The Big Ten pre-season player of the year is ready for what may lie ahead for him this season. So much was made of "whose team this is", that it made Brown laugh. When talking with the players and what needs to get done, it all goes back to Brown. Nick Smith, the tallest Illini player in school history (laugh) said, "When things break down, we look for Dee to get us back into the offense."
Speaking of which, it has been a tough engagement so far with first year coach Bruce Weber. Players often times look confused, but they're trusting their new coach and his approach. "This is new for all of us; it's going to take some time to get used to," said Brown. "We are used to the high-low game that we ran, now guys are having to set ball screens and learn to move without the ball," added junior guard Luther Head.
Often times people forget these kids are just like everyone else, but my first encounter with Brown will be one I will never forget. When I walked up to him and started to ask him questions, Brown immediately said, "Hold up partner." He stuck his hand out and said, "Hi, my name is Daniel Brown, nice to meet you. How can I help you today?" Lesson learned Kedric, when you talk to Dee. I thought to myself, man I would love to meet this kid's parents and whoa - that happened too. I've met most of the parents on the team and they are all great people, but if you are in need of a good laugh Mrs. Cathy Brown is just what the doctor ordered. Mrs. Brown is full of energy and tells it like it is. There's an old saying - kids are just like their parents. If that holds true in the Brown family, Dee will be extremely successful because the kid comes from a bright family. Sorry Illini fans, but I learned more from her that night than I did watching the game.
Dee dropped off Ricky Clemons
Illini-Nation had the chance to speak with Brown about this upcoming season and here is what he had to say:
Kedric: After all the conditioning you guys did, what are your thoughts on it now?
Dee: For me it wasn't that bad. I've been through some pretty tough programs before. Coach Weber is introducing his style here.
Kedric: Dee, the Illinois basketball program is now one of the tops in the country. How does it feel to be mentioned with the best?
Dee: That's one of the reasons I came to Illinois - because of the program and the players here.
Kedric: What about the pressure to stay at the top?
Dee: There's no pressure at all. We have a good team and we know what we can do. We just have to go out and prove it.
Dee: I'm not going to disrespect anyone, but we are the best team. I really like what we have right now. I would take our team and play anyone.
Kedric: How are the young guys adjusting?
Dee: They are doing fine; we are going to make sure of it. I know it's hard because I went through it last year, but they just have to trust in themselves and things will work out.
Kedric: What can the fans look forward to this year when they see you play?
Dee: Excitement and energy. Coach Weber said we are going to push the ball every chance we get, so that should be a lot of fun.
Dee Brown is a special player. A lot of basketball players will lead by their play and not be very vocal (see Brian Cook). Brown is a rare commodity because he does both. He will play with passion, get his team involved and communicate with them when things break down. That's what a leader does - and Brown knows it.
Dee takes the ball from UNC Jackie Manuel