"I just went out there and did the things Coach wanted me to do. I had a couple turnovers, but he wanted me to limit my turnovers, run the floor, rebound, hit the pullup jump shot and just play hard at all times.
"I'm just trying to be a leader. Shaun (Pruitt) and Brian Randle are gone, and Chris Hicks also. So me, Chester and Trent have to be vocal leaders on and off the court.
"We definitely have a lot of chemistry. The young guys went through rough times last year, so we're just trying to put everything together so we can have something real good this year.
"We're trying to bring Stan (Simpson) along. He's a young guy, and it's hard to be a freshman by yourself. It was hard when it was me and Shaun Pruitt. He's adjusted day by day, so hopefully he'll get better as time goes on."
Center Mike Tisdale discussed his role as a postman, his recovery from leg surgery, rebounding, his improving confidence, and his effort to fight off strong defenders in the low post.
"I think for any big man, the role should be to score. Loosen up the defense and hit a few jumpers.
"(Any effects of leg surgery?) Just getting up and down the court. Hopefully with a couple more practices, we'll be there.
"Rebounding is an important thing for this team. We lost our top rebounders from last year, and we've got to fill that spot.
"(confidence improved?) Yeah, a little bit. I got to get in there and play some after Shaun, so this year I know what I'm doing.
"C. J. (Jackson) is like hitting a brick wall in practice. He's a real good practice guy, and he really helps us out. It definitely works my lower body strength."
Power forward Mike Davis discussed his improved shooting and confidence, and his need to rebound better.
"I've been working on it (midrange jump shot). Coach says I can hit that shot all day, so that's what I was doing today.
"I'm a sophomore now. In practice when I made a couple mistakes, Coach said, 'You're a sophomore now, so act like it.' So I'm just trying to relax since I'm used to playing in front of a crowd now.
"Coach said he wanted me to rebound today, so I tried to come out here and get a couple rebounds for him."
Alex Legion had his first and only public exposure until late December. He discussed working on his weaknesses, relaxing in front of a crowd after a year layoff, how a layup gave him confidence to correct an 0-7 shooting start, and the Illini's improved chemistry.
"It's always good to work on your weaknesses. Shooting is one of my strengths, so I'm not really worried about that. The shot's gonna come.
"(8 weeks before first game) I'll just go back to work, work on my game. Hopefully, the harder I work the faster it goes.
"This was my first time playing since last year in Kentucky. Seeing a crowd, it's not your everyday practice where you just have your coaches and teammates. So I had to get out of my comfort zone in a big arena.
"You always need a little layup or one hustle play to get you going. Usually, shooters need to get into a rhythm and confidence. So that's pretty much what it was.
"(teamwork) That's one of the things Coach emphasized by taking the names off our jerseys. He wanted us to be more of a team and focus on things like helpside defense. That's one of the things he wanted me to work on today, so that's what I was happier about than making shots."