Brad Underwood is in IL and OSU fans are in despair, wondering how they can ever replace Underwood and why they lost him. IL is on the opposite end of that at the moment, having missed the NCAA Tournament the past four seasons. IL hasn't gone that long without a Big Dance appearance since missing the event from 1964-1980. Use that $3-million check from IL for another good mercenary that fits and can coach man-to-man defense and exciting offensive basketball or look for an alumni that will trade being in Stillwater for some of that business of coaching. Underwood's Lumberjack teams went 53-1 in Southland Conference play, winning the regular season and conference tournament each of his three years. Underwood will just be a fan for that one and doesn't plan to be back in the same spot once he roams the sidelines at the State Farm Center. "His winning combination of strong Midwest values and tenacious work ethic are a ideal fit for our community and the Illini Nation".
After one season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, head coach Brad Underwood is headed to IL. The Cowboys were fifth nationally in scoring with 85.7 points per game and ranked first in KenPom.com's offensive efficiency ratings. He pointed to his relationships with two coaches who have had more success in tougher situations than IL has had in years: Bob Huggins and "Press Virginia" style with West Virginia, and Frank Martin with his SC team's relentless aggressiveness, which has helped the Gamecocks advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Cowboys hired Underwood a year ago, and he took the program to the NCAA tournament this season.
"For me it was no decision", Underwood said. Groce probably needed to earn an NCAA bid in his fifth season to keep his job. There are still questions about whether Underwood can recruit Chicago, and whether the IL job is even tougher than anyone thinks. The Fighting Illini are 19-14, still competing in the NIT under interim coach Jamall Walker.
Bench: Boise State B, IL C+.
"Brad is a tremendously hard worker, " said Jones, who both played for and coached with Underwood at Western Illinois. I don't mean that so harsh, I believe coaches love their players, but they are capable of quickly loving players at another school that writes a bigger check. "I felt this was an elite program". We got to start acting like that, we have to start thinking like that. "Next season can't get here fast enough for me!"
"We're one of the best programs in the country". The basketball venue has undergone a recent renovation. Whitman lured in a coach that views Illinois' basketball potential as he does. Plus, the recruiting base is solid, too. The biggest mistake of Holder's administration was the 10-year, $2.4 million-per-season extension he gave Travis Ford after a breakout 2008-09 season, Ford's first year at OSU. The best player, Malcolm Hill, is gone along with guard Tracy Abrams and big man Maverick Morgan.