As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Brad Underwood will be the newest Illini Men’s Basketball Coach.
Josh Whitman made it official by tweeting his now signature move of an orange sweater and #WeWillWin sign to all of his followers.
Whitman is a stud. Whitman brought in the donors and easily maneuvered his way to steal the uptempo coach from Oklahoma State. A move that every Illini fan should be ecstatic about. This is equal to the Lovie Smith signing without a Lovie Smith name.
Underwood has a basketball IQ that is second to none. He has that trait over Groce who was a recruiter. We learned we needed more than a recruiter. There needs to be a man who can attack any defensive scheme and make other teams play to their rhythm. Consistently the Illini fall behind because they had to adjust to another opponent’s style of play. What is amazing about the hire is that the Illini team fits into the way Underwood coaches. Tejon, Jalen, and Kipper are all raw who like to push the ball and will be open for shots as Underwood will space the floor with Finke and Black. This new style of play will be different but effective for all of these players. Also with an up-tempo style of play, having a top recruiting class that has already three bonafide high school scorers at the guard position, Frazier, Williams, and Pickett and a massive presence inside with Tilmon coming in, you will see this team run a fast paced all game as the Illini will utilize their bench next year.
We will see how his schemes work starting potentially in the NIT but when he has a full offseason of practice coming this fall. The thing that can keep everyone excited about him, for now, is how greatly the national, non-Chicago media, is loving this hire. From Scott Van Pelt to all the Big Ten bloggers, people feel like this was the right move for the Illini. Journalists have put the blame on Oklahoma State for trashing their initial contract for this basketball genius and allowing us to spend money that he deserved.
Another big tweet I saw was coming from Chicago AAU team Mac Irvin Fire. They tweeted that it was a great hire. This means something as the most common question mark for Underwood, will be his ability to recruit and connect with in-state prospects and Chicago prospects. The ability to recruit in-state will be crucial for the long-term success of this team. He has his first shot to prove what he can do with Mark Smith from Edwardsville. Mark Smith will deservingly win Mr. Basketball for the State this year. The last time the Illini got Mr. Basketball was in 2010 with Jerome Richmond. (For those that are going to google where is Jerome Richmond now, he currently plays in the Dominican Republic). Mark will fit in his up-tempo guard-heavy lineup just as everyone else where. Underwood needs to sure up this recruit that wanted to play for Groce at Illinois and let everyone know that he has what it takes.
BE HAPPY ILLINI FANS. We have a stud athletic director. We have two stud coaches.
I am sort of excited to see what Whitman does to replace Bollant on the woman’s side.