Illinois men's basketball preview | Brad Underwood Q&A

Nov. 4—What changes will the new block/charge rule affect the game?

"It's huge. It's a big deal. It's a stylistic change. You have to change what you do in rotations. When that plant foot goes down (for offensive player), that secondary defender has to be set. Some guys can leave at the free throw line, and you can't slide. They're all going to blocks. They told us that 80-90 percent of the calls last year that were charges will be blocks now. They're trying to eliminate that play from basketball. They want scoring to go up. They're trying to prevent injuries.

"It will be drastic. You have to jump and go vertical. We work on a drill every day where, as a secondary defender, you can't be on the ground. You have to jump straight up and protect. I think it changes how you defend the front of rim with size. Guys that took a lot of charges were great, but now it's about going to the roof. You've got to jump."

How have your veterans helped the younger players?

"Leadership is really hard. Leadership is the biggest challenge we have as coaches today because there's so much turnover and there's so much, to be very honest, selfishness. Now you've put (name, image and likeness) and money in play. You look at Coleman (Hawkins). No one knows Coleman better than me. Coleman knows me as well, so he can talk about situations.

"Coleman has become a coach on the floor. He's cerebral. He's smart. (One day in practice) he pulled Amani Hansberry aside before I could even get to him and explained a situation that happened. That's leadership, and he did it in a way it wasn't demeaning. We talk about all the time it's how you talk to a teammate. Sometimes, if you start dog cussing somebody, they just shut you out. When you do it in a proper way, you build that respect."

What will roster building be like in the next couple years for your program?

"We've spent a lot of time this fall on '25s and '26s knowing you're losing 20 percent of the pool, basically, with the COVID year and all those athletes having an extra year (going away after next offseason). That will be great for the game just simply because it's going to lower the ages. Patrick Bittle is my video coordinator. His graduating class, there was a player at Ohio State who's now at Howard (Seth Towns) who has two years of eligibility left because of injuries and redshirting and he's got to be 26 years old.

"We'll go back to recruiting freshmen, but in the portal there will be less activity simply because kids won't graduate at the level they're graduating at and going on to become grads because of the extra year. They'll have to move on. It will be good for the game. We've got to refocus on the '25s, '26s and '27s."

Scott Richey