Tamas, Illini like how they're progressing

Tamas, Illini like how they're progressing

CHAMPAIGN — Amid all the volleyball and travel, Chris Tamas watched basketball on Sunday night.

The Illinois volleyball coach — who will guide the Illini in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament at 3 p.m. on Friday against Michigan State — liked what he saw, too, from Illinois men's basketball despite its 92-91 overtime loss to Maryland at State Farm Center.

So much so that when he and Illinois men's basketball coach Brad Underwood pulled up next to one another at a stoplight in Champaign on Monday, he let a fellow first-year Illini coach know.

"We rolled down the windows, and I told him, 'You guys are fine. You guys are competing. You just need to learn how to win in those moments,'" Tamas said. "We were in the same position early this year. We were toe-to-toe with some really good teams."

And still are. The Illini are hoping to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2011 after beating Hawaii and Washington this past weekend.

"The expectation for me with this team was to get better every day," Tamas said. "For us to come out with a couple quality wins (in Seattle) against a couple quality opponents was an indication of all the hard work."