Underwood: "I like to play up-tempo"

New Illini men's basketball coach lays out his vision, playing style for team

CHAMPAIGN -- Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman pointed to Brad Underwood's style of play as one of the reasons he hired him.  It's an up-tempo and aggressive approach that's created the type of success Underwood hopes to bring the Illini.

"It's not that complicated," Underwood said Monday afternoon.  "Just get your guys to run really hard, and play hard."

Make no mistakes, Underwood knows what he wants on the basketball court.

"I like to play up-tempo," he said.  "I like to be in your face defensively.  I like to take advantage of, on the offensive end, every option that's available."

Scoring is what Underwood-coached teams do best.  A stark contrast from John Groce's defensive-minded approach.  In his one year at Oklahoma State, Underwood took a Cowboys team averaging 66 points per game to 85, fifth-best nationally.  Groce's Illini ranked 198th at 72 points per game this season. 

"We weren't the biggest team at Oklahoma State, yet we've always been one of the top rebounding teams," Underwood added.  "We were top ten in the country in offensive rebounding this year.  We were one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country. All ways to score other than just through offense."

His high powered offense has led him to plenty of success.  In four years at Stephen F. Austin and OSU, Underwood posted a 62-10 conference record.  In five years at Illinois, Groce was 37-53.

"We are very committed to a style of play," said Underwood.  "I like the thought of not allowing teams to do what they practice every single day.  " 

And in the meantime, Underwood says he wants a team Illini fans can root for.

"The one thing I can tell you, is you will all be proud of what goes on out there.  We're going to play hard.  We're going to play the right way.  We're going to play for each other."


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