Brad Underwood isn’t trying to sugarcoat it.
The Illinois Fighting Illini men’s basketball coach knows what makes his system tick and it’s guards. Not bigs.
On Friday, Underwood was on ESPN 93.5 FM with “Tay and Carp,” and was talking about a lot of different things, including roster change, recruiting and more. One topic he brought up was his system and what works best in his system.
“I think everybody gets excited about bigs,” Underwood said. “Draymond Green is Golden State’s center. Draymond is 6-foot-6, maybe 6-foot-7. The most important thing to us in our system is guard play. Because it’s about breaking the defense down, it’s about playing with some tempo and pace. All of [our] perimeter players are different. Villanova played a lot of the time in the Final Four with three point guards on the court. So you could see Trent [Frazier], Ayo [Dosunmu] and Andres Feliz on the court together [at Illinois]. And I love the versatility because it’s creativity, it’s good basketball players and they can all do things that enable you to win. Pass, guard, shoot it, get it into the paint.”
Well, if you’re a guard and a part of the Fighting Illini team heading into 2018-19, you have to feel pretty good about what the coach said there. Basically, the system is built for guards. Not big men.
If you’re a traditional big who wants to play with your back to the basket, maybe Illinois isn’t the place for you. Underwood mentioned Golden State in the NBA and Villanova in college basketball — teams that have had immense recent success. Having versatile guards is what the Warriors and Wildcats have had.
And, that’s exactly what Underwood wants. Illinois lost its sixth player from last season’s team on Thursday and so a lot of new faces will be making up the roster. If those guys fit Underwood’s system, we’ll be able to see more of what he wants Illinois to look like in 2018-19 — his second season as the man in charge.
The Fighting Illini finished the 2017-18 season with a 14-18 overall record. According to 247Sports, Illinois has two 4-star incoming freshmen for this season in Ayo Dosunmu and Tevian Jones.
Dosunmu is listed as a 6-4 combo guard and Jones is a 6-6 wing. The team’s 2018 class includes six members, with the other four ranked as 3-star prospects.