On starting the season highly ranked:
"I don't think that it has made that much of a difference. Last year, we were 13th in the preseason. This year we have moved up a little bit. The nice thing is that that you get on the cover of all the magazines. I would worry about it if we had a young team, but we have a veteran team. Last year we were mostly in the top 25, so they have been through it. I think what we did at the end of last season, making a run in the Big Ten Tournament and going to the Sweet Sixteen has helped prepare us. I am not sure we were ready for the Sweet Sixteen last year, hopefully we are ready this year."
On the talented upperclassmen around the Big Ten:
"We are picked because we have four seniors and three juniors coming back. We were pretty much a young league last year. The big thing is that the middle and bottom of the league is getting better. I think our whole league is going to be better. Veteran players getting older will help the league."
On Illinois starting the season with the target on its back:
"At first it was depressing, but after thinking about it for awhile, it is a good thing for a program. The kids like it, they dream about being on the cover of a magazine as the No. 1 team, but it does not mean anything until there is only one team standing at the end. It is a long journey and we have high goals and expectations. We know we are good; we do not have to have anyone tell us that. We have veteran guys and guys who have made progress. Hopefully it is a driving force, if anything."
On managing the high expectations:
"I think I can be more demanding of them, especially early because they know what is on the line. I keep reminding them where we are going and how hard it is to get there. I think last year reminds us on how vulnerable we are as a team and a program and how to stay humble. We try to do both things, be demanding and be humble."
Information provided by the Big Ten Office.
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