MAUI, Hi. (WCIA) — From the moment they stepped off the bus, the Illini were all business on Saturday. The team got its first chance to work out at the Lahaina Civic Center and took full advantage of its two hours on the court.
The fun and games are essentially over for Illinois. They’ll have some downtime at the Hyatt Regency, and no one will blame them for sneaking out to the beach here at the team hotel. But the countdown to tip-off is on, with less than 48 hours away from the first game.
“I mean in the morning from the breakfast, I kind of felt like everybody was more focused in,” says Girogi Bezhanishvili. “We watched the film after breakfast, everybody was focused on basketball. Hawaii is great and everything, the cruise was great but everyone is focused on the business.”
“It’s getting closer to game time, guys are getting hungry,” says Aaron Jordan. “We’ve got a good opponent coming up next, just focusing on ourselves, what we’ve got to do to get better but I know guys can’t wait to get back out there.”
So far a lot of the activities have been team based but the tournament itinerary kicks into full gear tomorrow. There’s an entire day of plans starting with an early morning press conference with all eight head coaches, then at night the teams will be formally introduced to fans at a luau with traditional hula dancers and fire knife performers. It’s all to get everyone ready and excited for the three days of basketball ahead.
The Illini will play the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs at 10:30pm on Monday.