USA Today // Brian Spurlock's Robert Allen breaks down new Illini coach Brad Underwood

Robert Allen, senior editor of, breaks down new Illini coach Brad Underwood, his exit from Oklahoma State, his style of play and his recruiting

What is the reaction to Brad Underwood's defection in Stillwater?

Robert Allen, senior editor of Really surprised, I knew he had been negotiating a contract adjustment with athletic director Mike Holder. I know it didn't get done, but between Underwood's attitude about OSU basketball and the $3-million buyout I think there was a security blanket OSU and its fans thought was in play.

Underwood led a big turnaround not only from the 2015-16 season (12-20) to the 2016-17 season (20-12), but he also turned around this past season. The Cowboys started 10-8 but then won 10 of the next 11 to make the NCAA Tournament. What impact did Underwood do to lead the turnarounds?

Allen: He stayed positive with his players. He never threw them under the proverbial bus. He made an adjustment to his basic defensive philosophy that really helped, especially pressure on the post. He's a really good coach and motivator.

What style of play can Illini fans expect on offense and defense?

Allen: His offense is up tempo and adjustable to the talent on the team, but he likes to have players capable of driving to the basket mixed with shooters. He may be higher on the three-point shooters now than ever before based on his team and opponents.

Underwood was only in Stillwater for one yet, but did you get a read for him as a recruiter, and, if so, how do you think he'll do in the Big Ten?

Allen: Not as much, I'd say he is high energy. He got a few kids from Florida. Not necessarily fair, but lost the big recruit in-state vs. Oklahoma and Kansas. At a disadvantage with Trae Young. I would think he would do well, just no proof recruiting Power 5.

What is Underwood's personality like? How did it play with the university, fans and media?

Allen: He was great and got out in the community with his midwestern values and personality he was a great fit. He preached his love for OSU and its basketball tradition, but for fans and observers it is ringing pretty hollow right now. I think this may have been about money and relationship with athletic director.

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