Bruce Weber took time to answer a few questions

Could this happen, Illinois vs. Kansas? Read here to find out what Bruce Weber talked about today at his press conference.

Q. Coach Weber, can you talk about your defense Saturday against Western Illinois and what are you doing different than last year?

A. Pressure the entire court. We want to wear people down with our depth. With our guard depth we should be able to do that. Obviously, right now we are a little thin there, but that's the goal. Basketball games have breaking points and sometimes teams get tired. When they do we would like to take advantage of that. On Saturday we played pretty good help-side defense. I am a little worried about our transition defense. When Dee or Deron misses a shot or makes a mistake they need to make sure they don't give up lay-ups at the other end. Another concern for me is our "bigs" being able to stop people. Last year because they were freshman sometimes Bill would play some zone or box-n-2 defense to help with some of their youth. But then some games they got after people. The games that come to my mind are the Missouri games and the Michigan State game here.

Dee in the NCAA Tournament last year

Q. Will your defense help your offense flow?

A. I hope so. In some of these tough games coming up we will see. We were just starting to make some progress on offense "motion", but then Saturday we saw a lot of zone defenses. Mercer will play some zone and man both.

Q. Who are you looking to start tomorrow?

A. Right now we only have three guys that are mainstay and they're Dee, Deron and James. Brian Randle played a lot more relaxed in the second half on Saturday and so did Warren Carter. What we are going to do is look at match-ups before we decide on a starting five right now.

Q. It was stated that today the State's Attorney would have a press conference today regarding the discipline issues.

A. I just heard about it this morning and that's all I can say at this point.

Q. I know a little about the situation. He said he is not filing charges against those involved, however there were some U of I athletes involved with this issue.

Q. Any additional facts since Friday?

A. No, the players will still serve their suspensions and then it will be time to move on. Right now it's been a long 10 days.

Q. Coach, what do you expect to see from Mercer?

A. They have good, skilled "big" men, and big men that can score. This will be a good test for our "bigs" defensively.

Q. Coach, at times Nick Smith appears to be frustrated. How is he doing?

A. I can understand that from Brian Randle and Warren Carter, but coming from Nick it surprises me. He's a four-year player for us. Nick is very intelligent and does understand what we are trying to do here. Saturday he became frustrated because he was playing a guy that was 6-5 and quicker than he is. Nick played behind him which made it tougher for him to guard the guy.

Q. Coach, how is Richard's foot?

A. He was fine yesterday. We shot around for 40 minutes and lifted weights just to give the guys something structured to do. During break you don't have to give them a day off so we did that, and we ate together as a team.

Q. Will the school, not the Athletic Department, take further action against the players?

A. We will have to wait and see; I don't know. If there is a meeting I don't know whom it would be with.

Q. Coach, talk about how tough your schedule is. A. The players make fun of me all the time, because they've heard or read what I've said about how tough it is. Having such a young team this is a tough schedule. We need a schedule where we can have some flow to it. Having to go on the road against two of the best coaches in the game back-to-back is not ideal for me. I feel we need a home game in there. I really didn't want to go to New York, but for TV and other reasons we had to.

Q. Next year will your schedule be similar?

A. It will be good. I know we are in the Wooden Classic and our opponent maybe be Cincinnati or Kansas. You need to keep the kids' confidence; if you lose early some teams don't bounce back from that. Thank you, Coach.

Shaun Pruitt and Deron Williams


Illini Inquirer Top Stories