WCIA — As the calendar turns to October, it officially means Illinois basketball is returning to the court this month. Brad Underwood’s squad begins their preseason hosting Ottawa on Oct. 20.

Practice is now officially allowed to get going for college basketball teams, and the Illini have a lot of new faces. A new group means a new opportunity to define the identity of the team. Underwood and company are hitting the reset button.

“The freedom and the randomness with which we played with last year hurt us,” Underwood said. “And we didn’t take care of the ball, and we had too many unforced turnovers.”

“Nobody was talking about Florida Atlantic, nobody was talking about San Diego State. But they have veteran teams, leaders, they played well together,” senior Coleman Hawkins said. “So it’s not even about the skill that you have, it’s what kind of team you have.”

Exhibitions may start in October, but the regular season does not start for the Illini until Nov. 6 when they host Eastern Illinois.