"Illinois has played a very tough schedule, just as we have. They have been challenged by a lot of teams, and they have learned from the challenges. I am sure that Coach (Bill) Self knows a lot more about his team than he did before the season stated. Just by watching the second half of their game with Seton Hall, they played extremely well. They are a veteran club, and we expect them to be very good.
"I said at the beginning of the season that Illinois was going to be one oft he top teams in the country. They have the size and compete well. I know Bill Self's background, and there is no question that they can be really good.
On Illinois' Frank Williams:
"Frank Williams concerned me going into the game in Maui. I think that any coach who is not concerned with him needs to have his head examined. He can score from the outside or inside. The matchup will be the same for us as it was in Maui with Gilbert Arenas on him. (Cory) Bradford is basically a perimeter shooter, so we are going to have Jason Gardner on him.
On the UConn game:
"I thought that the staff did a great job of executing what we worked on in the game preparation back here (in Tucson). We know that when we go out there the day before a game like that, when it is on national television, we are going to have all of the television people around, so we had worked on what we wanted done before we left Tucson. I planned on going with the team until just a little while before the team left. The situation came up, and I had really no option but to stay. I will be with the team (in Chicago) barring any unexpected coming up.
"The call at the end is not what lost the game for us. If you are in the position where you are dealing with a call at the end of the game, you are going to win some, and you are going to lose some. I thought that we did a good job of taking care of things. The perimeter players did a much better job in the second half denying penetration. The staff made very good adjustments to that.
"The inside people have to be much more active defensively. Aside from Gene (Edgerson), the interior guys waited until their guys were into the paint before the made plays. If you wait for them to get into the paint, the only plays you are going to make is taking the ball out of the net after they make the basket.
On forward Michael Wright:
"I would like to have a team full of Michael Wrights. In 2- years of dealing with the young man, you see that he gives 100 percent of what he does whether it is in the weight room or in conditioning. He is a very focused young man. I just wish that he would talk a little bit more, provide some more vocal leadership on the court.
On the team's bench:
"Everyone has a role, and they need to play that role when they are in the game. Lamont Frazier needs to come in, get in people faces and stop the ball at halfcourt, making it to run the offense. Luke Walton, frankly, I think of him like I did Jason Terry a couple of years ago. He comes off the bench, and he is probably playing as many or more minutes as some of the starters. He competes hard in all phases, and he understands how to play the game.
"On the 15th of October, we planned on these guys being key guys, and that is how you make your plans. All of a sudden, adjustments have to be made. I think that it has some effect on the players, but that effect is short-lived. We know that when Michael Wright steps on the court, we are going to get a double-double from him, or close to it. We need to be able to say the same thing about Loren (Woods), only that he is going to have five blocks to go with it.
"If we don't see an improvement on the boards from our wings, I am going to be shocked and disappointed. The message that they need to do a better job there has been delivered to them loud and clear. They know that they need to get to the boards every time, or they are going to be sitting next to me, telling me why they couldn't."