Question and Answer with Bruce Weber

With a victory yesterday (61-42) over Coppin State, the 11-0 Illini will take all wins at this point because no one expected them to be perfect so far this season. Read here for a few answers from the 2005 National Coach of the Year - Bruce Weber.

Kedric: You have to be surprised just at the kind of season you're having so far, right?

Weber: Yes, we're surprised by it. Obviously the schedule has helped us a little bit; we scheduled down a little bit because we knew we were losing so many guys from last year's team. We have so many new faces. This group has accepted who they really are. We have a lot of size but we're a new team, so that means we have to have a new personality. We're defending and rebounding well right now. Also, now we're making some shots so the offense is coming around. Having Dee around with his leadership and winning attitude is a real plus for this team, too.

Kedric: Most media guys right now are talking a lot about Jamar Smith, but the guy that's kind of done the dirty work and is getting a lot of minutes right now is Marcus Arnold. Coach, can you talk about his growth to this point?

Weber: Well, Marcus started out slow. He wanted to do well too early; he worried about everything and now he's just starting to relax and starting to come into his own. Marcus has been a great player for us to come off the bench. When you get double-figure scoring coming off the bench with Marcus and Jamar, and maybe six or eight rebounds those are pretty good numbers. Also, by having Marcus we probably have better inside play than last year.

Kedric: Coach, I know you try to get out to a lot of high school games because that comes with recruiting, but after last year's success does it get stressful for you at times trying to watch games and at the same time sign everything that comes your way?

Weber: Well, I look at it as a positive thing because people care so much. We're in Indianapolis today and look at it in here - with all this orange. I don't know how many are here, but you can tell they are Illini fans. The other day I went to a small town to watch a game and eventually the police had to come so I could watch the game. It's fun. We love the fact that Illini fans will travel the country to support the Illini.


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