is working his ass out there, pardon my language, but he's working his behind off out there and I think the three of us we just got to focus in and be better defensively. Offense will come easily. I think we have the best three guards in The 10. So I'm not really worried about offense, just sitting down and guarding and just helping, helping our bigs out more, it's going to open up, give us some wins.

MEGAN GODFREY: We'll take questions for coach.

Q. Is there anything that you're not concerned about from a fundamentals point with this team?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: No. No, we got to get better in every facet of the game. It is my job to get them to do that, it is my job to get them to carry over what we do in practice to a game. That is really challenging. And yet I think it's very important to understand, we had the ball down two with 10 seconds to go by arguably the best team in the country -- or they at least tried to prove that today by beating Duke -- Gonzaga. And yet there's a lot of adversity that happens when you lose. We have to learn to handle that. Our guys have not. There's a lot of those guys in there we said we recruited winners, have never lost. But it's a completely different game at this level and you have to learn to do it every night, every possession and every second. And we're making too many mistakes. I mean we just are. In the first three possessions of the second half -- Alan is going to be a tremendous player, Al made three consecutive mistakes defensively. And that's my fault, I got to get him to understand how to do his job better.

Q. You said you recruited winners and obviously this program hasn't won in a while, how tough is that, what are the challenges of changing that, of even new players coming into a new program struggling to win?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Absolutely and that's what we are here trying to do. And understand, I keep saying it, you can have good teams, I could have gone out and got all grad transfers, okay? But this program has to stand for what is right and how they're going to be. And there's a certain way -- and we can talk about the two teams in the championship today, okay, there's a certain way they do things and there's a certain way they recruit and there's a certain energy and passion that those programs play for every single night. And I didn't see the Gonzaga players -- and I watched the game in its entirety -- I didn't see the Gonzaga players ever get frustrated, ever lose their mind when Duke made their run. We have to establish that. And it maybe takes that shot against Gonzaga to get you over the corner so you learn how to win once. But understanding how to handle losing is something that we have got to handle and we have got to grow from. And it's not having guys do one thing. Guys have to learn to do multiple things. Not just score, but rebound and sit down and guard. And when your job is to jump to the ball and get into a gap, you got to do that. When your job's to block out, you got to block out. Right now we're not consistently doing multiple things.

Q. You said you went zone a little bit in the second half, obviously here the points in the paint was a huge advantage to your opponents. Obviously you don't have as many posts as you want, but do you think you got to make a change defensively or what do you have to do to stop that?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, I mean we played pretty good against the best team in the country. And I think it's finding the consistency that young people need to have. I'm more concerned with our fouling and I thought we did a better job of that tonight than I am philosophically what we do. I mean you can say, well we'll play zone. We played zone tonight, same thing. And it's, again, it's about being assignment sound and being better. And that's my job, I got to do a better job with those guys getting them to do what we do.

Q. One of the follow-up a little bit in terms of controlling fouling. You see Giorgi, you're better when he's on the floor, he picks up some early fouls and he's going to the bench. How can you get them to think about being aggressive yet knowing that they're important to be on the floor rather than sitting next to you on the bench?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Yeah, there's a maturity that has to happen with that. You look at Giorgi's four fouls last night, they were all four fouls. And one is just a post up where he just wraps his arms around a guy, the second half one is a hook, then there's a shove. And he's got to understand that nobody's picking on him, it's not personal, but you got a value. He's a really, really good player and he established that probably against one of the best front court guys in Gonzaga's Clark kid. And, yeah, when we didn't have him last night against Iowa State he impacts our team dramatically. And it's constant talking. You saw me every timeout every time I took him out he and having a conversation. And those will continue. One of the tendencies of young guys is to foul, one of the tendencies of young guys is to become frustrated. He does both.

Q. To follow-up a little bit, I know in the pretournament conference we had a question with you about just the 30 year anniversary of the Fighting Illini making a run to the Final Four, having that culture. Illinois's had a culture, how much do these young men understand that culture of the program that they're standing on those shoulders?
BRAD UNDERWOOD: Well, they know the history. They have no idea about what that '89 team did or what that 2005 team did. That 2005 team, they were three, you know, and in diapers. So the difference is a lot of those have continued to stay successful, we haven't. So now we're fighting for that culture back. We bring guys in and talk to them all the time about the Illini Way. We have the best fans in the country, there's 15,000 every night, you saw how they traveled out here. And our fans have stuck with us through thick and thin. But I like the foundation that we're laying and continuing to build and we're going to fight for that every single day. And we have proven -- Ayo's a really good player, okay? Ayo as he continues to mature and develop, as Trent did last year, is going to develop into a heck of a college basketball player. Adonis De La Rosa is the first time of any real, real playing time, coming off an ACL. Giorgi. We're still finding our way. It's the first time we really played with AD. We're just finding our way. But the thing is -- and I'm going to say this -- we had a freshman leave his shooting shirt in the hotel room. Okay, good programs, you're mentally prepared for the game. You don't do that. Those things don't happen. And that's what we're trying to establish in being the Illini Way is that, man, it is all for one, one for all, and we're going to learn to win those games because we're that type. And we're that close. That's what '89 did, that's what 2005 did, that's what all those great teams do and by golly we're going to continue to fight for that.

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