CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The last time we heard from Brad Underwood was right after his team lost close to Arizona on Saturday.
“Put it in all caps, SOFTNESS,” said Underwood at the time.
Underwood’s tone had softened by the time he met with media again Friday, but the emphasis was once again on getting tough and how the Illini used the week to instill that in the team.
Getting everyone on the practice court was a win itself this week, as Underwood has pointed out the Illini have dealt with injuries and illness this season. To get that desired level of toughness, practices at the State Farm Center had a certain Underwood quality to them.
“Been having our ‘Brad Underwood Practices’, getting us tough. Getting us ready,” says Jacob Grandison. “Lotta defense, toughness drills, physical, going all out, competing for a couple hours.”
“We tried to be sensitive to their time schedules, we tried to be sensitive to their academic load,” says Underwood. “And yet when we were on the court, it was very competitive, very intense. And accountability, we were on alert.”
One of the players who could benefit from the long reset is All-American Kofi Cockburn. The center is coming off one of his worst ever games shooting, going just 5-15 from the field against the Wildcats. The team around him getting healthier may help with that as well.
“We’ve been running a lot more sets to Kofi, we haven’t touched the paint maybe as much as because of Trent’s injuries, obviously Belo being out, as we did a year ago when he got the little gifts,” says Underwood. “He’s got to have some support from the guards, some support from others. We’ve tried really hard this week to clean some of that up.”
Illinois plays St. Francis (PA) Saturday at noon on Big Ten Network.