WMBD/WYZZ-TV - CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Last year the Illini players watched the NCAA Tournament without a coach.
And this season, Illini fans were unsure if this team had the horses to get to the NCAA's. But the players felt they were headed to the NCAA Tournament from the first practice of the offseason.
"I think everyone bought into what coach has to say the first day he got here," said senior guard DJ Richardson. "Part of our standards. We wanted to get here. To get a number-7 seed, I think we did a good job of doing that."
Illinois plays Colorado at 3:40 p.m. (CDT) in its tournament opener Friday in Austin, Texas.
"Overall we got better. Collectively and I got better individually," said senior guard brandon Paul. "With new coaching change, everyone was on the same plage from the beginning. It has helped us to build a trust with the coaching staff. I'm looking forward to Friday."