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 until practice tips off.
Former Quincy and Illinois basketball great Bruce Douglas was back in Champaign last month for his son’s wedding. He also squeezed in a pre-wedding appearance on Saturday Sports Talk, and the all-time Illini career leader in steals and assists hit on several different topics in his time on air.
On visiting with coach Lou Henson:
It was a great visit. It’s one of the wonderful things about coming back to school is I get a chance to spend some time with coach, and he’s doing well. It’s always just a special time when you get an opportunity to reminisce about some of our memories together along with how resilient coach is. He’s a great man of character and integrity and I keep learning from him. It’s amazing.
On playing 60 minutes in a quadruple overtime win against Michigan in 1984 and how that team leaned on its starters:
The philosophy that we lived by was you had your best five players on the (court) as long as you could. Sure, you had to rest them on occasion, but that’s the way coach played us and that’s the way we practiced. It was based on foul trouble, tiredness, whether Scott (Meents) or (Tony Wysinger) would be the first one off the bench. Coach had a lot of trust in us, and he conditioned us. That’s how you won games. I think back in the day we felt like we were strong enough, we were conditioned enough, to stay out there. I can tell you when the game was over we didn’t have anything left, though.
On how he would have fared in the three-point era:
If I was in it, the one thing I surely would be is I would still be successful. Somebody asked me that question a while back. With all players — especially great players that love to win — you find ways to make yourself relevant. I had a couple good seasons where I shot the ball well and one season where I didn’t shoot it as well as I’d like. I see more people shooting from three-point range that need to gee shooting more layups. I think I would have been able to compete in this era. I surely would have worked more at the three-pointer. We probably see more bad shots being taken. Coach would have had a heart attack if we would have shot some of the three-pointers we see today.
On his defensive focus:
That was a part of Coach Henson’s philosophy. One of the things I appreciated most was just the way he helped me develop the way I thought about the game defensively and learning how to dominate and make a difference on the defensive end. In those days, we won games on the defensive end. One way you could be sure you were on the court was playing defense.