Illinois' Brad Underwood Banking On Offense To Offset Defensive Learning Curve

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Illinois coach Brad Underwood expects defensive struggles each season but a collection of strong offensive players should ease the transition

Illinois Fighting Illini coach Brad Underwood understands defense is the most difficult adjustment entering a season with so many new players.

The Illini have two starting lineups full of newcomers for next season but Underwood feels he has an edge in the preparation process."It's all going to fit together," Underwood. "There will be some growing pains. As I always say, the defensive side is the hardest side to learn but we feel like we've got a group that fits and that we're not going to have to search as much on the offensive side to those fits.

Incoming freshman Will Riley and transfers Ben Humrichous and Tre White should have no problem producing points. Another advantage for Underwood is fielding a group with so many experienced players. Five have already produced at the Division I level. Riley, Morez Johnson and Jason Jakstys, who are all coming from high school, are capable of stepping in. The other two newcomers, Kasparas Jakucionis and Tomislav Ivisic, are international players with NBA talent

"That's the fun part," Underwood said. "I'd much rather have guys that have the talent to go do some things. We've got some European guys that have played at a very, very high level. That is a wealth of knowledge. The competition makes their transition a little bit easier."


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