College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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Illinois men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood will now be in Champaign through the 2026-27 season after the 57-year-old Illini coach received a one-year contract extension.

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Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:

Episode 171: Full speed ahead to basketball season

Brad Underwood was one of three Big Ten coaches along with Nebraska's Fred Hoiberg and Indiana's Mike Woodson to talk "Hoops in the Heartland" with national basketball analyst Andy Katz recently. Here's some of what Underwood had to say (link to full video in tweet below):

On preparing for 2021-22 season

Refreshing, I think, is the word I use all the time. It's fun just to be back around people, seeing people with a smile on their face. I think there's a tremendous sense of appreciation for what we all went through last year. ... There's a different energy that we have in our gym because of that. 

On everything happening around college basketball

I think for the first time in my 35 years as a collegiate coach we're seeing multiple issues. A lot of times we just see one major change. Now we're seeing so many with the (transfer) portal, with NIL, potential restructuring of conferences, the Alston case and coming off COVID. There's so many different feelings right now going out — and unknowns. I think it's impacting our young guys.

On strength of Big Ten

One of the things that's so impressive is you have programs that have just unbelievable ... cultures and traditions. You can start at Michigan State or at Purdue with Gene Keady to Matt Painter and from Jud (Heathcote) to Tom (Izzo). Wisconsin is very much in that. You start looking and are like, 'How do we catch up to these guys?' Everybody's got great facilities, and I think we're at 44 years now with the top attendance (of any conference). ... Best coaching. Best players. Best venues. Best fan bases. It just makes it so difficult.  

Scott Richey covers college basketball for The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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