Brad Underwood presser notes

Brad Underwood

• Excited to take on a very, very good Arkansas team. It’s a team that had a great year, has a great coach. They’re electric in terms of athleticism. We’re similar in the fact that we’ve had a lot of youth and some new guys. Eric has done a great job since his arrival there.

• I’m not going to speak for Muss, but I think we’ve proven we can beat anybody. We beat UCLA and Texas. We played some great basketball and the Big Ten preps you for that. Arkansas is a different-type team than what we usually see. They play a little faster. There’s going to be ups and downs in a season, and speed bumps. They have as good of a chance as anybody in this year’s tournament.

• Early in the year for us, turnovers were an issue. Recently it was free throws. It’s been a little bit of inconsistencies all year with young guys. We’ve played through that pretty well, and we’ve shown the ability to have spurts. Our struggles have been from us being hit and miss in some areas from game to game.

• I want our players to understand you have to enjoy this moment. I don’t take this for granted and I don’t want our players to do that. I’ve used the term “let your hair down and go play,” and we’re going to do that.

• The character on our team is high level. We have guys who care. It’s never very easy to come together in a quick amount of time. We didn’t have Matthew Mayer all summer when we’re working on team-building stuff. Let’s cut it loose now. It’s lose or go home. It’s easier to let your hair down now and maybe in January when you’re going through conference play.

They have blocked more shots any team we have played which could present big-time problems for us because as we know we’re not going to make our living on the perimeter.

They are a big strong physical team and it’s going to take our defense winning this game because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to get out and run and score efficiently it will be an ugly half court game for us for sure.

• Underwood said guard Jayden Epps will be good to go for tomorrow’s game. He missed a pair of games to end the regular season and played 3 minutes in the Big Ten Tournament.

• Nick Smith can score 20 on you in a variety of ways. Anthony Black can overpower you at the rim and he’s got uncanny quick hands. He’s a 6-7 point guard. They have great size on the perimeter with those two. Nick has given them an offensive punch since his return that has helped. Then you put him with Devo and the twins and you have great length and athleticism. NSJ and AB are deserving of all their prospects and accolades.

• Asked if Arkansas reminds him of any team he has faced this season, Underwood mentioned it is comparable to Texas. The pace is different.

Illinois is as long as we are, up and down the starting lineup. Thus coukd be a block party at both ends of the court,

I hope it isn’t a free throw contest!

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