Illinois State men's basketball coach Dan Muller makes his debut tonight as the Redbirds play Quincy in an exhibition basketball game. (Photo courtesy GoRedbirds.com)
By Bryan Bloodworth
NORMAL - What kind of team can Illinois State basketball fans expect to see when the Redbirds take the court tonight at 7 o'clock in their exhibition game against Quincy University at Redbird Arena.
"Hopefully they'll see a tough, competitive, gritty team that does all the little things it takes to win games on a consistent level," said Dan Muller, who is making his hed coaching debut at ISU. "We'll play fast and at a high level of intensity.
"We are going to be a good defensive team. We have absolutely been emphasizing the defensive end of the court. Playing fast should be a strength of ours because it fits our personnel. It's the best way for us to win and the best thing for our fans.
"I like the progression we're making in practice and I like our intensity. We are getting better, but we do have to clear up some ballhandling and rebounding issues. The guys have great attitudes and are trying to do what we are asking them to do."
Tonight's game marks the fifth time in six years the Redbirds have met Quincy, a Division II school from the Great Lakes Valley Conference, in an exhibition game. ISU has won the previous five, including an 80-70 triumph a year ago.
Quincy, which returns four starters from last year's 18-9 team, was picked to finish third in its conference's West Division this season. The Hawks are playing their final exhibition game of the year against ISU after suffering losses to Notre Dame and the University of Iowa.
Muller said he will be looking for a number of things out of his veteran squad tonight.
"I want to see execution and a level of competitiveness and physicality that we've grown to expect in practice," he added. "We're starting to get into roles and get a feel for the offense. Defensively, we should know what we are doing."
Muller likes the chemistry he is seeing develop among the players.
"Our team chemistry is very high and I think it will be a strength of ours," Muller continued. "Guys really like each other. Chemistry is something you can't take for granted. You have to keep a constant awareness of it because it can be great one week and two or three weeks later it can slip depending how much a guy is playing or the adversity that comes with losing and playing on the road."
Like most exhibition games, Muller said he'll use a number of player combinations in the game as the Redbirds prepare for their regular-season opener Nov. 12 at home against California-Santa Barbara.
The game can be heard on WJBC 1230 AM, 93.7 FM and the Country Financial Illinois State radio network
Listen to the podcast with Coach Muller previewing tonight's game here.
Bryan Bloodworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org