Illini still see room to grow on defense


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Defense has become one of the staples of Brad Underwood’s teams in the last few years, and it has been one of the reasons for the teams ascension to near the top of college basketball.

It has also been the buzzword around the team heading into the new season. The KenPom rankings put the Illini second in the nation in their defensive metrics, only behind Michigan. According to Underwood and the team, there is still a lot of room for growth.

“We’ve got to get tougher, we’ve just got to get tougher,” says Underwood. “Being assignment sound, we’ll grow into that. Will we make some mistakes early? Absolutely. But if we don’t develop some toughness, some grit, some fight, then we’re not going to reach that number.”

“We were top 10 in defense last year, our goal is top 2,” says senior guard Trent Frazier. “There’s where, me, I want to be the vet to get these guys on track with that and continue to get better at that every day.”

Illinois has two preseason games this year. The first one is Saturday against St. Francis.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.