Sometimes the coach doesn’t need an interpreter. Sometimes, like today, it’s good to stand back and just let John Groce write your column for you. And you know how hard it is for columnist Loren Tate to keep his mouth closed. Go, John:
“We weren’t very tough, and we didn’t execute well against Gardner-Webb (a 63-62 win). I felt like we escaped because our older guys made big plays late in the game.”
“These older guys have been through adversity and through successes. They’ve played in front of big crowds and on TV. They’ve played at different times in different time zones. There is a huge benefit to having this experience, and they’re beating the same drums as the coaches. Their buy-in factor is at a high level.”
Tonight’s ACC Challenge
“(Georgia Tech coach) Brian Gregory comes from the Tom Izzo coaching family. Coaches in that family do a great job blocking out and rebounding, that’s their niche. They beat a good St. Mary’s team in Anaheim. We need to be ready to fight on the backboards.”
Illinois is ranked No. 22
“It’s nothing but a number. It’s early. People have noticed we’ve played some good basketball in stretches during the seven games. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the recognition, but what does it mean in terms of the long-term mission we’re on? Not a whole lot. We talked about that.”
The crush of games
“Coaches love practice; players love games. Now we’re heading into our sixth game in 13 days. I have a list on a piece of paper that I’m dying to attack in practice, but it’s hard to have a full-contact, two-hour, gettin’-after-it practice because we need to keep players fresh. The benefit is how much we’ve learned about our team.”
ESPN’s Andy Katz named Brandon Paul the National Player of the Week
“It is well-deserved. He has allowed us to coach him at a high level. Now, I was on him in the film session Monday. I mean I was on him! That sends a message to the other guys, ‘Whoa, he’s going after him? Everybody is accountable around here.’ You can say, ‘That’s what the coach should do,’ and you’re right. But Paul handles coaching really well, and it has helped him improve. He can think the game. He has a high ceiling.”
UI guards lead team rebounding
“That can happen. I’ve been with teams where the guards lead because the bigs do such a good job blocking out. I’m not as concerned with who leads as I am in the overall rebounding percentage. That’s what we’re spotlighting.”
“Nnanna’s mobility at 6-11 gives us a chance to do some things defensively that a lot of teams can’t do. He moves so well.”
“Myke Henry did some good things Sunday, but I thought Tyler Griffey was playing so well that I didn’t want to take him out. I enjoy coaching Tyler. He is playing with a lot of confidence. Tyler was really good against the zone. But his dad keeps reminding me: ‘Tell him to get a rebound.’ We’ll continue to stay on him about the rebounding.”
Concern about Sunday
“I am always concerned when we don’t play well. We had no excuses. We didn’t come out ready so, of course, I’m concerned. Am I alarmed? No, I think we’ll come out strong Wednesday night.”
— The first of anticipated football staff moves came when head trainer Scott Brooks resigned. Brooks, who previously served at Miami (Florida), arrived here in May.
— After six seasons in the NBA, former Illini Luther Head is listed with the Austin Toros, the Development League quintet supported by the San Antonio Spurs. Mike Davis scored a basket in 19 minutes as his Sioux Falls team opened with a 107-98 win against Iowa.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com.