Skip to main content

New coach: "I can't promise we're going to win, but..."

Brad Underwood had said all the things you say in your first day on the job. This was a job he'd dreamed of since he was in diapers. Nowhere else in the nation is the high school ball better than it is right here.

He even worked in his own catchphrase. "We're going to work to be every day guys," he said. "That's not a basketball term; that's a real-life term. We all have to show up and work every day. We have to give our best every day.

Underwood even unveiled his culture, boiled down to two bullet points. "I'm a culture guy," he said. "Our culture is based on work. Our culture is based on family."

Then, at the moment most coaches would say all those factors, each ingredient in the personal coaching recipe that led him here, would lead to conference and national championships, the new Illinois head basketball coach promised the opposite.

"I can't tell you we're going to win games. That's so hard to control. Winning is hard. The one thing I can tell you is you will all be proud of what goes on out there. We're going to play hard, we're going to play the right way, we're going to play for each other. That takes, not just one, that takes everybody. And we're going to work to strive for that."

What Underwood leaves unsaid here is that doing all the things he preaches -- playing the right way, playing hard, playing for each other -- will create a team where winning takes care of itself. And considering the resume that got him to Illinois in the first place -- 89-14 in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin, taking a 12-win team to 20 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance in one season at Oklahoma State -- it's easy to see why he thinks that way.