Dee Brown on the Score

Dee Brown made an appearance on the Rick Telander Show on the Score in Chicago on Friday afternoon after the Illini Media Day festivites completed. Among the topics discussed were Dee's recovery from his stress fracture, and the <b>Number One</b> ranking from <i>Sports Illustrated</i> bestowed upon the Fighting Illini.

Rick Telander: Here's star point guard, Dee Brown. How are you doing, Dee?

Dee Brown: Great, how are you doing?

Telander: Ahh, we're doing great. You guys were ranked number one in the nation by Sports Illustrated, just came out. How do you feel about that?

Dee: Wonderful. I've put in a lot of hard work, and the players we've got coming back. We are actually excited about it. We were actually surprised to get that ranking. Whenever you get that ranking, I've never been ranked Number One, it's an exciting feeling just knowing that you are number one.

Doug Buffone: You know, you have been nicknamed the "One Man Fast Break", but you had that stress fracture last year on that left leg. How is that going?

Dee: It's going pretty good. It got healthy actually, it healed a little bit. I'm feeling good, I'm at top speed. I'm just blessed that the stress fracture healed.

Jay Hood: Dee, what do you see for the team in 2004-2005? Obviously you guys want to win, but what needs to step up for you guys on either side of the basketball, offense or defense? What do you want to see?

Dee: I think last year our defense actually was great. We were one of the best defensive teams out there. I think defense will improve a little more by doing the little things. I think every one on the team is shooting the ball real well right now. I just think we need to go out there and perform.

Telander: Hey Dee, last year if there was any concern about Illinois it was that you guys were up and down, and we were never quite sure which team was going to be on the floor. You know, of course things are going to happen over the course of the season. Sometimes you are going to shoot the ball well, sometimes things are going to go exactly your way. I know last year you just blew out Cincinnati, 92-68, in the tournament. Then you lost to Duke 72-62 in the Atlanta Regional in the semifinals. How do you feel being number one and knowing that teams like Duke are always out there? What will you have to do to be consistent and beat a team like Duke if it comes down to that again?

Dee: It's just a few plays. Actually that Duke game was determined by a couple of plays. You know we didn't defend well at some parts of the game. If you look at the game, we were right there with them. We had them really afraid, no not afraid, but like these guys really can play. I think a few plays came down where they executed and we didn't, and that basically determined the game.

Buffone: Now, Dee you went to Proviso East. There are some good ball players from there, Doc Rivers and Michael Finley. I was reading that you were saying something about your idol, a guys you really like, is Allen Iverson. Is that the guy, the little assassin?

Dee: Yeah. Especially Allen Iverson and Isaiah Thomas. I always looked up to them because they were little guys, about my height that went out there and gave it their all.

Hood: I want to ask you about the expectations. You talked about how you've never been number one, atleast as far as how a ranking is concerned, but talk about the expectations raised. It's a lot to bear when a publication looks at you guys and thinks that you are the cream of the crop. Is that a lot to live up to?

Dee: It is, but you know I just think that whenever you are ranked number one, you just have to work that much harder because every one is trying to beat you. We are coming into the season with this as a real humbling thing. We weren't expecting to be ranked number one, but everyone has elevated their game. As a team, I think we know what it takes to win. We have high expectations for ourselves, because this is our opportunity to make it to the Final Four with this group of guys we have.

Telander: We are speaking with Dee Brown, the Illinois point guard and Pre-Season All American, which we want to congratulate you on and Illinois ranked first in the pre-season poll by Sports Illustrated. Two questions here: were you seriously considering going to the NBA? Number Two: Have you ever run the 40-yard dash for time?

Dee: Umm, I never thought about going to the NBA because I never had a year like that. People probably looked at me and thought I was going to the NBA. I'm a strong believer, and my mom wants me to get my degree. I'm at a great University. I never thought about it. It would be great if I could go, but I never thought about it.

In the 40, I ran like a 4.4 in my junior year of high school.

Telander: Were you a football player?

Dee: Yeah.

Telander: A wide receiver?

Dee: Quarterback.

Telander: Did you ever think about playing it in college?

Dee: I did. It was too much. Once I saw how hard I needed to work at basketball, I knew I couldn't play football and basketball.

Buffone: You know Dee when Bruce Weber came in, and obviously a big change because Bill Self was gone. It might have been kind of tough at the beginning with the motion offense and the pressure defense, but it seemed like as the year progressed last year, you guys seemed to settle down a little bit. Right now, you are coming into the season knowing what to expect. I would imagine that would make it a lot easier.

Dee: Most definitely. Last year a lot was unexpected. Now, we know what to expect from coach. It should be smooth. Conditioning went so much better this year than last year. Everything just went smooth. I think when practice starts, its going to be so much easier.

Telander: Hey, Dee thanks a lot for taking time here to talk to us on Illinois Media Day. Have fun tomorrow, and be nice to Bruce Weber, he can still talk; he's still got his voice.

Dee: Oh yeah, he talks like he has a microphone on always. Thanks for having me again.

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